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Thread: Wayland Voters Network (WVN) goes "off mission"

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    Default Wayland Voters Network (WVN) goes "off mission"

    The mission of the Wayland Voters Network is
    to ensure that Town of Wayland voters are informed about Town decisions that will directly affect them, and to encourage voter participation.

    Sadly, they've again chosen to go "off mission" in advocating for political candidates (I've extensively documented WVN's recently dormant but long history of transgressions here, beginning with the "fy04" link).

    Anyone reading their candidate "analysis" here can clearly detect WVN's bias. Mind you, I don't object to their having a bias--it's their denial of having a bias (implicit in their mission) that troubles me. They should either change their mission to include advocacy or clearly identify when they are offering editorial opinion (including advocating for candidates and issues).

    In WVN's most recent newsletter, they mislead with respect to political lawn signs, writing "Butler and Bladon signs were often paired ..." while making no mention of the equally frequent pairing of Kinney and Bustin signs. As I've written elsewhere, Butler-Bladon pairings were the exception rather than the rule, were no more frequent than Kinney-Bustin pairings, and were accompanied by Kinney-Bladon pairings.

    I took advantage of my drive to the Landfill to compile the following statistics on political lawn signs. I covered most of 126, 27, 20, 30, Old Connecticut Path, Moore Road, Rice Road, and Oak Street. I don't claim that this to be scientific, but it appears to undermine the "Bladon-Butler" myth: they relatively rarely occur together, and they occur with almost the exact same frequency as Kinney-Bustin signs.

    • Kinney signs alone: 42 (this includes 3 co-locations of Kinney and State Senate candidate Richard Ross)
    • Butler signs alone: 18 (this includes 3 co-locations of Butler and State Senate candidate Peter Smulowitz)
    • Bladon signs alone: 8
    • Bustin signs alone: 1
    • Bladon-Butler combinations: 6
    • Kinney-Bustin combinations: 6
    • Kinney-Bladon combinations: 3

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    The mission of the Wayland Voters Network is
    to ensure that Town of Wayland voters are informed about Town decisions that will directly affect them, and to encourage voter participation.

    Sadly, they've again chosen to go "off mission" in advocating for political candidates (I've extensively documented WVN's recently dormant but long history of transgressions here, beginning with the "fy04" link).

    Anyone reading their candidate "analysis" here can clearly detect WVN's bias. Mind you, I don't object to their having a bias--it's their denial of having a bias (implicit in their mission) that troubles me. They should either change their mission to include advocacy or clearly identify when they are offering editorial opinion (including advocating for candidates and issues).

    In WVN's most recent newsletter, they mislead with respect to political lawn signs, writing "Butler and Bladon signs were often paired ..." while making no mention of the equally frequent pairing of Kinney and Bustin signs. As I've written elsewhere, Butler-Bladon pairings were the exception rather than the rule, were no more frequent than Kinney-Bustin pairings, and were accompanied by Kinney-Bladon pairings.

    I took advantage of my drive to the Landfill to compile the following statistics on political lawn signs. I covered most of 126, 27, 20, 30, Old Connecticut Path, Moore Road, Rice Road, and Oak Street. I don't claim that this to be scientific, but it appears to undermine the "Bladon-Butler" myth: they relatively rarely occur together, and they occur with almost the exact same frequency as Kinney-Bustin signs.

    • Kinney signs alone: 42 (this includes 3 co-locations of Kinney and State Senate candidate Richard Ross)
    • Butler signs alone: 18 (this includes 3 co-locations of Butler and State Senate candidate Peter Smulowitz)
    • Bladon signs alone: 8
    • Bustin signs alone: 1
    • Bladon-Butler combinations: 6
    • Kinney-Bustin combinations: 6
    • Kinney-Bladon combinations: 3
    1. The above criticism of WVN, surprisingly, leaves out the opposite and obvious bias of this very site and its editorial board. Only, this site shows it biases more obviously. WVN, to my recollection, has never issued an endorsement of candidates to its readership. Meanwhile, this site has released endorsements via the DB every time we've had an election in the past few years. I guess all I can say about this is that to complain about bias in one news organization and not broadly criticize all such organizations is biased in and of itself. I would argure that while you claim bias from WVN its editorialized statement above, WVN's commentary stands much more as truth than bias. See the next point...

