My View: The Community Needs to Come to Together If It Wants Economic Development

Chief Innovation Officer Rob White introduces Lawrence Livermore Economic Development Director Betsy Cantwell, Wednesday night at the Vanguard 8th Birthday Party
Chief Innovation Officer Rob White introduces Lawrence Livermore Economic Development Director Betsy Cantwell, Wednesday night at the Vanguard 8th Birthday Party

One of the great things about Wednesday night was the sheer diversity of the group of people who attended the Vanguard’s 8th Birthday event. If there was a common thread it was about the group of people who read the Vanguard. In the early days, perhaps you could pigeonhole that group, but when you have 5000 regular readers and 70 of them show up on a given day, you see an interesting cross-section.

It was a group of people that you often don’t see coming together in the city of Davis. And frankly, it is a group of people that, if economic development is going to be approved in Davis, we need to get on board that process.

One of my highlights of the evening was that, following the speeches, I tagged along as Tim Ruff and his wife led a small group of six people over to the Nishi property just before dark. This was not a group of people inclined to either support or oppose the Nishi-Gateway project – in fact the remarkable thing is that they mostly knew nothing about it. They were learning about it for the very first time.

In Davis we tend to think of the extremes — those people who seem to oppose everything and those people who are willing to back just about anything — but the truth is that there is a much broader middle than anyone may think. And the key will be the ability of those proposing the projects to reach out to that middle.

A lot of people have come up to me who attended the event and said they enjoyed the speeches and the talks. Some believe that Livermore is not a good example for land use policies and that may well be. We brought in Betsy Cantwell largely because she could speak to the issue of, in her case, Laboratory-Community collaboration and, in our case, University-City collaboration and tech transfer.

Some people came to me and did not realize how little UC Davis has done over the years in terms of driving tech transfer compared to other similar entities like the Lawrence Livermore Lab. For those people, Betsy Cantwell’s talk was an educational experience.

The remarkable aspect of this Innovation Park consideration process, I think, is how many people in this community are willing to go into this with an open mind. It is not that there are not people who have concerns about developing on the periphery – that is clearly the case. But the fiscal conditions in the city are such that people for the first time are saying that they will be willing to listen to the possibilities rather than close their minds.

Rob White cracks a joke with David Greenwald
Rob White cracks a joke with David Greenwald

But this is a mutual process. There has been a small wave of discussion (which I don’t think is particularly helpful)  that has derided people in the community who tend to be slow growthers. Labeling people in derogatory ways – whether it is the “no on everything” label, the Spiro Agnew rejoinder “nattering nabobs of negativism,” or simply “anti-growthers” is not very helpful.

It unnecessarily draws lines and creates polarity where such polarity might not otherwise exist.

I’ll use myself as an example: I voted no on Measure X because I thought the project was too large and that they had failed to control traffic impacts. I voted against Target because I’m generally against Big Box Retail. I voted for Measure P (Wildhorse Ranch) because I thought it was a small net zero project. I voted for Measure R because I support the rights of citizens to vote on major land use issues facing their community.  Taking those votes as a whole, it would be easy to label me as a nattering nabob of slow-growth negativity.

However, based on my current view of Davis’ fiscal situation, I’m willing to vote for one or two of these economic development projects if they are well designed and appear to fit our community needs.

I’m not willing to end Measure R, but I think that with good projects that are well explained to the community we can retain our growth control policies and at the same time develop cool and sustainable innovation parks.

Councilmember Brett Lee shares a story on Wednesday
Councilmember Brett Lee shares a story on Wednesday

However, I have to tell you, whoever the project proponents end up being, whether they be official in the form of the developers or whether they are community supporters, you need to be careful whom you put forward as your spokespeople, and you need to watch your rhetoric.

There are people in this community – those who read this site on a regular basis know who they may be – who, if they emerge as the major advocates for this site, are going to make it very difficult for me to push for these projects – if they end up being projects that I support.

Every time I hear some of these people put down other people in this community it makes me want to throw up my hands and run. Some of these people are, quite frankly, responsible for the fiscal mess that we are in and have absolutely no business stepping forward to take the lead on this.

