One stands in wonder at the cynicism of “It’s Time Saratoga!”. It doesn’t matter that it has been brought to their attention time and time again that they do not have the data to assert that they know the percentage of employees in city hall that support charter change and yet it seems that not a day goes by that I do not see this asserted in the media. I am hard pressed to explain this.
In the November 3 edition of the Saratogian Rick Fenton who is the head of “It’s Time Saratoga!” repeats it yet again. Referring to “the first ever survey” of city hall employees he asserts:
“To the question, does our current charter ensure accountability? 57 percent said no. Does it prevent wasteful spending? 67 percent said no. Effectively manage the city? 72 percent said no. Should the city have a city manager? 65 percent said yes.”
Similarly, Bob Turner made the claims on a popular website during the same week. Mr. Turner wins the award for having posted this misinformation the most times.
In the parlance of the times, these are alt facts.
There was nothing that any credible person would call a “survey” done as I have repeatedly documented on this blog. An unscientific questionnaire was sent out by email to an indeterminate number of city employees and a modest number responded. The questionnaire may offer some indication that some employees in city hall support change but it is fundamentally dishonest to suggest anything beyond that.
As the leader of “It’s Time Saratoga!” I expect that Mr. Fenton shared responsibility for the door hanger that promised people the city will save $500,000.00 a year “Immediately” if the charter is adopted. Even the controversial financial statement put out by the Charter Review Commission did not claim this much.
So I ask the readers of this blog to help me understand Mr. Fenton, Mr. Turner, et al.
I am from the old school. I do not expect people to see the world the way I do but when it comes to facts, I consider it fundamental to try to get them right. When I make a mistake of fact on this blog I acknowledge it. I do this because I value my reputation with the readers of this blog. If I am wrong, by acknowledging it I hope that readers will have confidence in what I say in the future. Aside from how I am perceived, it is important to me personally to be honest with others.
I hope this blog contributes to a more thoughtful city politics. Misrepresenting the truth to pass some legislation, no matter how beneficial it might seem, only serves to corrupt the ability of our community to move forward in a humane way.
I understand that people like Mr. Fenton and Mr. Turner want to get the charter adopted. I expect they and other members of his group may calculate that many of the people who read the Saratogian or their website or share this information on Facebook will have no idea that these men are presenting what appear to be compelling numbers but in fact is information that cannot be supported by fact. What I do not understand is how little they care about the thoughtful people who see how unethically they are behaving.
What makes Mr. Turner’s actions in this all the more troubling is that he has a class of students studying this campaign this semester and he is teaching it. What if you were a student in his class and privately critical of his behavior? Would you express this in any of the class discussions or in any written assignments?
It makes you wonder, do these people believe that by winning an election it somehow validates them and their shrewd and unprincipled behavior? Do they see people who value honesty as foolish and naïve?