    2. The unscientifc study you post above conveniently leaves out most of the neighborhoods and side streets in North Wayland. On my drive to Claypit Hill over the last two days, I counted more than 20 Bladon/Butler signs combos, and 1 Kinney/Bladon combo. I went so far as to ask the homeowner who was outside at the time why it was there, and was told it was done that way to "throw off SOS folks into believing this was the supported combo." I also checked in on all the e-mails sent out by the SOS cadre and they all "endorsed" the very same Bladon/Butler combo. This site, with its obvious SOS bias, did the same as well.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Baron View Post
    1. The above criticism of WVN, surprisingly, leaves out the opposite and obvious bias of this very site and its editorial board. Only, this site shows it biases more obviously. WVN, to my recollection, has never issued an endorsement of candidates to its readership. Meanwhile, this site has released endorsements via the DB every time we've had an election in the past few years. I guess all I can say about this is that to complain about bias in one news organization and not broadly criticize all such organizations is biased in and of itself. I would argure that while you claim bias from WVN its editorialized statement above, WVN's commentary stands much more as truth than bias. See the next point...
    Jeff, you make inadvertently the point I would have made, but it comes through quite plainly in your note above. The "this very site" you refer to really is this open and public discussion forum. It is not WaylandeNews "proper" and it is not our newsletters, both venues in which we work dilligently to avoid any bias. (And we welcome suggestions/comments on anytime we might have failed, and always do our best to immediately make any corrections - such instances are few and far between, and often people complaining in the opposite direction of my own personal bias (as in, "Why did the Ross Meet and Greet get better placement than the Smulowitz one?")

    In this spot, we, in effect, encourage bias because this is where people are invited to submit their opinions. That invitation extends to ourselves as well, of course. If you are not interested in this sort of forum or debate, then don't visit here, and you can take advantage of the informational aspects of WaylandeNews only.

    MY OPINION (CLEARLY LABELED AS SUCH): In contrast, you cannot make this separation with WVN. Their newsletters, to which you cannot respond, are filled with the sort of bias Jeff points out above. And yet, these bits of "news" are rarely labeled with anything remotely as clear as "Editorial" or "Our Opinion". What is news, and what is opinion is a line that is consistently blurred. I am surprised that those who complain about "spin" don't find their heads confused and their tummies nauseous after going through the WVN twirly-ride each week.


    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Baron View Post
    2. The unscientifc study you post above conveniently leaves out most of the neighborhoods and side streets in North Wayland. On my drive to Claypit Hill over the last two days, I counted more than 20 Bladon/Butler signs combos, and 1 Kinney/Bladon combo. I went so far as to ask the homeowner who was outside at the time why it was there, and was told it was done that way to "throw off SOS folks into believing this was the supported combo." I also checked in on all the e-mails sent out by the SOS cadre and they all "endorsed" the very same Bladon/Butler combo. This site, with its obvious SOS bias, did the same as well.
    Jeff, I am amazed you got so many emails from the "SOS cadre" when I myself got exactly ZERO emails from any member of the SOS board. If by "SOS cadre", you mean something like "people who have generally been supportive of town services", then I expect you wouldn't be surprised to find that many of them would have supported John Bladon over Don Bustin. And by the way, people who have generally been supportive of town services have been the majority of the town in every recent election I can recall. So what exactly qualifies someone as a member of the "SOS cadre"?

    As for the Kinney-Butler race, I would say that Beth had very strong support from people who know her around town, from her church, from her volunteer efforts, from her history in town. Do people who know someone and have a positive opinion of them lose their right, in your mind, to support their candidate because they have worked with SOS in the past? Frankly, that's simply silly.

    As regards your anecdote with the homeowner, that's sounds like pretty bad sport from a Kinney supporter, don't you think? And, frankly, a little hard to believe. Are you really asking us to believe that someone who actually supported Don Bustin put up a Bladon sign? (Or, was it someone who, gasp!, actually supported both Kinney and Bladon? By the way, the vote count in town would certainly suggest there were plenty of such people...)
    Last edited by Kim Reichelt; 05-13-2010 at 07:25 AM. Reason: clarification (moved adverb "advertently" to clarify what it was modifying)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kim Reichelt View Post
    As regards your anecdote with the homeowner, that's sounds like pretty bad sport from a Kinney supporter, don't you think? And, frankly, a little hard to believe. Are you really asking us to believe that someone who actually supported Don Bustin put up a Bladon sign? (Or, was it someone who, gasp!, actually supported both Kinney and Bladon? By the way, the vote count in town would certainly suggest there were plenty of such people...)
    Running out, and wll try and respond to everythng else later (albeit I'm sure this conversation about SOS, biases, and the like will never result in much agreement). However, I don't think it is any more of a case of bad sportsmanship than the SOS folks having one of their supporters call Shawn in his office, posing as an "interested voter," asking specifically about one question and then quickly hanging up. As I mentioned in an earlier thread, campaigning is like making sausages -- you definitely don't want to see the process because it is pretty ugly. The ugliness is not restricted to any one side -- and to paraphrase someone else on these boards, I definitely have more experience on the receving end than most on this front. By the way, I really don't appreciate the insinuation that I made this up, Kim.

