The point of the 12 questions series is to provide you with real responses and analyses from your local officials. Since it’s an interview, it is fair to them since it lets them put their best foot forward too. While I prefer face to face interviews, I also offered an e-mail interview option which would have been an exchange of e-mails, not just a re-print of whatever answers they provided to me, like the mayor wanted. In both cases I would include analysis, especially in the areas of broadband, homelessness and transportation where I have expertise.
In the modern age, news outlets act too often simply as PR firms for politicians and this is sadly what many politicians have come to expect. In fact, they won’t even talk to news sources that don’t guarantee them certain kinds of interviews, that provide no real analyses. That’s why I will not be voting for anyone who does not respond to real interviews, with real analysis, like the 12 questions series.
To date Michael Lilliquist and Gene Knutson are the only local politicians to sit down with me in person and do a real interview that also allowed analysis. They did not try to censor me in any way, or even suggest it, like the mayor did. This level of transparency is exactly what you should expect from all of your politicians.
This is sadly not true of your mayor, Kelli Linville, and most of your council. With that said, I did have some other responses that might be laughable, if our situation weren’t so serious. Pinky Vargas, Dan Hamill, Roxanne Murphy (our local arbiter of the 1st Amendment), and Terry Bornemann did not respond at all. April Barker said my questions are too lengthy and she might answer some of them via e-mail, maybe, kind-a, sort-of.
The mayor responded in a disturbing way and, of course, she used a scapegoat/assistant, so she can pretend she was misrepresented no matter what happens. It’s a classic maneuver from a politician who is more used to appearing to care than providing real solutions. Well, that is except for her friends in the top 5%. She’ll give them our money all day long, without really looking into it. She likes anti-net neutral, anti-first amendment telecoms too like Comcast, Verizon, and especially CenturyLink. Oh yes, she cares about the homeless sooo much, that’s why she just couldn’t open up a publicly-owned 52,000 sq. foot building to keep them from freezing to death this winter, or even bother looking into it, because she cares about them. The name of the building is Lignin on Cornwall behind the Opportunity Council. I and many others communicated this to our officials. Michael Shepard is the only one who actually looked into it. She also only bothered to show up to the camp site for a short period of time, that HomesNow setup this December. Dan Hamill and April Barker also had some brief appearances there. Wouldn’t it have been appropriate for her to spend a night there? Isn’t that true of every council member? At least Gene Knutson and Michael Lilliquist responded to the problem in their interviews. There have been many articles written just on NWCitizen about all of this, and the jail scandal, so I’ll skip ahead here.
I will put the full e-mail exchange I had with her assistant in the comments below and explain why politicians can get away with non-responses. It has to do with a sad, long-term, trend in journalism where journalists often cut deals with politicians, where they treat them like royalty instead of public officials in a free society, and make deals with each other. The deal goes something like this. A journalist approaches the mayor and says, “I’d like to do a real interview with you and provide analysis to the community they can use to make real decisions with when election time comes.” If the official responds at all, which they usually don’t because they don’t like actually being held accountable, they say, “Well the only way I’ll agree to it is if you provide me with the questions and offer to print my answers, unaltered, and without analysis.” This effectively turns the paper into a PR firm for the mayor, which is unethical, but the kind of pretend journalism you see out of the Herald and other less ethical publications. This is the deal the mayor recently offered me. Pretending that my format of meeting with the candidates, recording the interviews, transcribing them word for word, summarizing the interviews to make them a readable size, and providing actual analysis is somehow odd. Perhaps to her it is because she is not used to having to answer hard questions. Also, she says she cares about the gun issue, but couldn’t stand with our heroic kids at the rally on February 21st?! She says she was in Olympia working on the issue, but because the city is very limited in what they can do, aside from applying a few zoning laws, shouldn’t she have been at the event, providing a speech herself to back up our heroic kids? Shouldn’t the entire council have been there? They keep saying that speaking out is the most effective thing they can do after all. You would think they would have been proud to stand next to our kids, teachers, school administrators, and community in general and speak on their behalf. Well at least they sent a letter.
This behavior is sadly not surprising because our politicians are used to being able to go to other sources that coddle them out of fear of not getting an interview at all, and simply regurgitate whatever the official says. That is not journalism. It is simply printing propaganda and flyers for officials. The hour is too late for this kind of response from the mayor’s office. Both Gene and Michael were happy with their interviews, since we do not misrepresent officials at NWCitizen. We also do not print propaganda. I explained this to the mayor’s assistant and have been told it has been passed on to the mayor. The hour is late. We have serious problems and need straight answers from our officials. I urge you, regardless of your party affiliations, to expect a higher level of transparency from your officials. The kind of responses I have been getting from most of them are what we call “Cadbury Creme Egg” responses. Meaning that they look hard and good on the surface, but have a soft, creamy, center. This kind of response is what too many of our officials specialize in. We all deserve better. By the way, in IT we also call the security model most of you are unknowingly using, the “Cadbury Creme Egg” model from an attacker’s point of view. In short, you all deserve better from any politician, regardless of their party affiliation.