At a press conference Thursday morning in his sixth-floor offices in the City Administration Building , Mayor Steve Bach announced that KOAA Channel 5 news director Cindy Aubrey would be the city’s new chief communications officer.
According to Bach, Aubrey was selected from 18 applicants for the job.
“Cindy brings an incredible skill set to this important position,” said Bach. “We are very fortunate to find someone of her caliber who is so strongly committed to moving the city forward.”
Aubrey will begin her job next Wednesday, July 20. Stephannie Finley, who has served as Bach’s de facto communications director since his inauguration, will be leaving as soon as the transition to Aubrey is complete to return to her work at the Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce.
Aubrey, who has worked at KOAA for 17 years and as news director since 2003, has a reputation as a consummate professional. She’s deeply involved in the community, and even more deeply engaged with Colorado Springs media.
Under Aubrey, it’s fair to assume that the city will indeed be open and accessible, as the mayor has often stated. As one who has headed a local news-gathering operation, she well understands the needs of reporters. And she likely understands that attempts to limit, control, manage or channel media access to city employees won’t work.
Bach struggled once again to define the city’s recently articulated media policy, which appears aimed at preventing reporters from gathering unmediated information.
While claiming that his new administration would be “the most open in the history of the city,” he also defended the administration’s requirement that “policy oriented” questions be channeled through Aubrey and the communications department.
“It’s absolutely not the intent to (restrict media access),” he said. “We’re trying to build a dialogue with you folks.”
Asked whether he’d support a media policy similar to that adopted by Boulder, which simply posts the names and phone numbers of all department heads on the city’s website, Bach had a surprising answer.
“I don’t see why not,” he said, making it clear that the administration may be ready to change bureaucratic mandates, even ones of its own creation.
Aubrey’s new gig carries a salary of $95,000 annually, a figure that seemed beyond imagination to many of the ink-stained wretches covering the press conference. Alas, for Aubrey, she’s taking a pay cut.
“She’s taking a significant compensation reduction,” said Bach. “She’s worth more, but she took this job because she’s at a point in her career where she wants to make a difference.”
“I want to be part of the transformation,” she said.
Bach’s office is spacious and functional, but hardly baronial. It’s about what you’d expect of a CEO of a small company: a 10-chair conference table, a desk and a reasonable view. That view, looking over the parking garage at the Pioneers Museum and the southern half of Cheyenne Mountain, is decidedly pedestrian, at least for Colorado Springs.
No Pikes Peak? How suite it isn’t?
But it doesn’t look as if the new mayor spends much time in his office. The desktop was absolutely bare — not a scrap of paper, no computer, nothing at all except a landline.