In the large scheme, you put down people at your own risk. If you want to create consensus, then you need to lose the negative labels. If you want to bring people together, then put forward people that are inclusive and consensus builders rather than polarizing forces.

The more these polarizing figures in the community lead, the more people you push to opposition. The more times you hear people putting down those who are concerned about the community impacts of growth, the more people you push into the opposing camp.

Finally, I hear people all the time talk about the need for people to get over their differences and come together to work for the best interests of the community. It sounds good. In concept, it is the way to go.

But I think we have to be realistic. Some of these differences are deep down and, frankly, if you want people to move to support your project or your vision, you have to be the one that makes the first move, you have to make people feel comfortable in a new world. That is not going to be an easy task.

So my best advice – pick people who can unify the electorate to lead. Leave people who are polarizing forces behind. And lose the rhetoric. Maybe, just maybe, we can come together long enough to ensure a better future for our community.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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54 Comments

  1. Tia Will

    Thanks David.

    I would like to elaborate a bit on one point regarding the negative effects of personal attacks. When we think about this issue it is frequently portrayed as “hurt feelings” of the individual targeted and thus not taken seriously. Some posters have said that this is just their style, or that they are doing it for the impact of the imagery, or that people just need to “grow thicker skins”.

    What I would like to point out is that sometimes a request for information or consideration of nuances is just that, a request for information. When this is greeted not by information but rather by a barrage of negative personal comments, what this implies to me is that the individuals involved in the defamatory comments may not have thought through the point being made and thus may be unable to address the issue factually.

    To me, this may mean that all aspects of the decision at hand may not have been considered. While this does not put me in further opposition due to the negativism itself, it certainly may make me have additional questions about what else is not being looked at. The way to win support in my opinion is not to belittle but rather attempt to understand the concern and explain your difference of viewpoint. If you have never considered the issue from the others point of view, a god time to do so would be before you have pigeonholed them into your preconceived notion of what their motive must be and certainly before you start launching the negative stereotypes.

  2. SODA

    YES Tia!
    As I often am the first commenter on a DV article (tho you today), I find my comments are commonly of the clarifying, questioning variety. And so they don’t necessarily get trashed, but the don’t get answered either.
    I so agree that the best things about the DV are the article contents AND the questions/extra info and views that are expressed which more than once have changed my mind on an issue but always broaden my view. The worst part of the DV is the snipping and personal attacks. I was hoping a number of DV posters would ‘come out’ at the party, but most I talked to said they are readers not posters. Everyone brings something to the table!

  3. Davis Progressive

    it would be interesting if more of the readers would come post. it might balance the scales a bit more, but then again, despite the fact that this place is more civil than it was, it is still not for the feint of heart.

  4. Anon

    So if you are critical of no-growthers, or are critical of those who will approve just about anything, or critical of anyone’s opinion on economic development, you should not be included in the conversation about economic development? The Vanguard itself has had no problem embracing some of the most extreme elements in this town and given them a convenient forum to vent their spleen, but has suddenly decided only “reasonable persons” should be the leading advocates for economic development? And who is to decide who is a “reasonable advocate”? LOL

    IMO, the Vanguard is missing a huge and unfortunate phenomenon that has developed in this town. There are a group of citizens who have decided they will threaten lawsuits, referendums, etc. to get their way. They also start their campaigns early by complaining about everything under the sun, to try and create confusion and sow seeds of dissension among citizens. In short, they do not play fair, and occasionally get “caught” in their wrongdoing, e.g. taking down campaign signs, failed lawsuits, etc. The Vanguard cannot have it both ways, by fostering the very polarizing elements it deems are not “unifying” the conversation on economic development.

    1. Davis Progressive

      “So if you are critical of no-growthers, or are critical of those who will approve just about anything, or critical of anyone’s opinion on economic development, you should not be included in the conversation about economic development?”

      how i read this is that if you are trying to bring the community together on this issue, you can’t do it if you’re engaged in name calling. is that really an unreasonable point?

