|'Vituperative Wrath' and The Review
The introduction to the candidate forum in the last issue of The Review took me to task for "vituperative wrath" directed at Review Publisher Bob Martin. So I thought it important to mention a few things.
First and foremost among them: I respect and admire Bob Martin. He had a dream and a vision, and has worked his butt off for 30 years to make it come true. He's an excellent example of the kind of entrepreneurial spirit that is critical to Saginaw's -- and Michigan's -- success.
There are, as you might notice, a lot of things Bob and I disagree on. But I always enjoy the debate of issues with Bob, who is an intelligent, thoughtful person who loves Saginaw as much as I do. And because they are usually well-thought-out, Bob's arguments usually challenge my beliefs and make me ask questions.
Which is what a good debate should do.
But there were, in the forum's questions and, especially, in Bob's "disclosure" before it, comments that I felt were inaccurate, misleading and unnecessarily inflammatory.
In particular, the statement that Mayor Cottrell and the sitting Council "dismantled" the elected Charter Commission was a disingenuous sucker punch, as was the idea that the appointed Charter Review Committee "contaminated public input."
The Mayor and Council did not "dismantle" the elected Charter Commission. It had a time limit, which ran out. Period.
And there was no more "contamination" of public input in the appointed committee's work than there was in the elected commission's. It's just that Mr. Martin disagrees with the input it received.
Those comments -- along with criticism of the current Council for, well, failing to bicker like schoolchildren as past Councils -- had, I felt, established a snarky, cheap-shot tone for the forum. And, as a lifelong lover of sarcastic wit, I was more than happy to play along.
So I was a bit surprised to see an editorial lead-in criticizing my sarcasm because it took the Review to task for misleading statements and an unnecessarily provocative scenario designed to pit east-side vs. west-side interests.
So if I created the impression -- among Review readers, or it staff -- that these comments were out of "vituperative wrath," let's be clear:
I like and, as I said, admire Bob Martin, even when I disagree with him.
I owe my career to Mike Thompson (and table hockey ... but that's another story).
So while I thought I offered honest, if sardonic, criticsm of the Review's position, I meant no personal disrespect.
I'll never take the first punch in a fight. But if you swing at me -- or, as in this case, people with whom I work and whom I respect -- I'm not going to just stand there and take the punch. Especially if it's delivered, as I felt these were, below the belt.
Another note regarding the Review forum. Since I wrote my forum answers almost a month ago, the Saginaw County Chamber of Commerce has reversed its initial (and unofficial) support for Proposal 8. Its passage would mean some of its member businesses -- generally those with lots of high-value equipment but little real estate -- will see a net tax increase.
This increase will be lower than what they would have seen under previous attempts to lift the revenue cap, which the Chamber has almost always supported. So I don't completely understand the reasoning, from an organization that has always recognized the stultifying effect the revenue cap has had on Saginaw's growth.
While many business owners I've spoken to are in favor of lifting the cap, my statement in the forum that "the business community" supports Prop. 8 is no longer entirely true.
By the way, "Vituperative Wrath" would be a great name for a punk or heavy metal band.