Mayor Ignacio Velazquez said his idea for a print newsletter is a means to improve Hollister’s communication with the public and prevent the spread of misinformation. He also suggested that staff officials will have to solicit multiple bids before moving forward.
Hollister council members last week unanimously approved spending the first installment of a newsletter – 15,000 copies of which will be delivered to city households four times per year.
Council members approved a $5,000 supplemental appropriation toward the estimated $4,600 quarterly cost for the design, printing and delivery. As noted by head planning official Bill Avera last week, the thought is to have planning staff members handle the coordination of content, with a consultant then taking on design and distribution.
Before that first edition goes to the press, though, the planning department may have to shore up the consultant side of things. Velazquez in an interview with the Free Lance after last week’s approval said he expects the city to request multiple bids for the newsletter job. Avera when he presented the proposal last week said he received one estimate, for the $4,600 quarterly from Design Line & Granger Printing.
“I asked them to talk to anybody who can do it in the area,” Velazquez said. “My goal, actually, was to share that amongst printers. They’re going to have to get other prices.”
Avera, meanwhile, could not be reached this week before publication.
As for the additional city staffing costs to coordinate the newsletter, Velazquez said the goal is to have the consultant do most of the work.
“The goal here is not to have the staff do it, but to have different private individuals, contractors, do it locally,” he said. “I don’t want staff doing something they’re not experts in.”
He said he wants the staff to work with the consultant in devising a template, which can be readily filled.
The mayor believes the newsletter is important because citizens have complained about lacking information.
“One thing I heard over and over – there’s nothing for our kids to do,” he said of his 2012 campaign. “What I want to do is make sure people know there’s plenty of things for the kids to do.”
Velazquez added that the newsletter would provide details on other basic matters such as contact information for sidewalk issues, or how to best get around town during the motorcycle rally.
He said other alternatives have been considered as well such as inserting information into the water bills, inserting a newsletter in the newspaper, or strictly doing it online. He said part of the effort will involve pushing people toward electronic outlets for information.
“The reality is, there’s a lot of people that aren’t connected and will make excuses on how nobody gave them the information,” the mayor said. “I’m trying to stop people from saying nobody ever told us.”
He went on: “If I could do it strictly through email or other programs out there, I’d do that in an instant.”
He said he hopes the cost will be worth it with citizens being more informed. One example of misinformation lately, he said, is that some people believe the fire department – which may be partnering with the county on a contract agreement – is being eliminated.
“It’s making sure that misinformation doesn’t get spread around the community,” he said.