      “The Vanguard itself has had no problem embracing some of the most extreme elements in this town and given them a convenient forum to vent their spleen, but has suddenly decided only “reasonable persons” should be the leading advocates for economic development? And who is to decide who is a “reasonable advocate”? LOL”

      think the vanguard has changed dramatically in the last few years. who decides? the people running the campaigns obviously have to decide.

      “IMO, the Vanguard is missing a huge and unfortunate phenomenon that has developed in this town. There are a group of citizens who have decided they will threaten lawsuits, referendums, etc. to get their way. They also start their campaigns early by complaining about everything under the sun, to try and create confusion and sow seeds of dissension among citizens. In short, they do not play fair, and occasionally get “caught” in their wrongdoing, e.g. taking down campaign signs, failed lawsuits, etc. ”

      i don’t think the vanguard is missing anything. but if you are trying to bring the middle citizens on board, you don’t do it by polarization.

      “Vanguard cannot have it both ways, by fostering the very polarizing elements it deems are not “unifying” the conversation on economic development.”

      recent example where the vanguard has done this?

    2. Matt Williams

      “The Vanguard itself has had no problem embracing some of the most extreme elements in this town and given them a convenient forum to vent their spleen.”

      That is an interesting perspective Anon. Throughout the most recent election cycle as I canvassed for Robb Davis and No On Measure P, I regularly heard the complaint that they no longer read the Vanguard because “the Vanguard has no problem embracing the most extreme elements in this town who want to abandon the town’s historical character. So if we take your criticism and those criticisms and put them together, it would appear that the Vanguard is providing an open, transparent forum where citizens/residents of Davis can come and dialogue about the issues that are most important to the community. The Vanguard isn’t selective in whom it “embraces.” All points of view are welcome.

      You have selected the term “reasonable persons” in your comment. I would have selected a different term “polarizing persons.” I believe Tia Will is a reasonable person, but that gives me no expectation that she and I will agree on any particular issue at hand. However, because Tia is not a polarizing person, I expect that we will be able to fruitfully dialogue about the issues … and even come to a collaborative middle ground. Tia is representative of the kind of dialogue leaders and thought leaders that we should be looking to to lead the community discussion about innovation. Rob White is “reasonable” and not “polarizing.” During the long community dialogue about water, SODA asked me a whole myriad of pointed, and often difficult questions. As tough as some of those questions were, they never came across as polarizing. She also expressed her concerns about the issues, and never descended into personal attacks, no matter how much she may have disagreed with the person (or people) who were on the opposite side of the issue.

      I could be wrong, but what I hear you calling for is censorship by the Vanguard of the Vanguard comment posters. Do you really want to go there? I certainly don’t, and on several occasions have had headed exchanges with Don Shor (about the water project in 2012 and about Mace 391 in 2013) when he strongly advocated for a cessation of all talk that was either against the water project or for reconsidering the Mace 391 easement. I had similar heated exchanges with Elaine Roberts Musser about her desire to censor the opponents of the surface water project. Democracy is messy, but at its heart it is inclusive. Sometimes it becomes polarized, but at its heart it isn’t polarizing. It also is a process which does produce winners and losers. In your comment above you use the phrase “occasionally get caught in their wrongdoing.” I agree with you that taking down the campaign signs of the other side of the democratic battle is wrong, but the last time I checked, our laws allow for (and set up procedures for) lawsuits.

      1. Don Shor

        and on several occasions have had headed exchanges with Don Shor (about the water project in 2012 and about Mace 391 in 2013) when he strongly advocated for a cessation of all talk that was either against the water project or for reconsidering the Mace 391 easement.

        That is a complete misrepresentation of any position I have taken. Complete nonsense.

        1. Matt Williams

          Don, you absolutely were 100% opposed to any reconsideration of the Mace 391 easement. You even told me that I needed to stop talking about any such reconsideration because “you don’t understand the imaense damage that this discussion of reconsideration is doing.”

          In the water debate in 2012 you strongly advocated for the cessation of Mike Harrington’s ability to post his inflamatory comments on the Vanguard. Rusty49 regularly complained that you removed posts of his, many of which were anti-suface water project. That was the first time I saw the “parental” side of Don Shor. I respect your right to feel that way. I just don’t agree with the censorship that comes with it.

