T-S Letter on V and Propaganda

I wanted to highlight a great letter by a McKinleyville resident named Colin Fiske in today’s Times Standard.  Here it is, also buy a paper today or subscribe to the T-S. Its worth it.

Measure V a good idea, proposed by good people

Measure V represents the ideal of grassroots democracy in action. A group of ordinary folks facing a serious problem realized that this problem was bigger than any of them individually. They realized rents were rising fast in many mobile home parks, and that this threatened the already meager affordable housing supply. So they approached local officials asking for a solution. They were rebuffed.

This type of situation is why the ballot initiative process exists. And the rent stabilization advocates took advantage of that process in just the right way. They did thorough research, engaged experts, and wrote an ordinance which would stabilize rents while avoiding unintended side effects. They gathered the required signatures and got it on the ballot. So far, so good.

Unfortunately, the opposition to Measure V has now mounted a campaign that’s a perfect example of what’s wrong with our modern democracy. A few outside megadonors are spending mountains of cash to blanket our county with anti-V propaganda. Paid political hacks have parachuted in, and dirty tricks and misleading messages abound. They’re trying to convince us that we can’t believe our friends and neighbors who put this initiative on the ballot — that even though Measure V sure seems like a good idea, somehow “it’s not what it seems.”

The truth is that Measure V is exactly what it seems. It’s a good idea, proposed by good people, and it will be good for our county. Humboldt County voters should vote Yes on Measure V.

Colin Fiske, McKinleyville

I hear the term “propaganda” quite a bit from conservatives to describe what we on the left might call education or even information.  Its a distinction I struggle with because I am concerned about that line where education ends and propaganda begins.

Here is how The Google defines “propaganda”:

“information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view”

The key distinction would be that the information is misleading, and I would add knowingly misleading.

Since this last weekend, blog-o-philes like myself have been subjected to a despicable campaign of personal destruction of Hillary Mosher the former leading figure in the Yes on  V campaign.  This completely avoidable morality play took place with e-mails exchanged between Ms. Mosher and Casey Kelly CEO of FolletUSA/Inspire back in JANUARY.  Of course the interested parties held onto this information and then released it 3 weeks before the election with outspoken advocates Doug Johnson of the Northern California and Bay Area Western Manufactured Housing Communities Association and mobile home park  owner Guntram Wolski making sure to comment to let the public know how they should process this October surprise.

Never has it been clearer to me as I try to navigate through their talking points that Mr. Fiske has it exactly right in his succinct appraisal of the current status of the politics of Measure V.

And to take this a step further I’d like to make a general point that despite Republican or conservatives using the term “propaganda” against those of us that would support public AND private interests, our economic system has turned so far against the majority of the public that it is the American right that is best described with this word.

Humboldt’s Measure V is clearly one example.  I’d argue Measure P is another.  But stepping back, on issue after issue from international diplomacy to health care to climate change, every day it becomes clearer that the use of misleading information is a trend that is rooted in one of the two major political movements in our country. That movement is trying to repeat the successes of priorities such as reducing top marginal tax rates with President Reagan in the early 1980’s with the same false rhetoric, the mendacity of which was not as clearly self-evident to most voters 20 or 30 years ago.

But when people pay attention, and with tools such as campaign finance reports and the inter-tubes voters now have access to parts of the story that the good people behind No On V would rather not talk about.  So when we are confronted with people like the salaried representative Doug Johnson or tactics such as those unleashed upon Hillary Mosher for what they are  – a morality-play meant to distract the voter from economic forces which, without smart or fair regulation, will necessarily leave no place in our community for people on a fixed or low income.

Or to use Mr. Fiske’s term.  It’s propaganda.

To Mr. Wolinski and Mr. Johnson it IS profits over people and if the people can’t afford the rent, well, then, the government will be there to pay for their rents.*

Thank you Mr. Fiske for your clear, concise and accurate letter today in the Times Standard.  It was required reading as therapy for me after a week of trying to debate with those that oppose smart rent stabilization efforts in mobile home parks and to help prevent these parks from becoming less of a home to individuals and more of a commodity for investors.

*This is what they are talking about with their support of means-testing rather than rent-stabilization as a means of addressing the problem of affordable housing.  See more here in one of many replies to Doug Johnson this week.


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