By Henry Twombly, Sedona Resident
(February 23, 2017)
In response to the 2/22/17 SRRN editorial I sympathize with the critic of the SFD, who has “irreproachable credentials and experience” but who declined to serve on the bond advisory committee. Most likely he surmised that due to his “adversarial” perspective, he would be ignored and outvoted. This is the exact reason why my name is “conspicuously absent” from the list of candidates. In fact I did apply to be a member of the Budget Oversight Committee, but was rejected by City Hall mostly because of my fervent belief in a balanced budget.
So yes, I’m the other “resident who posted a winding rant against the bond and alleged SFD is somehow orchestrating a secret media campaign…” First it wasn’t “a winding rant;” it was a straightforward account detailed with quotes directly from SRRN articles. Secondly the media campaign is not very “secret” since it garnered front-page headlines in three SRRN issues in a row. Also if you believe “government entities have no personality nor ideology” (e.g., Obama vs. Trump), then you might believe that the advisory committee is not going to recommend a bond. But this is hard for me to believe, especially since the SFD is spending $25,000 to finalize its bond options. The question is not if there will be a bond; it is how much will it cost. Moreover “reasons for and against haven’t even been discussed” is just not true. SFD has presented its reasons “for,” and I have presented my reasons “against.” Another false statement is that I “demanded” that my readers do anything. I just pointed out the consequences of voting one way and then the other. Rather than be on a committee where no one hears me, I choose to be “in the backwaters of the internet,” where anyone can read me…
…Originally I was going to send this to the SRRN editor with the preface: Do you have the courage and integrity to publish a letter that contradicts one of your editorials? But I realized that this passive-aggressive way of being defensive and combative would only create unnecessary rancor, which surely would nullify my slim-to-none chance of getting this published. Moreover, I didn’t want to needlessly make my relationship with the editor any worse than it already is.
So I decided to put myself in his shoes in hopes that I could empathize and gain some insight into his perspective. I then imagined being the editor of a small, understaffed, local newspaper, whose owners/his employers have been shaping the past and now the future of Sedona. For decades the paper has been the mouthpiece of the pro-growth, pro-business vested interests. Consequently as the current editor, he must experience certain pressures from the top.
So I decided to reread the editorial. The first part is an objective recounting of facts about the SFD bond. He then decries that a very qualified, prospective applicant declined to serve on the advisory committee. His frustration over the residents’ lack of civic duty devolves into a subjective attack on me, in which he misrepresents what I wrote. I don’t really know, so I’m hypothesizing here that he was (un)consciously following the orders/inferences from the top to discredit me. Or this could just be my convoluted, cynical musing. Nevertheless his language then becomes more incendiary and condescending. I don’t hold this against him. Under pressure we all are likely to do or say something we wouldn’t normally do or say.
I believe the editor is a smart man, who wouldn’t normally write “government entities have no personality or ideology” or “reasons for and against haven’t been discussed.” He was just carried away by his own “rant.” At times we all get carried away by our opinions and beliefs. Differences of opinion and their varied expressions are what free speech and democracy are all about. So I commend the editor for wisely stating in this editorial, “adversarial voices are precisely what local governments need to make sure all the facets of a community are represented.”