CERRITOS — Holes have been drilled in the fortifications separating the press from City Hall staff.
After much talk about the need for public access and openness, the City Council last week voted to relax a longstanding policy prohibiting city staff members from dealing directly with reporters. Department heads, the city manager and the assistant manager are now allowed to speak to the press, although other staff workers will remain off limits to reporters.
For 15 years Cerritos has channeled all press inquiries through its public information office. Only after obtaining permission from the press officer could a reporter talk to a city worker about a story. Most often, the information officer obtained answers to press questions from the staff and then relayed them to reporters.
Policy Called Inefficient
In raising the issue, Councilwoman Diana Needham complained that the policy created problems for the press, was inefficient and ultimately limited the public's ability to find out what was going on in the city.