This is not about Todd-Bashing
It is about Truth-Telling
By: Susan M. Halpern
Addison Councilmember (1992-99)
We are heartened that people are reading what we’ve posted. We do believe we’re making a difference, particularly on the employee compensation issue. More about that later. The focus of this piece is the efforts being made to dismiss our group as nothing more than a bunch of “Todd-Bashers.” I guess the hope is that by labeling us in this manner, our real message will be trivialized. We hope not, but thought the best course was to tackle the accusation head-on.
The fundamental premise of our group is to get “the rest of the story” to Addison’s residents. We felt this was necessary because as things have evolved, the Town’s newsletter has come to be primary source of information for Addison’s residents. And, as has been discussed, Meier has laid claim to the newsletter, is the sole source of information written in the newsletter, and continues to guard that turf with an iron fist.
So our first point is: Whether you are a Meier supporter or not, who among us thinks that having a sole source of information is healthy or appropriate? Information is power, folks, and Meier understands that equation. Our hope is to upset that applecart and provide “the rest of the story.”
Second, we have already shown that Meier doesn’t always provide accurate information, including on controversial and key issues. For example, we have discussed Meier’s newsletter misrepresentations about what happened at a key budget meeting last Fall. Why did that matter? Because it significantly shaped public discourse on the issue of employee compensation and on Neil Resnik, who was falsely accused of cutting off debate. None of which is proper or healthy for our Town, but all of which has no place occurring in a Town-owned and Town-funded newsletter.
So this is our challenge: how to explain “the rest of the story” without taking Meier to task for making it necessary for us to do so? Here’s another example: Chris DeFrancisco asked our City Attorney for a legal opinion on our Town’s newsletter. In that same newsletter, Meier called DeFrancisco’s request a “demand letter.” C’mon, a councilmember asking our Town’s lawyer for a legal opinion is a “demand letter?” That’s absurd, but it was also a clear attack on DeFrancisco. It was wrong for Meier to do this, and it is appropriate for us to challenge it. That is not “Todd-Bashing.” It is truth-telling.
This point should not be lost: There is deep irony in the fact that truth-telling reflects poorly on Meier. What’s wrong with that picture?
So for those who have attacked our work in this manner, we respond: Shouldn’t the concern really be the conduct that has caused our reaction in the first place? Shouldn’t the real concern be with Meier’s conduct in “Resnik-Bashing” and “DeFrancisco-Bashing” in our Town-owned and Town-funded newsletter? Shouldn’t the real concern be with a politicized Town-owned and Town-funded newsletter that is being misused by an elected official to mislead Addison’s residents?
We say, don’t attack us, stand with us and demand more from our elected officials. Demand truth in dealing with issues, including our project.
Because the truth here is that this fight is not about our reactions, but about the conduct that is causing us to react in the first place.