Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Anonymously yours

Why do I allow anonymous postings on this blog? It’s a question that comes up from time to time.

1)      If I “allowed” only posts from people who identify themselves, it would be nearly impossible to ensure that the identities are genuine. So, from a practical standpoint, it’s not doable and, besides, it would put a chokehold on the number of blog participants.

2)      Anonymous posters often bring information to a discussion that would otherwise never see the light of day.

The tone of the conversations does get more aggressive when people post anonymously. No question about that. Just keep in mind that it’s a two-way street. As an anonymous poster, one tends to go after other posters and public personalities in a no-holds-barred way. That’s fine, but if I respond to you in an equally aggressive manner, don’t act like you’re insulted, embarrassed, or that you have your feelings hurt. What’s good for the goose…

I also am criticized from time to time about even running a blog as an elected official. I’m told that, as a state rep, I should never inject myself into local issues (pay-as-you-throw is a perfect example). I might make someone mad and lose a vote. Two points come to mind when I hear these arguments:

1)      I am intensely interested in local issues, whether or not they are linked to my service as a state representative. As a former selectman, am I supposed to turn away from the issues that drew me into the political arena in the first place? For better or worse, you’ll see me continuing to comment on local issues, offer advice to our local boards, attend town meetings, and hold signs for candidates who I believe in.

2)      It is key for me to stay connected with people in my district. This blog is a part of that. Can the blog be used by a potential opponent to dig up things that might help them in a race against me? Sure. But, for me, the position of state rep does not define who I am. I work very hard at the job. I love handling constituent issues. At the same time, I see myself as a husband, dad, accountant, small business owner, musician, amateur humorist—not as a Beacon Hill politician. Whether or not my approach to being a state rep is a good one will be borne out at the polls on the first Tuesday in November next year.

So now I invite all of the anonymous posters to take me on, but don’t get your dander fluffed up when I come right back at you.

33 comments:

  1. From this reader's perspective, the problem isn't that the commentary is anonymous -- I think anonymous commentary can be useful and interesting -- but that so many comments are by "Anonymous." It becomes hard to follow which anonymous person is saying what. Folks, you can stay anonymous but pick a designation to distinguish your posts... use a nonsense name, or just a letter, whatever you like. You don't have to use the same one every time. Beneath the comment box, under "comment as," choose "Name/URL" and type whatever you want in there.

    That said, I wholly discredit anonymous commentary that just spreads innuendo or tries to rile people up, making mountains of molehills, etc.

    Finally, Randy, as a fellow civic-minded person, I'm delighted that you have this blog and maintain it since your election despite criticism by those who'd have you ditch it in favor of politically-motivated blandness. Thank you.

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  2. Rufus: Well said. And nice moniker.

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  3. As someone who has tried all three methods of participation in this blog, name, made up title, and anon, anon draws the least unkind and disturbing fire. While, I think the blog is useful, who needs rude people taking pot shots. There is enough challenge in everyday life.

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  5. Here are some more posts from an anonymous poster. Waste Zero isn't even a local company making money from the taxpayers of Sandwich OR the Town of Sandwich. Waste Zeros' headquarers are in Hemmingway, South Carolina. A FACT from an anonymous poster. Retailers selling these inferior bags are asking to be paid for them in cash because if you use a credit card to purchase them the retailer will be punished further financially with credit card percentage charges. Another FACT from an anonymous poster. Let's say PAYT is ended at Town Meeting through a peoples petition which is quite likely because I didn't have a chance to VOTE on such a significant change to a town department, will the retailers literally holding the leftover bags will they be reimbursed for their purchase? NO, another FACT from an anonymous poster. Quit ranking on anonymous posters and do some homework. More often than not anonymous postings have far far more insight than the armchair taxpayer thinking a town governments actions are just A OK! think again

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  6. To anonymous 5:57. I am not sure if anyone in this Town will go for a citizens petition on the next Town Meeting. If that happens, I am not sure what will be done. I for one did not like the way it was done and it was a rather sloppy start with the screwed up bags and insufficient weigh-in from the people, ya know, the people that pay the freight so to speak.

    The Selectmen under the MGL have a right to do what they want, but further investigation, not done by some, or at least not reported on the blog, would show that several towns have fought and won the battle, some have fought and lost the battle, but at least through that petition they got to speak, that is speak more than what we could have done.

    In the end, the Selectmen meant well, it is better for the taxpayers, the Town and once the blog thread is dead, we will all go on our way. We can use the money that would have been available for other things for which the town is wanting.