    On another note, I hold out much respect for how Mr. Bladon handled himself following is victory. See the artice in the Town Crier here (http://www.wickedlocal.com/wayland/f...-Town-Election) and note Mr. Bladon's comments. Also, note my comments at the bottom.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Baron View Post
    1. The above criticism of WVN, surprisingly, leaves out the opposite and obvious bias of this very site and its editorial board.
    Jeff, I've never seen Michael Short write an endorsement letter in the Crier for a candidate and then vote as part of an endorsement for the same candidate and against that candidates opponent. In fact, WVN doesn't do endorsements.

    I was one of the houses with a Kinney / Buston / Ross sign farm... I also have a YES on 15 too. Sometimes I take in stray cats.
    But I did notice a very large occurance of Bladon / Butler signs and especially in N.Wayland. However I didn't do a scientific counting study.

    If WVN went off mission it was no worse than the paradoxical Hecker support for Butler with Hecker getting to vote on enews for Butler.

    Kim asked for suggestions going forward...
    Here is one.
    Any board member of enews who gets to vote for an endorsement at the end of the day should take the high road and forgo writing letters to the editor about candiates.
    Here is another...
    If enews is going to ask candiates to answer a slew of questions then the enews board should use the answers to those questions as a major part of their endorsement decision... from what I see, Kinney could have been Ghandi and would not have been endorsed because Ghandi wasn't a lawyer.
    Here is one more...
    Whatever questions you do use... make sure at least 50% of them come from the candidates themselves with the other 50% coming from enews members who have been ample time to provide them to you.

    That way enews can better stay on mission too.
    Last edited by AlanJReiss; 05-12-2010 at 08:54 AM. Reason: Clean up after the stray cats...

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    Quote Originally Posted by AlanJReiss View Post
    Jeff, I've never seen Michael Short write an endorsement letter in the Crier for a candidate and then vote as part of an endorsement for the same candidate and against that candidates opponent. In fact, WVN doesn't do endorsements.
    Not explicitly. But did you have any doubt who the WVN cadre supported after reading their newsletter comparing the candidates? If you didn't have any doubt, then you might say that was an endorsement. But more insidious, because it was not labeled as such.

    Quote Originally Posted by AlanJReiss View Post
    I was one of the houses with a Kinney / Buston / Ross sign farm... I also have a YES on 15 too. Sometimes I take in stray cats.
    But I did notice a very large occurance of Bladon / Butler signs and especially in N.Wayland. However I didn't do a scientific counting study.
    Yes, this was hard to miss!

    Personally, I'd love to see all the candidates agree to swear off the signage altogether. The only positives in it I see is that the signs are a visible display of the spirit of democracy, and a reminder to vote. I did like the "VOTE TODAY" notes that were added onto the Kinney signs on Tuesday morning.

    So, no offense intended here, Alan, but am I the only one who hates these lawn signs? I mean, they strike me actually as more divisive than all this other stuff. The people next door to you might want to display another opinion, but be scared off not wanting to offend you... And the visual pollution aspect - they aren't pretty. I don't know... just makes me glad to live on a traffic-less side-street where nobody would be willing to waste placement of a lawn sign.


    Quote Originally Posted by AlanJReiss View Post
    If WVN went off mission it was no worse than the paradoxical Hecker support for Butler with Hecker getting to vote on enews for Butler.
    I appreciate that opinion.

