Sunday, September 9, 2007

Waterfront Redevelopment: Mother Goose & the Doctors of Spin Revisited -PART 1

I had fun writing the Guest Editorial below -Circa June 2001.
It captured what I was trying to say without naming names.
It targeted those it needed to and left everyone else alone.
The 'buzz' it created was limited to a few observers, who maybe didn't get it all completely themselves either.
Oh, but some did get it!
Those were the ones who felt burned by the piece.
To their questions about who was implicated, the answer was simply 'if you think the shoe fits, by all means try it on'!

Now, it may be time for another iteration of this theme, this time to focus especially on our Waterfront Redevelopment.
That will be the subject of PART 2, to come later.
This time, I will try not be so obtuse that many people won't get it!

Growth Management, Lake Whatcom, Neighborhoods and Leadership also require more scrutiny during this Election Year, but these topics will require more time to develop for publication.
Mother Goose & the Doctors of Spin

Some of my fondest memories from childhood were the stories my mother read to me:

• Bible stories with their parables

• Classical books with their allegories, and

• Fairy tales with their morals.

While the details of these stories fade with time, their essential messages linger, because the stories are about life and its inevitable struggles, and contain valuable lessons about how we can live our life in ways that help us overcome its inherent difficulties.

How those days of yesteryear shined!
It seemed a much kinder, gentler time then.
Lately, the healthy stories, which usually promoted a moral principle, are being replaced with some meaner types of tales, with no purpose except to promote a particular point of view.
Modern lingo, almost politely, calls these tales by various names, like "negative campaigning", "spin-doctoring", and "misinformation".
Names I call them, in plain English, are propaganda, innuendo and lies.

Make no mistake about it, these modern "tales" are intentionally designed to fuzz the facts just enough to influence public perception in one direction or another, depending on the mission "du jour" and the scruples of the perpetrators.

Like the football adage "the best defense is a good offense", these new tales simply attack others rather than propose something positive themselves.

A cheap and sometimes effective tactic, this type of tale can be easily recognized and debunked, provided of course, the intended target audience bothers to ask a few good questions, or simply knows better.

Here are a few corrections to recent misinformation reported as fact in this Guest Column space, along with some possible fairy tale connections:

Chicken Little reported "excessive" taxes have been levied, but neglected to mention:

• Bellingham recently received a Friend of the Taxpayer Award from a recognized conservative watchdog, for its fiscal restraint in raising property taxes.

• Moody’s Rating Service recently granted the City an increase in its municipal bond rating, from A1 to Aa3, due to its outstanding record of sound fiscal management.

• The 7.6% property tax, reportedly passed, in response to the cloud of I-695 in 1999, was actually reduced to an amount sufficient to offset inflation.

And from the Wizard of Oz:

• Straw man (no brain) feels the Lake Whatcom Watershed Land Acquisition Ordinance was unnecessary, despite clear trends of degradation and a new DOE 303 (d) listing!

• Tin man (no heart) complained that the Civic Field Complex citizen’s initiative was too expensive, despite the heavy use of these facilities and major maintenance needs!

• Lion (no courage) failed to see the necessity of enacting the Surface & Storm Water Utility fees, needed to comply with Federal & State mandates!

Cinderella’s slipper of truth will never fit her ugly stepsister "Spin-derella", but that doesn’t prevent "Spin-derella" from trying to prevent public information from being disseminated via the city newsletter, in an accurate and timely manner.

The puppet Pinocchio, (whose nose grew every time he told a fib) might have said the City of Bellingham is unfriendly to business, but he failed to mention:

• The U.S. Conference of Mayors recently gave Bellingham national recognition for its support of the Small Business Service Center.

• Bellingham has been named recently as one of the most desirable places to establish a business, due to its talented labor pool and quality of life.

• The City is actively helping G-P with getting NAFTA benefits, training programs and new job placements for its laid-off workers. The city is also assisting G-P with the permitting of new gas turbine generators to enable them to become power independent.

Oh yes, don’t forget the Dog in the Manger; he actually begrudges the kids their new skateboard park!

I suspect that those who have trouble distinguishing gossip from gospel might not know what this column is really about.
Those folks could be part of the problem.
But, to citizens who do understand this message, I hope you will keep the faith and send your own message to those who are trying to substitute something less worthy, for the honesty, civility and good things to which most citizens aspire.
Just tell them you’ve "had enough" of their brand of negativism.
Bellingham is a wonderful place to live. Let’s keep it that way!