          1. Don Shor

            Matt, this is a complete misrepresentation of my actions and positions with regard to Vanguard activities. In general I will not engage you on the Vanguard any more, specifically because you do this kind of thing. In this instance, I feel it is necessary to set the record straight: what you have said here is simply not true.

          2. Matt Williams

            Don, the comments are there in the historical threads. When your passions get up, you fight hard. I respect that. You have even sent me personal e-mails asking me “to stop, because just talking about the easements is doing damage.” Water never rose to the personal e-mail level, mostly because we were in substantial agreement on that issue, but with respect to Mace 391 you pulled out all the stops.

          3. Barack Palin

            Boys, can we quit the sniping at each other. Interesting having two on the LEFT arguing with each other, huh Matt?

          4. Matt Williams

            BP, you are getting rusty. Anyone who is practical knows that Don and I are closer to the center than to the left.

          5. Barack Palin

            I just think it’s funny Matt how things people throw out there come full circle. I guess the saying goes “what goes around comes around.

          6. Matt Williams

            Understood BP. I’ve had a few things come full circle on me over the years. That is why I’m such a pack rat.

  5. Tia Will

    Anon

    “So if you are critical of no-growthers, or are critical of those who will approve just about anything, or critical of anyone’s opinion on economic development, you should not be included in the conversation about economic development?”

    I am curious what in the article or in the subsequent posts led you to believe that this is what was being suggested.
    The request in not that those who are in opposition to any particular point of view remain silent. The request is that the opposing opinion be directed at ideas and informed by facts, personal opinion and presentation of alternative perspectives rather than personal attack.
    I believe that it is entirely possible to discuss issues without nasty name calling. I fail to see how referring to groups of human beings as animals, or objectionable lesions on the body ( as has occurred in previous posts) encourages a constructive comparison of ideas. It is not censorship but rather civility that is being promoted.

    I want to second SODAs comment that at the event on July 30th I met a number of people who state that they regularly read the Vanguard but do not contribute to the conversation. As a member of the editorial board, I have heard this comment many times outside of this particular event. When asked why they do not choose to contribute the second most common comment ( the first being “lack of time”) is that they do not like the negative tone frequently found in the comments section. This is for me a shame because from their point of view, it is the nasty tone that is causing them to self censor because of fear of attack. Now you may think, “so what if they are too afraid to post ?” But for me more participants means a much richer and fuller conversation and it is in our conversation ( not in keeping our ideas to ourselves) that our power lies.
    I feel that keeping down the level of the invective would be a small price to pay for encouraging more people to participate with their ideas.

  6. Anon

    But does not the Vanguard invite invective? It thrives on pungent controversy, then insists that only “reasonable” people should be chosen to lead any discussion on economic development. Who exactly decides who is “reasonable”, the Vanguard that invites nasty comments? The Vanguard cannot have it both ways.

    1. Davis Progressive

      the vanguard was a much cleaner comment area than the enterprise in the last campaign. it seems like you’re a few years out of date in your criticism. it seems like don shor and the editorial board have worked hard to clean this place up.

      1. Tia Will

        DP

        And are continuing to do so. It is a matter of ongoing concern as witnessed by the comments to Soda and myself independently at the July 30th event.

      2. Matt Williams

        I concur DP, but also believe that the Vanguard commenters deserve a whole lot of credit too. There was a time when some of today’s Vanguard voices (mine included) were more strident. The passions are still there, but the dialogue is “cleaner.”

    2. Matt Williams

      Anon, the choice of the word “reasonable” is yours and yours alone. Nowhere in David’s article does the word “reasonable” occur.

      Democracy invites invective. Tha American political system trives on pungent controversy. Does that make either democracy or the American political system bad?

      You say that the Vanguard “invites nasty comments.” How does it “invite” those comments?

