When boosters want to foist a project on the public, they sometimes encounter opposition.

Rather than address the objections raised, they'll frequently dismiss any concerns as being the invention of "naysayers".

This convenient label allows them to ignore inconvenient truths, and the media frequently goes along with the game. Say a developer wants to scrape away historic buildings in the name of progress and profits. If the neighborhood cries foul, they can be bulldozed by just calling them naysayers or gadflies, and the alleged journalist smirks.

The resulting news story then details all the claims of the developer, reports the support of the development officials, and then obligingly notes that some naysayers objected.

This sort of fair and balanced coverage has distinguished San Diego's local media for decades. Only recently, with the advent of online news gathering organizations that can afford to take the time to properly investigate stories and follow up on the claims of "naysayers" have we found out that "gadflies" have a nose for things that stink.

Remember Bruce Henderson? How about Mel Shapiro, or Richard Rider? Ian Trowbridge, or Pat Flannery anyone?

Their contributions to the public good are immense, and all the more impressive in that none of them got paid for their efforts to expose the often uncomfortable truths about how our city is run. In fact, I would bet that each of them has lost money, time, and friends because of their efforts.

These "naysayers" are too often the only independent analysts in our town, and rather than dismiss what they say we ought to pay more attention. Sure, they're often enough incorrect, and sometimes overstate their case. But this is true of our city officials too.

Personally, I've been called all sorts of names over the years I've been involved in local issues. Jack McGrory called me an urban terrorist because I opposed the ballpork giveaway. Just this week, Jim Madaffer called me sickening for opposing the reappointment of CCDC board members who have been at the helm while Nancy Graham conducted her conflicts of interest.

I won't let the labels stop me. It's a sign of progress that they are frightened enough to attack me this way. It means we're getting closer to the truth of the matter.

If you're unhappy with the way the city is being run, I hope you'll join us naysayers at the next public meeting to give them a piece of your mind. You don't have to be eloquent, or well-dressed, or an expert on every issue that comes before the public. If you are concerned, you have the right to speak and be listened to.

You might be dismissed as a naysayer, but over time you'll regard this as a badge of honor.

Comments

a2zresource Sept. 5, 2008 @ 10:05 a.m.

While nobody is required to be an expert to speak as a member of the public, it sure helps to have done a little or even a lot of homework before stepping up to the mike.

It is amazing what lands in your lap if one is prepared to enter the right words into your favorite search engine, especially if one is familiar with the buzzwords and catchphrases of the foisters of possibly pin-headed projects on the people. (uh, no offense intended, Zippy...)

Having watched the Karate Kid more than once, I am reminded that if one wishes to confront, one either knows karate a lot, or one should avoid the attempt: nothing half way.

With that in mind, an intelligent person with (1) an internet connection, (2) some time on one's hands, and (3) slightly more ethics than any city employee who might have cheated on this in the last two years can "attend" the online Emergency Management Institute for certification in Comprehensive Emergency Management independent study (IS) topics.

Without going into the detail of how easy it is for ordinary US citizens to actually pass the exams and get certified in CEM, EMI's IS courses can give these same ordinary citizens the right kind of vocabulary that a "naysayer" can use to get the attention of a board or commission that would otherwise just rubber-stamp a development proposal without really looking at it.

One interesting course that no developer in her or his right mind wants any ordinary citizen to find out about is IS-253, "Coordinating Environmental and Historic Preservation Compliance" at http://training.fema.gov/EMIWeb/IS/is253.asp

It is troublesome for a developer to get bound up in an environmental impact report, but just watch them flee the room when it is exposed that a given project just might be a hazard that justifies a local emergency planning commission waking up to evaluating it as a potential threat to homeland security and disaster preparedness...

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a2zresource Sept. 5, 2008 @ 10:15 a.m.

Additional to #1:

Oh... and nobody actually has to enroll in an EMI course to simply download the study guides and get the information.

Enrollment is handled when an independent study student goes online to submit answers on the course final; until then, EMI doesn't really care who reads the study material on CEM and disaster preparedness.

On the other hand, taking the finals lets one cover the walls with official certificates that in some cases are actually worth college credits...

Did I mention IT'S FREE?


Mr. Williams, you may find EMI's Professional Development Series a useful thing for training future volunteer coordinators as a short Officer Candidate School for potential emergency managers...

http://training.fema.gov/IS/searchIS.asp?keywords=PDS

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Fred Williams Sept. 7, 2008 @ 7:48 a.m.

Thanks A2Z, great resources!

(...and call me Fred. Here at Abnormal Heights we're quite informal.)

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a2zresource Sept. 8, 2008 @ 9:42 a.m.

Your welcome, Fred.

As I see it, this city needs battalions of eyes watching all of our little boards, commissions, and other local legislative bodies that do the work we otherwise elected our councilmembers and state legislators to do... even though they don't.

We may provide a service to readers by pointing things in public out that make the smell-o-meter jump a few degrees, but the few of us who do our "afflict the comfortable" blogs while attempting to comfort the afflicted can only see so much.

A better service is to get many more of us doing the same thing.

It's is, after all, for the benefit of all of us to be an informed electorate...

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a2zresource Sept. 9, 2008 @ 2:10 p.m.

"What a shame that we cannot have better people on these boards..." Agreed... and there is still the need to have informed people in the public at large just to keep the board members honest.

After all, I was one of the vast majority in Southeast San Diego whose only contact with my local redevelopment agency was receiving those colorful postcards from Carolyn Smith's outfit every few months or so...

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Fred Williams Sept. 8, 2008 @ 11:58 a.m.

In today's VOSD, CCDC Board Member LeSar again called me a "nay sayer" for attempting to actually participate in their sham of a public input process.

What a shame that we cannot have better people on these boards...

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