Sunday, April 28, 2013

ZAP! #117: Spinning Boredom

ZAP! #117

    Hello, Irving League of Women Voters...1981 is calling!  Please pick up.

    We have some sad news to report.  Dylan, Executive Editor and Part-time Wordsmith for the CCR, is suffering from bleeding ears.  Sadly, he attempted to watch and listen to the entire Irving League of Women Voters city council and school board candidate forum last week.  (Warning: Viewer discretion is advised -- if you missed this program and plan to utilizing ICTN for re-run purposes -- to prevent unnecessary maladies of the ears, eyes and stomach.)

     After we reviewed the program on ICTN’s video-on-demand, the following conclusion seemed to leap across our keyboard when also scanning Dylan’s notes: Shouldn’t this event actually be renamed the Irving LOWV Candidate Pablum Spewing Contest?  Seriously, this is the 21st Century and the league seems anchored in the Dark Ages by conducting a “candidate forum” that allowed candidates to espouse everything except genuine answers or their actual/honest position on issues.  To state that candidates ‘straddled the fence’ on most responses gives a bad name to genuine fence straddlers.  

     What made this political rally something less than a candidate forum could be summarized by the following:

  • The questions were stilted, stale and had little bearing on change/progress that could/should be made by the city or school district candidates if elected.
  • Candidates didn’t or barely answered the questions asked due to sticking to their talking points; responses designed to please audience members; and candidates often failed to espouse their true position on issues.  And this is where the pablum spewing was at its apex.
  • The moderator (note: this term is used loosely) allowed all responses to pass as facts with no challenges made or assertions voiced that the question was properly answered.  Follow-up must not be a word in the LOWV guidelines when conducting a venue of this nature.
  • Questions were pulled together, condensed and finalized supposedly from information provided directly to the league.  The queries processed in this manner seemed to be anemic academic attempts to fashion intelligent sounding questions. 

     For those who feel that constructive criticisms should be followed by helpful or useful information, then the CCR would offer the following considerations for the Irving LOWV should they desire to conduct another candidate forum:

  • Have a forum for only one group at a time during the evening...not council and school board candidates together on the same evening.  Allow more time to delve into the issues that should be confronted and on voter’s minds.
  • Also, by having a single group for a forum the program will permit more time for detailed questioning and follow-up.
  • Have the Carrollton/Farmers Branch school board members conduct their forum in the northern part of the city where their tax-payer base resides.  The issues confronting C/FB are certainly different than those in the Irving ISD.
  • Return to the process of having audience members submit questions or ask them in person.  This will get to the heart of most issues better than esoteric questions developed by the league or those with little knowledge of city or school district proceedings.
  • Allow candidates to follow up on statements made by their opponent during the questioning period.  Candidates should not have a free pass to make obvious misstatements or provide incorrect facts without being challenged. 
  • Provide a moderator who will ensure that a valid effort was made by the candidates to answer the questions at hand.  In essence, a candidate should be able to answer the question in the first sentence of their remarks.  Anything that follows the first sentence is spin and feel good rhetoric designed to have audience members believe they are cognizant of the issues that define their race.

     Finally, the one good thing accomplished by the Irving LOWV with this feeble attempt of informing the voting public was to put a face with a candidate running for office.  Considering the forum attendance (paltry at the very least from our vantage point), it is doubtful that any minds were enlightened or changed.  And this is due to avid supporters or workers for the candidates being the primary ones in attendance.  Wouldn’t a coffee at a member’s home have served this same purpose?

     The only question remaining is: Who do I send Dylan’s medical bill to for him having to listen and watch this doggone political spin session that temporarily damaged his hearing?
………………..Mark Holbrook