    Just sign me off

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  11. Jim in response to Mr. JohansenJuly 20, 2011 at 8:49 PM

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  14. I've decided you two need to exchange email addresses.

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  15. Mr. Hunt does it surprise me that you would not allow my post but allow the poster at 12:17? Not at all. You have supported him as he has supported you. You started this thread and then allowed him to continue his misinformation about certain members on last year’s school committee. I guess it is not a good idea to support those individuals that provided the courage and leadership to bring in Dr. Canfield. Interestingly, last year you let this type of banter go on, now you don’t. I would guess someone else needs to clarify their position.

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  16. hoping all can move onJuly 22, 2011 at 8:14 PM

    Last year was a mess. There was little courage or leadership involved in my opinion. Just one mistake after another and I suppose it actually started a couple of years ago. People will be debating this for years to come unless Dr. Canfield can work miracles. Which of course is possible. While there is relief we are past the insanity, the damage has been done and healing is needed. Best to get there without trying to blame. I would say there is plenty of blame to go around. I just hope there are no grudges that will stir things up. Actually let's keep the grudges on the blogs. That would work out best for everyone.

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  17. To 8:14, The dysfunction last year was caused by three members of the School Committee who gave their unwavering support for our previous superintendent. That was by design. They succeeded in making sure a dedicated, hardworking and courageous member on that committee did not get re-elected. You obviously supported their tactics which did nothing to enhance this district or this town. I will agree with you on one thing, last year was not a very proud moment in our town’s history, but let’s keep the record straight; four individuals had the courage and conviction do what was right and bring in Dr. Canfield. Three members were more concerned with protecting an individual that went against her contract, harassed and retaliated against an employee, tried to embarrass certain school committee members, was out for headlines in the paper, and it sounds like she wants to leave the taxpayers with her bills. How could you blindly support such a person?

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  18. @July 23, 20111 2:52 PM. You did a fine job in telling it as it was. The only thing I might add is that should any of the current majority run again, then they will have to remember their words because I will.

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  19. Dr. Canfield has been here almost a month, and isn’t it interesting how certain members of this community have not welcomed Dr. Canfield as one would think would be commensurate with his position? Overall, the Board of Selectmen gave him a lukewarm welcome. The Chairman of the Board of Selectmen was very welcoming, the Vice Chairman made some comments, but what was telling was that all the other members but one were silent on Dr. Canfield’s appearance at the meeting. One of the remaining members did welcome Dr. Canfield, but given this person’s relationship with the previous Superintendent, it did not seem very sincere in my opinion. Why two other members chose to remain silent, one can only speculate. Just like the silence from the person who controls this blog. Why has he not welcomed our new Superintendent with a thread of positive messages or suggestions? And let’s not forget the Cape Cod Times. Our local reporter must think Dr. Canfield is not worthy of a story because this Superintendent seems to concentrate on the kids, the district and the administrators, without looking for headlines for himself.

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  20. Even before meeting Dr. Canfield, I welcomed him as School Superintendent. Now, having had the opportunity to talk with him about substantive issues, I am convinced he has "hands on" experience in areas relevent to Sandwich. More importantly he seems to have an open mind and a willingness to listen. I look forward to working with Dr. Canfield to the benefit of Sandwich in general and especially our school children.

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  21. Mr. Pierce, there are many more people who wathc the BOS meetings than read this blog. You should have said at the meeting what you wrote on this blog in your last posting.

    I also recommend that instead of getting in to bed, so to speak, with the SC, you should watch the meetings on cable. There is no reason for two of you to attend most of their meetings. They are a different board.

    Also, what about Greg, oh I forgot, he is on sabbatical, or Mr. Johansen or the turthteller and others, not saying anything. Are they waiting to pounce?

    Dr. Canfield is dedicated to education not to headlines, he cares for the kids not himslef.

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  22. Silly that someone now has it out for the selectmen and is trying to start something. I saw the meeting, really? As for two selectman attending the meeting. I saw recently that 4 selectman were there. One selectman has been an advocate for the school for years. Could we please move on.

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  23. I am sorry I did not make myself clear. Yes, all five of the Selectmen do back the schools. I know them all, I speak to them all, they all want the best for the schools.

    I feel that the Selectmen do not need to be at all school meetings. When they do, they tend to become too close and tend to lose their objectivity in my opinion.

    Why is it that we must move on. This back and forth just started. My comment has nothin' to do with the present or past Superintendent or SC. I also don't think other boards need to talk to other boards, they need to work and do their job.

