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Whitmer needs to make her team available to local press

Repeatedly throughout her tenure, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer or her team have snuck into Northeast Michigan either in person or virtually without alerting the local press.

The last time the governor spoke to The News was February 2019, during a tour of Alpena Community College early in her tenure and long before the coronavirus pandemic and her response to it raised important questions that need to be answered.

Back in February, Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist answered questions in a “town hall” that actually was little more than a scripted event. The News learned of that event only through local sources and had to press hard to get access to cover the thing.

Now, we learned last week — again through local sources — that Gilchrist planned a tour today in Rogers City.

News reporters also have repeatedly struggled to reach Whitmer’s office for comment on stories about state policies affecting Northeast Michigan.

We understand Whitmer and Gilchrist are busy fighting a pandemic and running the state and she has made herself repeatedly available to the Capitol press corps for questions.

But it’s important that governors make themselves available to local press who can ask questions on behalf of their communities about issues specific to their communities. News reporters, for example, could ask dozens of questions about state policies and the Whitmer administration’s actions that reporters from the Lansing State Journal or Detroit Free Press would never think to ask because they don’t live here.

Taxpayers and voters here deserve to hear those answers.

We encourage Whitmer’s team to make time for local press, here in Alpena and in other smaller communities around the state, especially when they’re on the road in those places.

We’ve got some tough (but fair) questions for you, too. And our readers deserve the chance for us to ask them.

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