      I agree with you that nasty comments periodically do appear in the vanguard’s comments section. Is there a pattern to those nasty comments? Some come from the far Right. Some come from the far Left. Some come from the middle. They come from all sorts of different places, and on different topics. There isn’t a set pattern of issues that enflame the passions of vanguard readers. Don Shor gets enflamed about Mace 391. Frankly and Mark West also get enflamed about Mace 391. However, they are on opposite sides of that issue. Do you propose that the Vanguard act as referee between Don, Frankly and Mark? Elaine Roberts Musser and Don Shor were passionate about the surface water project in 2012 (probably still are) and Mike Harrington and others were passionate about it too. But again, the passions were on opposite sides of the issue. Are you saying that the Vanguard should referee?

      What the Vanguard does is provide a forum where those competing thoughts and beliefs can be aired … a forum where sometimes a collaborative consensus is formed where none existed before.

      At its heart the vanguard is a dialogue space. Thank you for your contributions to that dialogue. They are part of the fabric of the community we live in.

  7. Frankly

    Introspection and self-identification of destructive emotions is the most difficult of human challenges. Just about everything in one’s life can be directly attributed to behaviors and decisiions contained in the “feeling over thinking” tendency that all humans are both blessed and cursed with.

    What the VG is failing to consider here is that those people that have directly challenged the absurdity of the positions of the peoople controlling the status quo are the ones that are largely responsible for the breakthroughs in acceptance for change. You can lament their approach and worry about the ongoing impacts to the process, but without them we would not be where we are today. The VG has provided a new forumm for the exchange of ideas annd has given more power to the voices challenging the status quo… but the content did not write itself.

    I submit that significant change is impossible while attempting to prevent so many peoople from feeling bad about it. You have to attack enemies of change head on, and recongize that most will hate you for it forever even as you prove them wrong. Objectivity is a farce except for those that have developed emotional intelligence , humiluty and honesty to successful filter out their internal noise and make decisions based on pure logic and fact. I think most people arre underddeveloped in this including myself. There is always room to grow in understanding our destructive emotional capacity.

    Now , those that ramrod significant change that truly and materially damages others without the backing of facts and honesty… well let’s just say that hell has a special place waiting for them.

    The key is facts and honesty. Everything else is secondary.

    1. Davis Progressive

      do you think people being called “nimby’s” or “no on everything” are likely to come around to your thinking? do you think that citizens reading these attacks are likely to be turned off with the polarism? do you think polarizing the electorate is a good way to get public policy approved? (look no further than the stalemate in congress for that answer). so i think you – yes you personally – are a big barrier to getting this stuff to a consensus point.

      1. Frankly

        I think a consensus point is not achievable. You are a prime example. You have used plenty of hyperbole and inflammatory rhetoric in opposition to peripheral development. So has Tia and a number of others. Mike Harrington and crew are not going to “play nice’ as you claim to desire.

        And one more thing…

        We are really only talking about the difference between being directly aggressive on ideas and passively aggressive. And the directly aggressive approach that I see is focus specifically on the problem at hand, instead of the typical end around to demonize a class or group to try and discredit their voice.

        Think about this article and your comments. That is exactly what you are doing again.

        There is a great difference between being personally attacked versus taking something personally. My sense that the people that feel personally attacked by the term NIMBY are most likely feeling guilty that they are in fact guilty of it.

    2. Tia Will

      Frankly

      “You can lament their approach and worry about the ongoing impacts to the process, but without them we would not be where we are today.”

      “I submit that significant change is impossible while attempting to prevent so many peoople from feeling bad about it. You have to attack enemies of change head on, and recongize that most will hate you for it forever even as you prove them wrong.”

      I do not believe that either of these statements are accurate. I have many times seen others, and I myself have many times changed my position on a controversial issue without either side “attacking” the other. We have made monumental changes in how we define our careers, our compensation, our model of health care delivery in the system in which I work all without episodes of name calling or dehumanization. I from your frequent posts that you believe that confrontation, conflict and competition are the major drivers of change. My experience has taught me that a collaborative model works much more efficiently. This is from direct experience, not wishful thinking.

  8. Tia Will

    Frankly

    “So has Tia”

    Please point to specific examples of my “inflammatory rhetoric” especially as involves attacks on individuals as opposed to their ideas. I will be happy to consider and apologize if I agree that I wrote imprudently.

  9. Tia Will

    Frankly

    “Mike Harrington and crew are not going to “play nice’ as you claim to desire.”