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  24. Piers, thank you for asking. Had a wonderful weekend out on Vineyard Sound...the bluefish love to jump onto your hook. You should try it! It is very relaxing... but I do realize that these beautiful fish have very sharp teeth. They bite! I guess, one could say they remind me of your latest rantings. Do you really care about the school committee or is it just the pot that you love to stir so much! Do something positive for the schools. Volunteer to work the lunch room or collect money for the parking lots during the fair. Give something meaningful..not just your heated rhetoric. And Piers...how would you know that any of us hasn't shaken the hand of the new Super? Thanks for listenin....back to my fishing rod I go! Hugs to everyone else on this blog who truly care about Sandwich!

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  25. To 11:42 AM… This has not just started; it has been going on for some time. At least two members of the Board of Selectmen were, and still are, unabashed supporters of the previous Superintendent. One even was part of a committee to try influence the direction of the previous school committee. This person was also part of a petition that was started to create an atmosphere to make it difficult for certain members of the previous school committee. These school committee members voted their conscience and that produced Dr. Canfield. Did you ever once hear any member of the Board of Selectmen having an issue with our previous Superintendent when it was reported that she not only harassed an employee, but retaliated against this individual? I didn’t, but you did hear the previous Board of Selectmen, along with some of the current Board members having issues with the previous School Committee that had the courage and conviction to do the right thing and bring in Dr. Canfield. Obviously this is something that they did not fully support, and I believe their true allegiance showed when Dr. Canfield was at the last Board of Selectmen’s meeting.

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  26. Wasn't the vote to hire Dr. Canfield unanimous? As for the BOS and Dr. Canfield, I think we need to give everyone a chance to work together. I like Piers know all the Selectman. I think it is fair to say that throughout the last year they did the best they could to wade through this stuff like everyone else but obviously they are concerned about the town. Frankly the news about the employee complaint was made known to all but one the same time the rest of the town found out about it.

    Clearly the best outcome is now before us. What is that old saying, "walk a mile in my shoes." I think people are too quick to judge. The SC members elected in 2010 came in late in the game as far as the stress in the schools was concerned. They did their job to the best of their ability based on their judgement of the situation. Some members have been treated harshly on blogs but that doesn't mean everyone who disagrees with them is involved in a conspiracy. People were divided. Frankly I think it had to to more with concern about the overall effect on the community, not about one person for a lot of people, especially the people who followed the story from the media. We all know Dr. Johnson had her faults. We all do.

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  27. To 8:06 PM… Could you clarify what you mean by, “Frankly the news about the employee complaint was made known to all but one the same time the rest of the town found out about it.” I read about it in the local papers, and the report in at least one local paper was pretty detailed about the findings of the harassment and retaliation issues.

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  28. There have been evenings when, as entertaining as they are, I have had to drag myself to School Committee or Finance Committee meetings. If you watch on cable you see the speaker or a visual aid they have on a screen. You miss the gestures and body language of those listening, or not, as the case may be. That can be more than half of context of the meeting. So, I plan to continue to attend as many meetings as I can.

    Shortly after Dr. Canfield was chosen I sent him a brief e-mail. It started with "Welcome to Sandwich." I used a couple sentence to introduce myself. A couple more sentences said how important it was that he succeeded. And, ended with a simple question, "How can I help?" That led to several e-mails in which I gave him my thoughts on various issues. Other than to shake hands, I did not meet one-on-one with Dr. Canfield until July 21. After spending about an hour and a half discussing the substance of those issues, I came away confident that he was here to work and that he was quickly getting a handle on his job. Only after that meeting did I feel qualified to comment as I did on this blog.

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  30. Mr. Hunt could you tell me why you censored my last post?

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  31. I don't mind if you put it online.

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  32. Anon7/25 8:06 PM. Haven't read the blog for some time but am catching up. I want to compliment you on your post. I agree completely and hope that people are given the chance to work together. I was at the SC meeting where a reception was hosted after the meeting for Dr. Canfield. I noticed several Selectman there and of course SC members. Everyone seemed relaxed and were clearly getting along. In fact there seemed to be a new air of positive energy that night. It has been sad to see the snipping get started again.

    Let people work together, find trusting relationships, and please give people space to do what they give up countless hours of their lives to do, which is help the community and take lots of heat. These folks, the Selectman and the SC get so little respect, I hope Sandwich helps itself. I hope all concerned start to play nicer in the sandbox. Let's learn from this past year, clear the air and get on with the challenges before us.

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