by David Williams, HNN Freelance Correspondent
COLUMN: Lack of Communication Causes Problems for City

The closing of the West End Pedestrian Tunnel has created a public relations nightmare for the City of Huntington's administration. The silly thing is they may not even be aware of it. The administration failed to foresee how the public would react to the closure. This failure, in turn, made it seem as the city did it out if spite. Gauging social media would have told the city that many thought the cleaning of the tunnel was symbolic of the city coming together.

The fact is the administration likely did not have an idea the kind of reaction that was going to happen. Logic would dictate that the city public works director either made the decision to close it or at least had an input. After all,he was the man who Todd Sweeney had to go to for approval to clean it. Now, it appears not only did Jimbo Insco not make the call, but he may not have been aware of what was going to happen.

Communication is essential to teamwork. One hand has to know what the other is doing. First mistake was not knowing that this tunnel was near and dear to the community who worked hard to clean it. The second mistake was not telling everyone in administration, including council members who would be asked questions by the public, what was going to happen. The third mistake was not explaining why it was going to be closed.

There are logical arguments why it should be closed and logical arguments why it should not be closed. Perhaps it should have been debated at a council meeting and put up for vote.

But it's not really the closing itself that's fueling the anger. There's hurt feelings because of a misunderstanding because communication failed. The city looked like they resented the work citizen groups were doing and inflicted the power but likely what happened was that someone got complaints and without communicating they made a decision which set off a firestorm.   They are not paying attention to social media, they probably do not even realize there is a firestorm.

The lack of communication is turning small issues into big issues. Yes, people will blame Alligator Jackson for stirring the pot....but they need to accept how powerful social media is and get out in front of it with communication.

They can reject it and get constantly burned by it or accept and embrace it which may help them embrace. Blaming Alligator Jackson is like saying, "we would have gotten away with it if it wasn't for those meddling kids!"

Several groups are huge. Alligator Jackson has over 17,000 followers. Times are changing. Facebook will have a huge role in the 2020 elections. Hopefully, it can help vote out the lazy, unproductive politicians who refuse to accept social media.


Social media can either may or break you....the trick is learning to use it or control it. Social media is not going is an essential part of communication. Social can bring people together or tear them apart. The administration needs know how to communicate with the modern media. The problem is they won't even realize this until they are voted out because they underestimate the power of social media.

Update......Mayor Steve responded

"David, city council asked about the tunnel at the last council meeting and I told them I was having options presented to me as to how to close the tunnel. Council asked questions and I answered them. If any council member said they didn't know plans were being made to close the tunnel, they weren't listening."