    If this statement is true, my position would be to urge them, just like everyone else to “play nice”, not to through up our hands and say “OK, let’s just let everyone devolve to the lowest level of communication”.
    You frequently vaunt the importance of personal responsibility and I agree. I think that it should apply to how we individually choose to express our opinion.

  10. Tia Will

    Frankly

    “There is a great difference between being personally attacked versus taking something personally”

    I agree. And I believe that the only interpretation of calling people animals and lesions on the human body can only be interpreted as the former. If you disagree, I would love to hear your rationale.

      1. Tia Will

        Framlly

        I will not go back and point out specific names since that got me a very nasty direct communication by email from one of the posters with whom I had previously chosen to discuss issues off line. However, I will direct you to a not so distant article dealing with the homeless ( fortunately Don hard pulled the reference to humans as animals but a comment from him can still be found ) and a more recent post referencing city workers as a particular form of skin lesion. Sorry that I will not be more explicit, , but one private communication was deeply troubling to me. It was not threatening but I could imagine it going south had I chosen not to disengage.

        1. Frankly

          There is a line of common decency that some people cross. Can we define a common line, or is everyone’s line different? And if everyone’s line is different, who gets to choose the line? And if that chooser is highly sensitive or else highly acerbic, I think conversation will drop off due to lack of participation.

          Seems to me that there should be a pretty wide path with intolerance for extremes on both sides.

          1. Barack Palin

            Good points Frankly, and there’s people who let their own political biases determine where they think that line should be.

  11. Mr. Toad

    The idea that speaking out what I believe to be the truth David believes is counter productive doesn’t bother me at all. What bothers me is all the racism and bigotry that is tolerated here. Its why I wasn’t there the other night. This has been going on for a long time. Posts and recently articles advocating coercive sterilization of young women with poverty as a euphemism for race, xenophobia, demands that posts be in english and arguments about racial superiority to name a few concepts that come to mind are usually tolerated here. Crime is often used as a proxy for class and goes unchallenged and unchecked particularly as it relates to growth.

    I have a friend who stopped posting several years ago when a racist remark was left up while his objection was taken down. If this site wanted to improve the discourse it would get a new moderator, one who understands the dog whistle of racism.

    1. Frankly

      Too bad that reader bailed instead of getting involved helping everyone better understand his perspective.

      Don’t attribute to malice what should be attributed to ignorance.

    2. Mark West

      I do not think you can be an effective moderator of a forum where you are also a high frequency and highly opinionated commentator, as the two roles are often contradictory. Some sites restrict how frequently their moderators are allowed to contribute to a topic for this very reason.

      The Vanguard has evolved a great deal over the years, mostly for the better, with a fairly dramatic change in the past 12 months. One thing that has not changed for the better however is the high frequency posting rate of the moderator, and when that is combined with the fairly new phenomenon of excessive posts from members of the Editorial Board, it appears to become a coordinated effort to monopolize and control the discussion along certain lines. If that trend continues, more and more voices will leave the conversation in disgust, and that ultimately is what will destroy the value of what David has built here.

      1. Matt Williams

        “when that is combined with the fairly new phenomenon of excessive posts from members of the Editorial Board”

        Interesting comment Mark. I will certainly plead guilty with respect to water issues, but I wouldn’t characterize that as a fairly new phenomenon. Tia (and here alter ego Medwoman) has been sparring with Frankly for quite a while … hardly a fairly new phenomenon. Am I missing something? Where is the trend?

        1. Mark West

          I would expect a comment from Frankly to elicit a response from ‘anti-Frankly,’ but the current 3 or 4 to 1 ratio is more than excessive. More to the point Matt, look at the past 2 or 3 weeks of conversation and total up the percentage of comments made by you, Don and Tia combined. If that number is greater than 5-10% I would argue that the three of you are commenting too much. I expect the number to be much greater. As I write this there are 35 comments on this topic, 18 of which were written by one of the three of you (for the math challenged, that is > 50%).

          1. Matt Williams

            Criticism heard and accepted. Ironically in this particular thread there is very little evidence of “a coordinated effort to monopolize and control the discussion along certain lines” given that two of the three people who you are singling out are in total disagreement with one another.

