City Hires former Reporter, Ramage, as Citizen Advocate
(APN) ATLANTA — In an interesting twist of events, the City of Atlanta has hired Stephanie Ramage, former reporter, editor, and columnist for the Sunday Paper magazine, as its first Citizen Advocate.
As previously reported by Atlanta Progressive News, Sunday Paper ceased covering news, let Ramage go, and went online-only. Meanwhile, Ramage had started her own blog at stephanieramage.com.
When Ramage was first let to from the Sunday Paper, she questioned the timing of it, having been fired right after her boss received a phone call from the Mayor’s Office, upset with an article Ramage had written.
And so, Reed’s current move is either intended to co-opt and silence a critic; is a radical approach to improve City Hall; or both.
“Mayor Kasim Reed announced today that Stephanie Ramage, a longtime local journalist and blogger, has joined the City of Atlanta as Citizen Advocate, a new position that will help improve service delivery for residents and business owners across a broad spectrum, including water and sewer billing, permitting and licensing,” the Mayor’s Office said in a statement.
“The Office of the Citizen Advocate will provide residents and business owners with an identifiable point of contact within the City of Atlanta to help them resolve problems that have failed to be addressed through traditional channels in various departments,” the Mayor’s Office said.
“Mayor Reed invited Ramage to work on behalf of taxpayers in a manner that will have a more tangible impact on their lives than in her role as an investigative reporter and columnist,” the Mayor’s Office said.
“Stephanie Ramage’s track record as a reporter shows that she says what she thinks and she’s not afraid to critique anyone,” Mayor Reed said.
“As Citizen Advocate, I am certain she will work tirelessly on behalf of our residents and business owners and help make the city address problems in a manner that leads to better, faster and more efficient service,” Reed said.
“In her position, Ramage will ferret out problems on behalf of citizens and deliver an honest assessment of the City’s handling of the situation. She will take citizens’ concerns to the involved parties — from front line workers up to department heads. She will investigate the city’s response, assess its effectiveness and timeliness, determine exactly where breakdowns in communication or service are occurring, and make recommendations for resolution to the appropriate city leaders,” the Mayor’s Office said.
“The establishment of the Office of the Citizen Advocate is part of Mayor Reed’s goal to improve service in Atlanta and help keep government accountable. Many cities, ranging in size from New York to Jacksonville, Fla., employ a person who serves as a citizen advocate, public advocate or ombudsman,” the Mayor’s Office said.