Are Those Domain Names In Your Pocket, Or Are You Just Glad To See Me?
Mother Calhoun is getting downright discouraged. She thought that through the years, people were actually paying attention to her Sage Advice For The Clueless. But clearly, nobody’s listening because there are people out there still Walking While Stupid.
I refer, of course, to the May 24th Bay News story, “Taxpayer’s Watch Decries Internet Skullduggery,” wherein we learn that back on Nov 29, 2005, CSD Interim Counsel John McClendon bought up several web addresses for $2.99 each. The web addresses he bought were variations on all things taxpayerswatch-ish, such as www.Taxpayerswatch.org and www.Taxpayerswatch.com and so forth. McClendon, no doubt with his tongue thoroughly set in his cheek, is quoted in the story as saying that he did his shopping “on his own time and paid the fees. He said he has nothing against the local Taxpayers Watch, but makes it a practice to pick up web addresses that may benefit future clients. He said there are Taxpayers Watch organizations in several communities. ‘I was depressed that night,’ he explained, ‘I went shopping and I’m Scottish. I’m cheap. I love a bargain.’”
So, what’s the problem here? People buy domain names all the time. No big deal, right? Well, to continue the Bay News story, “[McClendon] said he ‘parked’ the addresses to send people to the CSD site [instead]. He also indicated he was sorry that the CSD was being rapped’ for his actions.” In other words, when people typed in the domain names he owned, thinking they were going to the Taxpayerswatch site, they would be bounced over the official CSD site instead. Very funny?
Gee, you think?
Naturally, Joyce Albright, chairwoman for the local Taxpayers Watch group, jumped to the conclusion that this was all the responsibility of the CSD. Said she, “It’s just proof again of the methods of the current board. It’s duplicitous, underhanded and sneaky. I’m shocked at the low quality people they employ.” Which caused many people familiar with the published product and actions of Taxpayers Watch to roll their eyes and mutter, “Pots & Kettles, Pots & Kettles.”
Then, after being shocked – shocked – Joyce was quoted as saying that “As a result, the web address for Taxpayers Watch has been changed to: dissolvethelocalcad.org. Even though she was irked, Albright said the change did not cost them any money or cause them to do extra work. ‘I like the new one better,’ she said. ‘It says it all.’”
So, no harm, no foul? Really? Well, listen up everyone. Mother Calhoun will – once again – spell it out for you:
1. When you know a group of people have declared themselves to be your sworn enemy, hell-bent on destroying you utterly, and they have already proven to you that they have a shaky grasp on the difference between “fact” and Madison Avenue’s distorted version of Phony Phacts, and have no ethical compunction against employing such duplicitous, underhanded and sneaky tactics in all they do and say, you do not give them swords.
2. Perception IS reality. Public servants, working on the taxpayer’s dime, have a special duty to be like Casesar’s Wife: Not only do they have to be above suspicion, they must appear to be above suspicion.
3. Private citizens are free to lie, distort, play dirty tricks on one another and engage in other assorted japery. Public servants are not. I know. Unfair double standard. Tough. Deal with it.
On a happier note, the Bay News story did reveal, ta-DA- “According to documentation provided by McClendon, the Taxpayers Watch’s current Web site address – which he [McClendon] characterized as the ‘I’m still mad’ Web site – is owned by Michael Drake, the former CSD public information officer who was fired after the recall election.”
Yep, the same Mike who was quoted using the word “we” as in “WE’VE been waiting THIRTY YEARS for this sewer plant,” & etc. when, in truth, he’d only arrived in town a few months before. And, I’m not sure the word “fired” is exactly accurate. “Fired” almost always has negative connotations – i.e. that the person in question is incompetent or had been discovered engaging in some sort of skullduggery. Mike’s contract as Public Information Officer was specifically tied to the Tri-W sewer project. No project, no contract. No contract, no Mike. So, unless something was uncovered during the new CSD’s Board during closed session discussions, it may be fairer to say Mike’s contract was terminated rather than he was “fired.”
Of course, during his tenure, there were many complaints that Mike had crossed the line between Public Information and political advocacy during the recall campaign. But here he is again, working with Joyce Albright and [recalled board member] Gordon Hensley and other supporters, members and associates of Taxpayers Watch. Ah, the old gang, back together again! What could be better?
The only question left is this: Who’s writing the Phacts that appear on Mr. Drake’s Taxpayer’s Watch website?