Randy Jennings added this comment to the discussion thread attached to my blog post in which I was critical of the CVB.
Since you have such strong opinions about how city government and affiliated agencies and organizations should operate, why don’t you run for mayor or city council?
Heck, you already attend a goodly number of the meetings, and it would be great to have you contribute to improving the accountability and transparency of our local institutions from a seat at the proverbial table, instead of lobbing incendiary accusations in the form of whining (your term, above), pejorative questions, and imperatives about how people “should ” do their jobs.
Of course, if you were to stand for election, you would run the risk of being the victim of vigilante blogging (which I suppose is different than citizen journalism, although exactly how they are different is becoming less and less clear). I imagine that being the target of such blogging would be rather unpleasant and largely unproductive. After all, most public officials do the best they can given the rules of engagement under which they operate. I’m sure you would, too, although your good intentions and best efforts might not be fully acknowledged or appreciated.
For the record, I missed the election when you ran to be the public ombudsman, but I would certainly vote for you for mayor. (Sorry, Mary Rossing. You’d be a great mayor, but Griff has the bully pulpit, and he’s not afraid to use it.)
I’m wondering how my efforts to shine a light on the CVB/Chamber arrangement are different than what happens at newspapers. For example:
- A recent Katherine Kersten column in the Strib critical of Muslim practices at a charter school that has triggered scrutiny by the State.
- Northfield News reporter Suzy Rook’s articles last year examining Mayor Lee Lansing’s financial history and his communications with city staff re: the liquor store location. Subsequent newspaper editorials criticized the mayor and called for his resignation.
I spent more time on the CVB post than I ordinarily do. I talked by phone to a former City Councilor, I met with Kathy F2F, I spoke at open mic, I talked to Chamber and CVB board members, and had conversations with several other citizens. And I spent many hours digging through documents and creating that blog post.
I do agree with Randy that Ross, Tracy and I have a bully pulpit with Locally Grown, and that we’re not afraid to use it. But I don’t think we engage in “vigilante blogging” which implies a reckless disregard in the methods used to criticize people and/or organizations involved in civic affairs.
‘Public ombudsman’? I dunno. I think that role has to be continually earned, and anyone, including for-profit media organizations and citizen bloggers, can try.
So I see my CVB blog post as an opinionated, fact-based piece, sort of a hybrid of a newspaper investigative article and a subsequent editorial. I’m sure I could have done it better so I’m interested in feedback.