“HOW EASY IT IS FOR SO MANY OF US TODAY TO BE UNDOUBTEDLY FULL OF INFORMATION YET FULLY DEPRIVED OF ACCURATE INFORMATION.” Over the recent months, I have noticed an increase in irresponsible and malicious behavior and purposeful misinformation. This has been perpetuated by the usual cast of questionable characters with questionable intentions and dullards and ne’er-do-wells. Unfortunately, the Internet creates an environment that allows one individual to post gossip and hyperbole to many individuals in a few keystrokes. They do so with impunity and with no expectation or accountability or consequence.
In the past, this same activity would require much more time and energy and actual face-to-face interaction. Veracity has fallen to the wayside along with personal accountability. The biggest victim is the public at large and to a greater degree the public good.
The most recent victim of such abuse was the public of Foster City who were the victim of a Nigerian level Internet and postal campaign regarding the impending Levee project. This included a coordinated effort on the part of a newspaper, website, and postal campaign that irresponsibly posted and printed misinformation and speculation with no basis in fact and in fact, no fact checking. No one has stepped up to assume responsibility for the malfeasance. This is no surprise. Should such an individual actually assume responsibility, that person would lose all credibility with the community at large and the residents who were misled by the purposeful misinformation campaign. Much as the aberrant teenager who calls in a false bomb threat to a school, perhaps this coward enjoyed watching the public attend our last meeting only to learn they has been fooled by the anonymous campaign of buffoonery.
There is an old adage I am reminded of, “fool me once shame on you fool me, twice shame on me.” I would add, fool me once shame on you, fool me twice and that is a choice; a choice by me to be fooled again. If we the public allow these miscreants to wreak such havoc, we are making a choice to be a victim. This is indeed a shame since we could easily find correct information from the source; The City, its staff and Council.
As recently as last week, we were fortunate to have another great mind chime in on another topic of great import. He was as usually equally vacant with regard to fact, equally vacuous with regard to our intent, and even more if possible more misleading and incorrect with regard to the legal position he posited. This is no surprise, because he has been consistently wrong in this regard on virtually every issue he chooses to chime in on. He is also equally absent after he creates a tempest in his personal teapot. He never shows up to present his position face-to-face so that he can be corrected in real-time and the public can view him in the clear light of the Council Chambers. This is no surprise to me since this individual lacks any legal or public service education or experience.
While he posits his personal opinion as legal fact and/or black letter law, he in fact offered his misguided and ill-informed opinion once again. I have found it better to take advice from knowledgeable and skilled professionals in these cases. By way of example, I take my car to a certified and educated individual and as such my car is fixed. In the cases of legal and city actions, I take my advice and counsel from our legal team, attorney and our City Manager. All of whom have a stellar record of success and have not misled us once. For those who allow this self-proclaimed expert/individual to serve as their guru, you get what you pay for.
He continues to self-perpetuate his own self-worth and exaggerates his importance through a series of post on social media outlets. The true import of his musing can be seen in the same responses and replies from the same 4 to 10 individuals who prop him up.
The sole ameliorating fact is that our public is well educated and in most cases sees such individuals for what they are and can see through their intent. The sole casualty is the City Staff which has to spend additional time and resources correcting the misinformation that was distributed, while providing the public sound and accurate analysis and update as to what policy decisions the City Council is considering in regards to the most critical City Public Works project to-date, the Levee Protection Planning and Improvement Project.
Perhaps, what is most telling are the stream of emails we receive post-meetings after the public learns the facts regarding our policy decisions and project presentations. Over time, our community will tire of the nonsense perpetuated by these malfeasant individuals. That is the good news, the public good will continue to be served by the diligent staff and public servants who stay the course, in spite of the challenges presented by the small minority of those who break windows and not build buildings.