            Anon’s initial comment did spark an interesting discussion about why the Vanguard even exists.

          2. Mark West

            Matt, it is the vast number of comments that I think shows the intent to control the debate. Even when you are debating each other, you are excluding other voices since no one else can seem to get a word in edgewise.

            It is when those high volume posts are repetitive, adding nothing new to the conversation and only restating a well known position, that it becomes apparent that only ‘appropriate’ opinions will be tolerated (even when the three of you don’t agree on what is appropriate).

    3. Tia Will

      Mr. Toad

      “Posts and recently articles advocating coercive sterilization of young women with poverty”

      Please reference any articles or posts that have advocated “coercive sterilization”.

    4. David Greenwald

      “What bothers me is all the racism and bigotry that is tolerated here. ”

      That comments reminds me of the joke, “We will not tolerate intolerance.” I think it’s best to put issues into the open and debate and even condemn them rather than hide them away. I disagree that they are tolerated here, my only problem is that people’s inclination when they see an opinion that they disagree with strongly is either to devolve into name calling or to run away. That doesn’t address the issue.

  12. Anon

    So having “listened” to the dialogue on this op-ed – it is conceded the Vanguard has fostered negative personal attacks even to this day, its own editorial board members are misrepresenting what others have said, at the same time the Vanguard calls for only non-polarizing figures to lead the economic development discussion. IMO that is a very hypocritical stance, with an eye towards having one’s cake and eating it too. It is not “reasonable” to foster the very polarizing elements it deems are not “unifying” the conversation about economic development.

    1. Matt Williams

      That is an interesting “take” on the dialogue Anon. How has the Vanguard “encouraged or promoted the development of” (the definition of “fostered”) negative personal attacks? You appear to be holding Don Shor (the Vanguard’s moderator) up to ridicule for failing to do his job as moderator, and then in your very next point you abandon that ridicule and accept his statement of “misrepresentation” whole cloth. I personally think that Don does a very solid job of keeping negative personal attacks in check. Unless comments are eliminated altogether the risk of a commenter straying into the realm of a negative personal attack is always going to be there. You yourself have strayed into the realm of negative personal attack on an occasion or two.

      It is easy to make an apples to apples evaluation of the job that the Vanguard does in its moderation (thank you Don). All you have to do is compare the comments on the Vanguard to the comments on the Enterprise during 2014. There is a clear pattern. During VolleyballGate the comments on the Enterprise were much more vitriolic. That vitriol carried over into the Council election cycle with Sheila Allen absorbing an immense volume of negative personal attacks on the Enterprise, while at the same time here in the Vanguard the dialogue from the people who opposed Sheila’s candidacy for the most part focused on the reasons why the commenter wasn’t going to vote for Sheila rather than getting personal the way the comments did on the Enterprise.

      Your final sentence reuses the word “foster” pejoratively with respect to the Vanguard. But in this case there is a glimer of light at the end of that pejorative tunnel, because the Vanguard does indeed encourage and promote the development of a come-one, come-all, open dialogue about the issues our community faces.

    2. Frankly

      Agree Anon. I get the point being made here; but it is a bit myopic.

      This all sort of fits the current political correctness gone wild time.

      There are certainly less sharp and less cutting ways to say some things, but in other cases complying with PC rules means some will just stop talking to others more hypersensitive. Isn’t there a need for tolerance as well as sensitivity?

      1. Anon

        Actually, in some ways I think my main point was lost, which is entirely my fault for not making myself clearer. I have no problem with the Vanguard’s open forum concept, nor do I particularly care whether it allows for negative comments or thoroughly vetting issues. Don Shor does an excellent job as moderator, walking that fine line between allowing the free exchange of ideas and censorship. What I find offensive is the Vanguard’s presumptive attitude that only certain “non-polarizing figures” should be allowed to lead the economic development discussion, insinuating that it knows best who those “leaders” should be. Yet the Vanguard itself fosters very ugly and polarizing exchanges. That is what I meant by having one’s cake and eating it too. Hopefully I have made my point more understandable.

  13. Tia Will

    Frankly

    “Isn’t there a need for tolerance as well as sensitivity?”

