PORTAGE | A 16-page city newsletter, which hit residential mailboxes this week, is coming under fire by at least one Portage city councilman.
Councilman Mark Oprisko said the high-gloss magazine-style publication is a political piece promoting Mayor James Snyder and paid for by taxpayers.
"He's doing this for politics," said Oprisko, objecting specifically to Snyder's use of his personal Facebook address and the use of two photographs featuring Snyder's children.
The newsletter, which had prior approval by the city's Redevelopment Commission, cost some $11,500 to design, print and mail. Invoices indicate the city was billed $3,300 by Griffin Marketing Services of Bradenton, Fla. for the design, editing, copy writing, use of stock photos and imagery and production of the newsletter. An invoice was also received from Minuteman Press of Portage for $8,251 for the printing of 16,500 newsletters and postage for 16,358.
The newsletter features articles written by Snyder and several of his department superintendents and includes additional information about the city's upcoming switch in trash/recycling pick-up.
"Since being mayor, residents have asked to be informed on what is happening in Portage," Snyder, who was in Indianapolis Friday on city business, wrote in an email in response to questions about the newsletter.
"I began using my personal Facebook as many never transferred to my political page or my official mayor page. The Portage PD has used this page to help keep residents safe; the street department has used it to find a road it missed plowing. Of course we want to direct people to the Facebook page."
Oprisko said this isn't the first time a city-sponsored newsletter was an issue. Former Mayor Olga Velazquez was criticized by Snyder and others in the 2011 election for sending out a city-sponsored newsletter regarding the University Center with her photo.
Oprisko said the issue was then brought up last February and the council and mayor agreed then it was wrong.
"The consensus was our morals and ethics would not allow us to use public dollars for political purposes," said Oprisko.
Sue Lynch, city council president and the council's representative on the Redevelopment Commission, said she feels the newsletter is a good thing.
"I think it is a great newsletter and a great way to inform the city, but it should not be used in a political way," said Lynch, adding the photos of Snyder and his children are not appropriate. "They should show case the citizens of Portage."
Lynch added that while the Redevelopment Commission approved the newsletter, they did not review the content prior to it being published.
Snyder said he believes newsletters are a good way to inform and communicate with residents. He added they are looking at funding the quarterly publications with "many creative resources outside the city's general budget" including sending one through the park department.
"If the new Portage newsletter helps us achieve 40 percent recycling, it will have paid for itself in less than two weeks," said Snyder.