Hyperbole and Ad Hominem attacks

That pretty much sums up the Grunter’s strategy in defending my factual rebuttal of their recent editorial.  The Editor had claimed that the UNH survey showed that a majority of voters were in favor of restoring Brewster Hall.  I came back with the specific numbers and pointed out the error in their assumptions.  His reply was to say that I seem to think that surveys are more important than actual votes.

Actually, I do.  I think it was Carl Rove (not one of my hero’s but nevertheless an undeniably smart guy) who said that an election is not a referendum.  His argument was that in an election, people are forced to make a balanced choice between candidates who stand for various positions on a multitude of issues.  You can’t interpret the result as support for an individual issue.  In a referendum, subjects are asked specific questions about individual issues.

That’s what we have here.  Voters were asked to choose between going along with the Selectmen’s offering to restore Brewster Hall, and doing nothing.  There was no in-between.  Employees had written to the paper to plead with voters, not to restore Brewster Hall, but to relieve their poor working conditions.  The issues were muddled:  Health and welfare of the employees and public, Compliance with a Federal ADA lawsuit, being fed up with the ongoing dispute, and Restoration of Brewster Hall.  When those same voters were asked a year later in a simple non-binding referendum question if they want to restore the place, it’s no big surprise that 10% fewer said yes.  So yeah, I put more stock in the referendum.

But the Editor would rather change the subject and imply that I’m someone who “thinks that government is at best a necessary evil and would prefer to see business conducted in the cheapest locations possible”.  Plainly put, that’s crap, but it’s right out of the Grunter’s standard playbook.  More often than not, they begin any report of Brewster Hall dissent with an Ad Hominem attack on the dissenter, sort of like an old western when they put a black hat on the villain.

The editor has no idea what my views are of government.  He might be surprised if he ever asked me.  But he cannot produce any evidence to support his latest attack, or the attack the week before where he claims that I don’t want to do anything to improve Brewster Hall.

The only way they can make their extreme position look reasonable is to make the opposition seem equally extreme.  They are the ones who refuse to allow public participation, and will never know what opponents want until they ask them.

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7 Responses to Hyperbole and Ad Hominem attacks

  1. Bob Tougher says:

    I believe that voting results are more important than surveys. In 2011 more than 58% of the voters approved a $4 million Warrant Article to renovate Town Hall, and we have approved every Warrant Article since then to do repairs on the building and parking lot.

  2. Dick mosher says:

    You are right on. Unfortunately, the Grunter editor always hs the last word. The only choice is to run a campaign to boycott the paper and maybe get the editor fired, but then we would miss all the humor in his moronic edtitorials.

    At what point does he cross the line and begin to slander the writer.whom he diagerees with???

  3. wolfeblog says:

    I love this guy! After he gets through, you would think that they won that vote.

    The state of New Hampshire has a Municipal Finance Act. The purpose is to insure that the population isn’t subjected to overwhelming debt without overwhelming consensus. In it’s original form, a town needed 2/3 of the population to agree to any new debt. With the SB2 form of government that Wolfeboro adopted, the standard is lowered to 3/5 (67% to 60%). Do you know that Wolfeboro owes more than $20 million dollars?

    When you listen to the friends rant about the 2011 restoration warrant, you might think it passed. News flash – THEY LOST. It’s not horseshoes, it’s a yes or no question. The public said NO. It could only muster 58% who would go along with borrowing millions.

    One of the subsequent votes that he talks about was the $200,000 warrant that was billed as NOT a restoration, but for the health and safety of our employees. It got 56%, so it passed because it was a small amount and didn’t involve borrowing. What he doesn’t mention is that on that same ballot, 52% said they didn’t approve of restoring Brewster Hall in a non-binding referendum question.

    You see what you want to see.

  4. Bob Tougher says:

    I am keenly aware that Wolfeboro owes more than $20 million, and right now our debt service is approximately 10% of our $26 million budget. Unfortunately many of our physical assets, including Town Hall, have been ignored for years, and the trick is to bring everything into shape without making the debt service overwhelming. That includes a large expenditure for town office space, whether it be Town Hall or elsewhere, and I won’t be discouraged from supporting Town Hall because of your mockery. I think it’s a beautiful building that should be repaired, and obviously so do many others! It’s called a Democratic process for a reason.

  5. wolfeblog says:

    What you call mockery I call substantive rebuttal. In a democracy, most people would imagine that when 52% of voters in a referendum say that they don’t approve of restoring a building, the CIP committee wouldn’t then designate that as “urgent”. and the Selectmen wouldn’t vote to approve a four million plan to do it. I’d say we have been living with an Oligarchy and that the populist move to reject this madness is a reemergence of Democracy.

    The town didn’t ignore Brewster Hall for years. The Brewster Trust ignored Brewster Hall for years. The group that became the Friends decided that it would be smart for the town to buy that big unfunded liability and charge the taxpayers for the Trusts’s neglect. I’ve said before that it would have been smarter for the Town to bring action against the Brewster Trust for breach of trust. We will never know what kind of assets the Trust had that could have been applied to repairing the building. All we know is that it was $1 less than what they have now.

    We don’t need to spend millions to stay in Brewster Hall. We need to put in sprinklers and renovate the office spaces to be decent. The Selectmen will not allow an honest public discussion of alternatives.

  6. Bob Tougher says:

    I’m glad you opened the door to staying in Town Hall if we don’t spend millions. It would certainly be cheaper than a new building!

  7. wolfeblog says:

    So now cheaper is better. I would argue that the cost of ownership of a new building, including amortization, maintenance, and utilities, would be significantly less than any reasonable expectation for comparable quality offices in Brewster Hall. Nevertheless, there is the intangible of those who want to stay there. Yes, compromise has always been possible. That’s usually preceded by dialogue.

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