What would happen if a city created a department to twist and spin the truth in order to promote crazy projects and unpalatable ideas?
A successful misinformation department will grow and its proponents may even start to believe its messages. Hubris will also grow as each approach to a lie is accepted or tolerated. Outsiders such as the press and public will see the folly of this situation and start demanding the truth through our Freedom of Information (FOI) Act.
The city would hire more staff to deal with the many FOI requests that would otherwise be unnecessary if the misinformation department didn’t exist. This is a perfect way to grow bureaucracies at the taxpayer’s expense and it is happening in Victoria.
Recently, Focus magazine made an FOI request that, if granted, might get uncomfortably close to the truth. City staff took it upon themselves to block Focus’ requests with a section of the Act meant to prevent abuse by limiting FOI requests.
This action is outrageous and abhorrent. Legitimate journalistic requests such as this are not the least bit abusive and often result in contributing to the public good. As it is generally felt that the limiting will be denied, this is seen as a delaying tactic.
Council should take a strong stand on this most basic democratic process by unblocking the FOI request and withdrawing the application to limit Focus magazine journalists. The city’s communications department should be eliminated so that the truth can flow more freely.