For The Record
Posted by David Keelan on Wednesday, November 1, 2006
I was hoping that all of this would just blow over… silly me. You may use this, unaltered, if you like… or ignore it- as you wish.
For the record….
It was I who cut and pasted names and comments and titles that were submitted to me into the press release. The inception of the idea, the organization of the press conference and the creation of the press release was done in the space of about 36 hours. There was no single organizer… it was more of a coming together of right minded activists.
Most participants remembered to tell me their names and comments, but neglected to tell me titles or party affiliations. I filled in the blanks from what I knew. I thought the titles were an important means of identifying what issues or areas of the county that each person represented. I thought it was great that we had folks from Columbia and that we had farmers and attorneys and environmentalists. I believed it showed a diversity of background and I thought the titles showed credibility- we weren’t neophytes, we’d been in the trenches of advocacy for a long time.
It never occurred to me that, if we were speaking as individuals- which I made clear at the very beginning of the press release- that there was any issue in listing the organizations to which we were connected. It simply never entered my radar. I looked up the correct title for Barbara and for Cynthia on the CA website. Of course I spelled Cynthia’s name incorrectly. I knew that Rebecca was associated with the new coalition, but did not know of her other Columbia connections and in fact, met her for the first time at the press conference. I made about 20 copies of the press release and handed it out to reporters at the site and gave a copy to Chris Merdon. I told Mr. Merdon he was welcome to use it in an ad. He used the information exactly as I gave it to him.
I know it’s more exciting to believe in conspiracy and evil strategy, but the simple truth is that we were just trying to let voters know that this small group of hard-working community activists supported Merdon for County Executive. I take full responsibility for the content of that list of names.
The fallout and outrage has been way out of proportion.
People’s jobs and livelihoods have been threatened, their ethics have been called into question.
We need to get a little perspective on this. No matter where you fall in this argument, I encourage you to check your heart for your motives. If it isn’t a partisan issue, then there is plenty of time to review the circumstances and to create new regulations, if necessary. But a hastily scheduled special meeting that may or may not be closed to the public is not the right path towards change and it is far more dangerous precedent to our democratic tradition than any endorsement could ever be.