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Councilman Chastised for Action News Interview

Lansdale Councilman Rich DiGregorio talked to Action News 6abc about the potential smoking ban in the borough. Councilman Dan Dunigan and council President Matt West said DiGregorio did not follow protocol on media interviews

Council President Matt West said he was shocked to turn on the TV to Channel 6 Wednesday evening and see a familiar face — that of Councilman Rich DiGregorio.

DiGregorio was interviewed by Action News about the potential smoking ban in Lansdale's parks, public property and pools.

However, Councilman Dan Dunigan said at the end of Wednesday's public council meeting that DiGregorio did not follow protocol per borough orientation for incoming council members on media interviews.

"While I'm sure Councilman DiGregorio did represent the borough well, I'd appreciate if he would remember next time the orientation process we all went through about interactions with the media, at least advising the borough manager and the president," Dunigan said. 

"An administrative function presenting the best face would be helpful, if that would have been at least tipped off," he said.

Dunigan told the public and DiGregorio that council members are a power of nine and have no power individually. He said those situations are "critical from a PR standpoint."

He said it is a different situation if DiGregorio were, for example, sidetracked at a borough event and a question was posed to him.

"To drive over to and talk to a news crew, I don't think is in keeping with the spirit and discussion that we had relative to what we agreed to through our orientation process," he said.

Dunigan compared the borough and its council members to a business and managers. If he were a business owner, Dunigan would be very concerned if one of his regional managers decided to speak for the company.

"He may have said nothing. I haven’t seen it. I presume he said nothing. I didn’t hear anything other than tonight," Dunigan said. "However, let's think a little bit more through the entire process just in the off chance we mistakenly shoot ourselves in the foot."

West said he wasn't informed at all about DiGregorio's interview.

"I would appreciate that," West said.

Recently, Councilman Jack Hansen — DiGregorio's neighbor — was interviewed about

"Jack," West said, "you were there and involved in the last TV interview. You let us know and it worked well."

Hansen said he was present during DiGregorio's interview with Action News.

Hansen lauded DiGregorio's interview, which had occurred prior to Wednesday.

"I happened to be standing there watching. I want to say, you did a wonderful job representing the borough," Hansen said.

Hansen also praised the borough's work on the possible smoking ban.

"This possible smoking ban we’re talking about here in the borough has gotten a lot of interest. I want to say that I'm very proud of everyone in the borough who is working through this and putting out good information to the public," Hansen said.

On Wednesday night, news crews from Action News and WMFZ in Lehigh Valley were present at borough hall

"What I've heard from other communities, others have done this — maybe not to a huge extent, maybe in small areas — but it's a good step we're taking and follow through with it," Hansen said.

Steven Long September 07, 2012 at 10:33 PM
No surprise ... the INTEREST in the story is about Lansdale Council beating up each other. Way to go guys ... how embarrassing to live in Lansdale.
C. Smith September 08, 2012 at 12:57 AM
@Steve -- you know what? If Council hadn't done so much in the last 3 years to move this Borough forward, I might agree with you. But the truth is, they have put Lansdale on a path toward real revitalization. This exchange between Councilmen seems "controversial", so of course, it makes the Patch, but this is really a non-issue as far as I'm concerned. And Mr. DiGregorio's letter (or whoever wrote it) is an even bigger piece of useless bits and bytes. He knows what Mr. Dunigan actually said, and he's trying to make something out of nothing.
Tony Di Domizio (Editor) September 08, 2012 at 05:46 AM
The story appeared on Patch because it occurred at a public meeting, on public record. Thank you.
Garage Band September 08, 2012 at 10:50 AM
Dear C. Smith, Non-issue? Perhaps you should study Politics 101. Suppressing Freedom of Speech is the first step of any autocratic regime and to insist on one message coming from central command sounds reminiscent of Venezuela or Russia.
C. Smith September 08, 2012 at 02:26 PM
@GarageBand: Like Mr. DiGregorio, you weren't paying attention in class. Though you'd like to turn this into some free speech issue, it simply IS NOT. From what I have seen and read, Mr. DiGregorio, or any other Council Member is free to talk to the press whenever they like. What was encouraged was that when those interactions are known in advance (and planned), as this clearly was, that said Council member simply give the appropriate people a "heads up." This is not asking permission, or for a script of what to say. It's just good policy and practice. Were Mr. DiGregorio sitting in the big chair, I know he would want the same courtesy. So feel free to continue blowing this out of proportion, but it is, at it's core, a NON ISSUE.

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