WEST PALM BEACH — Longtime CBS 12 reporter Kathleen Walter is leaving the beleaguered station for a new gig in government.
A source inside West Palm Beach City Hall tells Gossip Extra exclusively that the 43-year-old Walter is scheduled to start as the city’s communications director sometime next week.
One of the last remaining reporters at the station with double digit years of local experience, Walter was quietly offered the gig that once belonged to Elliot Cohen, the controversial Mayor Jeri Muoio confidante whose side work for a city contractor and feuds with reporters raised the eyebrows of most sane government watchers.
Walter accepted the job last week after the city received more than 100 applications, including many from reporters desperate to exit from the dying local corporate media.
Walter becomes the de facto face of city government and is expected to get plenty of air time during emergencies like hurricanes or when controversies hit city government. She’s also in charge of wpb.org.
The city hall insider, who asked to remain nameless in this story, said a committee of government employees picked Walter. West Palm Beach Police spokeswoman Lori Colombino was on that committee and voted for Walter.
Colombino’s presence on the committee was an olive branch to the police department after Cohen last year managed to alienate the PD by blaming it for several city snafus.
Cohen was the one who published on the city’s website information about on-going police investigations that also included the names of police informants. Gossip Extra broke that story last year, and revealed the fact that several informants were sent to a state safe house in Orlando for weeks while the smoke cleared.
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Gossip Extra also broke the story that Cohen used his middle name to work for Redevelopment Management Associates in clear violation of city policies. The county’s Inspector General advised the city to take another look at its contract with the company as a result of Cohen’s actions but Muoio so far has refused.
Cohen also distinguished himself with his poisoned relationship with reporters, including with Walter.
Cohen quietly vanished from his city job in late summer.
Walter’s appointment, meanwhile, is particularly important for the city as Muoio, who is term-limited but is thinking about running for a Palm Beach County Commission seat, can’t afford another disaster like Cohen before she announces her candidacy.
Walter, a Benjamin Schools grad who also worked for WPTV-Channel 5, didn’t return calls for comment.
Her last day is Thursday.