    Absolutely agree with the need for both. I will without comment take the good with the bad. I don’t have much problem with NIMBY, or slow growther. My line is at de-humanization. It would be interesting to see where others draw their line. Any takers ?

      1. Anon

        It was meant to – that is the Vanguard’s stock in trade. As in all things, it has its place. But when it tries to say one thing but do another (do as I say, not as I do), that is where I personally have a problem with the Vanguard’s philosophy.

        1. Matt Williams

          Anon, I haven’t talked to david today, but I suspect that if asked he would say that the comments in this article have gone in a very different direction than he expected and/or intended. The comments have focused on why the Vanguard exists rather than on the community dialogue about economic development.

          Out of curiosity do you see David as a polarizing influence on the community?

          1. Skip Harrison

            Matt Williams

            “Out of curiosity do you see David as a polarizing influence on the community?”

            I’m not Anon, but yes I think David is polarizing. To his credit I don’t think he means to be in a bad way but in a way to energize the community to be more involved in the issues that face us.

            I read the Vanguard daily but hardly ever comment because I find it tiring replying to people that disagree with you. For me that is monumental because I hardly ever agree with David and the many people that seem to never disagree with him. Some posters cannot seem to let any comment ride without putting their two cents worth back in like an irritated bulldog.

            Some posters write about what David thinks, what David feels, what David meant, often times under a pseudonym. How do they know that?The headlines to the stories are often misleading as to what the body of the story lays out.

            With all that said, I think The Vanguard is a valuable asset to the community. I will continue to read but comment infrequently. I would like to see David get over his constant deriding of Bob Dunning and continue the improvement in his stories and the considerably better writing quality over the old Blogspot(?) days (thank you Highbeam), and Don Shor has a thankless job.

          2. David Greenwald

            Skip Harrison is the type of person we should be working to get on these sites commenting. The fact that the environment is not conducive to that is troubling to me and the editorial board and I will be taking up this issue when we meet on Wednesday.

  14. David Greenwald

    Fascinating read. When I wrote this, I was expecting to see a continued discussion over the issue of economic development not the Vanguard – which I think illustrates the point that Matt was trying to make.

    ” What I find offensive is the Vanguard’s presumptive attitude that only certain “non-polarizing figures” should be allowed to lead the economic development discussion, insinuating that it knows best who those “leaders” should be. ”

    That really wasn’t the point I was attempting to make either. My concern in moving forward on economic development is that I’m starting to really see four distinct groups in the community. First a group that will oppose any project on principle and will destroy our community if we develop. Second a group that believes we will destroy our community if we don’t develop economically. Third, two more moderate groups in the middle – one that is leaning toward supporting a good project and one that needs to be convinced that this will not destroy our community.

    I worry about the polarizing labels and the ability for those labels to divide the community and turn the middle groups away from engagement and potential support for these projects.

    That’s a far cry from what Anon states that I believe only certain types of non-polarizing figures should be allowed to lead. However, if you have a bipartisan bill in congress and you want to pull in middle types, you don’t ask polarizing national figures to come to key districts to make the pitch – that’s not smart politics.

    In a way, I’m stating the obvious but getting criticized for it.

  15. David Greenwald

    Final point that should be made. Don Shor is a volunteer. At a point in time when this site was far more contentious and nasty than it is now, I asked Don to be moderator. In order to keep his independence, when we formed the editorial board in the Spring of 2012, I never asked him to join.

    Given the nature of this site and the shear amount of work I do, I needed the peace of mind to know that on those days when I can’t get to the comment section, that things won’t fall apart.

    While I don’t agree with Don on the issues at times, and don’t always agree with his moderating decisions, we handle that stuff privately and tweak things as needed.

    Those of you who have been around since 2009 or even 2006 know that the atmosphere here is much much better. I think Don Shor has overall done an outstanding job in a very tough role. And until the Vanguard has the money to hire someone, I don’t know anyone else who could even take this on.

    But we are also as an editorial board always looking for improvement and getting feedback like this, though unintended, is like striking gold, so rest assured this will all be discussed far more than anyone will know.

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