Oak Harbor mayor launching his own TV interview show

Mayor Scott Dudley speaks with Jim Riney of Riney Production Services. Riney produces the audio and video for the City Council meeting and will produce Dudley’s new show.  - Jessie Stensland / Whidbey News-Times
Mayor Scott Dudley speaks with Jim Riney of Riney Production Services. Riney produces the audio and video for the City Council meeting and will produce Dudley’s new show.
— image credit: Jessie Stensland / Whidbey News-Times

Oak Harbor Mayor Scott Dudley plans to direct and star in his own TV show.

Skeptical council members, however, say they would consider the production a comedy if it wasn’t for the dramatic waste of staff time.

During a recent meeting, Dudley urged the members of the City Council to bring back the standing committee meetings, which were replaced with one large workshop each month.

Dudley emphasized that the four monthly standing committee meetings were videotaped and televised on Channel 10 and available for viewing on the city’s website so that citizens can also keep track of what’s happening.

But the council decided to continue with a once-monthly workshop and forego the standing committee meetings. Council members said that makes best use of everyone’s time.

Dudley wasn’t pleased, so he’s decided to interview department heads in front of cameras in an effort to make up for the loss of meetings.

“We’re trying to see what we can do to improve communication,” he said, “and eliminating four standing committee meetings doesn’t help.”

Dudley said that there’s just not enough time during the once-a-month workshops to cover everything that’s going on, particularly financial information.

The last workshop, he said, was “hijacked” for a forum on Councilman Rick Almberg’s idea for luring more Navy personnel to the city.

Yet council members said they are willing to extend the workshop as long as it takes to cover all the information they need to hear. They questioned why they would miss any information when there’s so many opportunities for communication, whether it’s during meetings or through email.

Dudley insists that council members will miss valuable details and that his new show will basically cover the same information that would have been discussed at committee meetings. The mayor said department heads will use PowerPoint presentations and images to illustrate their answers.

Dudley said he plans to tape four separate interviews a month. The production, tentatively called “Oak Harbor Issues With Mayor Scott Dudley,” will be broadcast on the city’s Channel 10 and will appear online at the city’s website.

It’s not a completely original idea. Jim Slowik, Dudley’s predecessor as mayor, had his own TV program called “Municipal Issues.” Each show focused on a different topic.

Several council members claim that Dudley is trying to turn their effort to be efficient and frugal into a political issue.

Councilwoman Tara Hizon said the mayor’s insistence on replacing committee meetings with a TV show is illogical.

“One of the benefits of condensing the four standing committees was to free up valuable staff time … since most department heads attended all four meetings,” she wrote in an email.

“A single meeting also meant an added benefit of audio/video cost savings. To drag department heads in front of the camera for individual interviews eliminates that time and cost savings,” Hizon added.

Hizon pointed out that Dudley and the staff set the agenda for the workshops and the mayor participates.

“If there’s a question to be asked or something to be pointed out, he can do so at any time,” she said.

Councilman Joel Servatius said he supports the most efficient means to communicate information to the council and the public. He pointed out that the council has a minimum of three meetings per month — two council meetings and a workshop — plus several other meetings are also added on top.

“If we’re not getting the information we need in that amount of meetings, then I would have to ask, Why?’ he said. “The council is more than willing to extend its regular meetings to accomplish whatever it is we need to accomplish.”

Almberg said he did some number crunching and estimates that Dudley’s show will cost “at least $2,000 a pop,” which includes staff time and paying Riney Production Services.

Almberg said he believes it’s a duplication of resources.

Dudley, however, maintains the city is saving money by eliminating the standing committee meetings, so the cost of his new production is a wash.

He said his motivation is to be as open and transparent with the community as possible. He recently also started his own blog, called the Mayor’s Corner, which is posted on the city’s website.


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