    Quote Originally Posted by AlanJReiss View Post

    Kim asked for suggestions going forward...
    Here is one.
    Any board member of enews who gets to vote for an endorsement at the end of the day should take the high road and forgo writing letters to the editor about candiates.
    Here is another...
    If enews is going to ask candiates to answer a slew of questions then the enews board should use the answers to those questions as a major part of their endorsement decision... from what I see, Kinney could have been Ghandi and would not have been endorsed because Ghandi wasn't a lawyer.
    Here is one more...
    Whatever questions you do use... make sure at least 50% of them come from the candidates themselves with the other 50% coming from enews members who have been ample time to provide them to you.

    That way enews can better stay on mission too.
    Thank you for the suggestions. We will have a better process next year. I certainly did intend to canvass the candidates and the readers for suggestions (I did get many unsolicited suggested, though I should have solicited them explicitly -- we did last year, and just ran out of time this year). We will do that next year. That said, did you have any issue with the set of questions? I thought they were broad and fair, and if anything perhaps favored Mr. Bustin and Mr. Kinney. I'm sure you appreciated the questions, for example, on menu overrides and on Mr. Kinney's warrant article.

    We will also ensure that there is more time for responses (though 11 days plus offered extensions should have been plenty in a relatively short campaign season), and that incentives are set such that responses will not be late.

    I'm not sure what Gandhi's positions would have been on public education, but I suspect he would have had my support!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Baron View Post
    1. The above criticism of WVN, surprisingly, leaves out the opposite and obvious bias of this very site and its editorial board. Only, this site shows it biases more obviously.
    1. WaylandeNews.com doesn't include opinion pieces. To my knowledge, they link to every Wayland news item about which they are aware. I've yet to hear anyone cite an instance of WEN being biased.
    2. The WEN Discussion Forum (a separate entity) is not biased. It is a platform. Biases appear in the form of its contributions.
    3. The only time that I'm aware of that WEN offers opinions is when it makes endorsements. And they make those obviously, as you note, which supports my point about WVN.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Baron View Post
    2. The unscientifc study you post above conveniently leaves out most of the neighborhoods and side streets in North Wayland. On my drive to Claypit Hill over the last two days, I counted more than 20 Bladon/Butler signs combos, and 1 Kinney/Bladon combo. I went so far as to ask the homeowner who was outside at the time why it was there, and was told it was done that way to "throw off SOS folks into believing this was the supported combo." I also checked in on all the e-mails sent out by the SOS cadre and they all "endorsed" the very same Bladon/Butler combo. This site, with its obvious SOS bias, did the same as well.
    I didn't conduct a study, I made some observations. I never claimed that they were scientific or comprehensive. I clearly outlined the roads I traveled--the major arteries. I didn't look at side streets in North or South Wayland (and there are far more side streets in the latter).

    I didn't receive any emails supporting any candidates this year. I did receive SOS email, but none endorsed any candidate. People who have been members of SOS may have sent email on behalf of candidates--are you saying they shouldn't? If so, why should they lose their rights as individuals?

    SOS bias? I don't recall the WEN board having endorsed SOS ever. And as I pointed out above, neither WEN proper or the WEN DF have bias (although the latter certainly does contain endorsements, which in the case of the WEN board are clearly marked).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kim Reichelt View Post
    Personally, I'd love to see all the candidates agree to swear off the signage altogether. The only positives in it I see is that the signs are a visible display of the spirit of democracy, and a reminder to vote. I did like the "VOTE TODAY" notes that were added onto the Kinney signs on Tuesday morning.
    I appreciate you accepting my suggestions in a way that we don't have to go back and forth over them. They are meant as constructive and you obviously took them that way.

    I have heard the sign complaint before... remember, I've run a few times myself.

    My response is that signs are a great playing field leveler. When well organized political groups have been able to accumulate large email lists and take advantage of virtually free communication then it creates a barrier to entry for any other candidate who wants to get into the game but has not been around long enough to have those IP assets. That candidate must then spend money and it does take money to get lawn signs and lawn signs placed. For a candidate with a large barrier to entry there is no better 1-2 punch then lots of lawn signs attached to a website.... the 21st century at work.

    On another point, lawn signs are part of freedom of speech so no law will ever take them away... at least under our present US constitution.

    I hear your complaint, hear my logical counter argument.
    And remember, the people with the email lists also place lawn signs.

    So its just not my stray cats.

    P.S. Ya, I also thought the VOTE TODAY's were a nice touch too.
    Last edited by AlanJReiss; 05-12-2010 at 09:21 AM. Reason: Added PS.

