Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Election Wake-up Call - A Week Late

We had a primary election here last week and to say that the results were disappointing would be an understatement.   I've heard folks threaten to move and some are already talking recall. What a mess.

I was absolutely appalled that the one officer on the board, who really knew what she was doing, lost the election to a completely unknown, inexperienced person.  

The person on the board who has both libeled and slandered me over the last eight years won handily over a certified public accountant.  At least that salary has been lowered to $20,000 a year, down from $100,000+.  

The person who won the primary race for supervisor in our township is a man who made excuses for a woman who left her baby outside to die.  And now he is defending the folks who sell fireworks and those flaming sky lanterns in a local lawsuit, and you know how I feel about that issue.

I wondered why all this happened and I chalked it up to the fact that we don't have a local newspaper.  No one is reporting on the news in our community anymore.  

To give you a little history, I became a member of the Board in 1988 as the result of an attempt to oust four of the seven-member Township Board.  One of the leaders of that campaign was Geoffrey Feiger, a name that may be familiar to some of you.  

One of the members being recalled was the Township clerk who ultimately resigned.  I applied for the position and received the endorsement of the local newspaper, which I referred to as the 'kiss of death'.  I knew there was no way that I was going to be appointed to the position since the local newspaper clearly was supporting the OUST movement. 

A few months later the supervisor who was being recalled resigned due to ill health (he  died of cancer a few months later).  When the then treasurer was appointed to that position, I applied for the position of Treasurer with something like 14 other candidates.  I was absolutely shocked that I was the one appointed.

One local newspaper stayed on top of everything we did.   For many years a reporter always came and covered our meetings and what was going on.  Sometimes it was really trivial reporting, like the time they decided to do a one-page piece on what every member of the board wore to the meeting.  Another local paper also had a reporter, but that paper was 'free' to most folks and you get what you pay for, though there were a few reporters there over the years whom I respected.

There was a time in the early 90's when it was highly contentious on the board.  I often felt that the reporting was inaccurate and a couple of times I went to the newspaper to discuss it with them.  But, they had their point of view and I had mine.  For several years the reporting continued on a very regular basis, but eventually they stopped coming to the meetings and started watching them on cable television.  Sometimes we wondered if they were actually even watching because what they were reporting and what actually happened at the meeting didn't seem to jibe.  We wondered if they'd heard things by word-of-mouth rather than actually watching what was going on.  By 2009 the local paper had closed and the 'free' paper had stopped sending a reporter.  But up until that time, residents had access to news of what was going on, even if they were not attending meetings or watching on cable TV.

I was not even going to say anything about the election and what happened except that I had watched John Oliver on HBO Sunday night and he was talking about this very issue of print journalism and how newspapers were going the way of the dodo bird. 

Real investigative journalism, like we saw in the movie Spotlight, seems to be disappearing. I'm afraid we're not gonna know who is ripping off whom if we don't have knowledgeable journalists watching what's going on - reporting and doing investigative journalism. Without them we're ripe for misinformation from government officials taking advantage of their offices.  (like these two)

Voters really need to be informed and they need to pay attention to what's happening.  You can't get good government if you don't find out who the candidates are and you can't go by what the candidates themselves are saying because, I hate to say it, but candidates and politicians lie.  They say what they think you want to hear.  Just watching the meetings, when politicians know they are on camera, does not give you the full picture.  

I could go on and on, but I am afraid folks are more interested in reality TV and finding Pokemon than what is happening in their local communities.  I hope I am wrong.

4 comments:

  1. Unfortunately most people just cannot get interested in elections and a good mouthpiece can convince them of anything. I am a bit the same way I'm afraid. A very good example of this was the Brexit vote in the UK. Most of the voters didn't really know what they were voting for or what it was all about.

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    1. Yes. I've already heard people say they wish they had voted. Too late.

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  2. You are so right in What you say and, like Jo, I can be guilty of the same thing but I do like to find out more than what they just say. It's so easy to just take their words and go rah rah but most people don't want to take the time to really look into things. I think of the Trump/Clinton bru-ha-ha as a reality show in itself which is a shame

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  3. I do agree with voters being informed, that is my prayer for our upcoming election.

    Betty

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