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    I agree that lawn signs are a valuable playing field leveler. I'm less convinced of the value of a web site, though. The difference is the difference between a channel (a lawn) and collateral (a sign, a web site). Without a channel, collateral doesn't get seen.

    It's worth having a web site, but by the time the visitor gets there, they already know you're in the game. What the lawn sign offers is the visibility.

    I always meant to go back and look at visits to my campaign site following elections, but never did, so don't have a sense of how much or little it helped. Alan, if I'm not mistaken, you hosted Shawn Kinney's web site. If that's true, and if you are at liberty to say, would you mind sharing a general view of how much traffic he got. If you do, I'll be happy to share what traffic I got last year (and the years before that, if the data is still available).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    I agree that lawn signs are a valuable playing field leveler. I'm less convinced of the value of a web site, though. The difference is the difference between a channel (a lawn) and collateral (a sign, a web site). Without a channel, collateral doesn't get seen.
    I see it differently, the sign says WHO and WHAT and points to the site. The site says WHY. The site is an extension of the sign.
    As time goes on more and more people use sites and more and more are plugged in to the web.... it will only get better.


    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    I always meant to go back and look at visits to my campaign site following elections, but never did, so don't have a sense of how much or little it helped. Alan, if I'm not mistaken, you hosted Shawn Kinney's web site. If that's true, and if you are at liberty to say, would you mind sharing a general view of how much traffic he got. If you do, I'll be happy to share what traffic I got last year (and the years before that, if the data is still available).

    Any website developer worth his salt puts a counter at the bottom of the first page.
    I believe I saw one there on Kinney's.

    I'll let you be the judge.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach
    I agree that lawn signs are a valuable playing field leveler. I'm less convinced of the value of a web site, though. The difference is the difference between a channel (a lawn) and collateral (a sign, a web site). Without a channel, collateral doesn't get seen.
    Quote Originally Posted by AlanJReiss View Post
    I see it differently, the sign says WHO and WHAT and points to the site. The site says WHY. The site is an extension of the sign.
    As time goes on more and more people use sites and more and more are plugged in to the web.... it will only get better.
    I agree, Alan, but that wasn't the point that I was making. I was simply making the distinction between the collateral (the content, in this case the web site) and the channel down which that content flows (in this case, the lawn visible from the street). If Mr. Kinney had not used lawn signs as channels to deliver his web address to residents, residents wouldn't have known of the existence of the site.

    Quote Originally Posted by AlanJReiss View Post
    Any website developer worth his salt puts a counter at the bottom of the first page.
    Many if not most web sites don't include counters, for a variety of practical and strategic reasons.

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    Default Incorrect "Facts" About How Elections Run Around Here

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Baron View Post
    However, I don't think it is any more of a case of bad sportsmanship than the SOS folks having one of their supporters call Shawn in his office, posing as an "interested voter," asking specifically about one question and then quickly hanging up.
    Jeff - I would like you to confirm for me who this person was that you claimed made this call - because I suspect that the person you THINK you are talking about was me, in which case you have your facts ALL wrong. I would be happy to correct them for you, and for the record, but don't want to waste my time or yours if, in fact, more than one person called Shawn at his office.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Melissa Orlov View Post
    ...because I suspect that the person you THINK you are talking about was me...
    Melissa, I'm confused. Has somebody accused you of something?
    If not, then why would you sign in here and deny something that you are not accused of?

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    Melissa's point was crystal clear. She placed a call to Mr. Kinney that had a profile similar to what Jeff Baron described. If the call in question was in fact hers, then Jeff B.'s accusation of "bad sportsmanship" and his baseless attaching of said bad sportsmanship to SOS falls flat.

    Jeff B., what was the question that was asked?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    Melissa's point was crystal clear. She placed a call to Mr. Kinney that had a profile similar to what Jeff Baron described. If the call in question was in fact hers, then Jeff B.'s accusation of "bad sportsmanship" and his baseless attaching of said bad sportsmanship to SOS falls flat.

    Jeff B., what was the question that was asked?
    Jeff D. I honestly was confused.. thats it - nothing more. I read what Jeff B said and if it profiles anybody it narrows down to perhaps 4,000 people. I've never spoke with Ms. Orlov before and I've never heard her name. Really. So whatever he said (above) did not lead this observer to any specific person. OK? So I'm still confused and with all due respect to Ms. Orlov.

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