I could see this coming, but I had hoped it wouldn’t. Prepared to make yet another video recording of candidate speeches on the school board and city council campaign trails, PortsmouthCityWatch.org found a virtual “STOP” sign barring the door yesterday morning. The president of the Portsmouth Taxpayer Alliance asked me not to shoot a video of the event. I reminded her that she had advertised it as being open to the public (see the eMail announcement here). She stood her ground without providing either a reason for the request or the name of a requester. I argued that the nature of this event made it a matter of public interest, but she would not relent. That led to choice of either being an obnoxious guest or complying under protest. (The commitment of PortsmouthCityWatch.org to fair play and openness precluded my exercising the Moody Option – i. e., making a surreptitious recording as he did of the September 22 closed council meeting.) My mom would be happy to know that her many hours devoted to instruction in good manners did not go to waste, at least not completely. I decided I would head home.
Before walking out on the meeting, I set up my camera to capture the ambiance of the venue for loyal PCW followers and to register my protest on video. As the Facebook photo reveals, someone was lurking in the background and observing my actions with more than passing interest. The very person I suspect of having instigated the “blackout” of this “home game” didn’t seem a bit camera shy as he “voiced over” my narrative. Since I was heading home anyway, I resumed recording there where I had an atmosphere more conducive to perfecting the “selfie” with the top of my head included!
In a previous posting (A Not-so-Funny Thing at the Forum) I described the behind-the-scenes machinations involved in the attempt to exclude a wider audience from viewing the as-it-happened record of public interaction with the candidates. The most disappointing aspects of that experience and the current one was watching civic-spirited people playing into the hands of politicians who have no compunctions about manipulating others to save their own jobs. Whatever the person said to them, and whoever said it, the forum moderators neither related to me nor allowed me an opportunity to refute.
If CM Moody was the proponent of the “blackout”, one of his comments to me, and anyone else in earshot, was revealing. As I was collapsing my tripod, he taunted me about taking my video home to edit it as I had the others, presumably those of the previous forums. My inference from that snippy snippet of monologue is that he would like to convince the public that the videos posted on YouTube were “doctored” to put him at a disadvantage. Without going into nerdy technical details about breaks in continuity, audio anomalies, and the like, let me just say that anybody looking at those recordings can see no one took the time to do more than capture and upload them wholesale. Much as I would have preferred to create a smooth, professional-looking, and accurate record of the proceedings, every camera-handling flaw is readily visible. Pinpoint accuracy is the only redeeming quality of the body of work.
PortsmouthCityWatch.org has provided this video record to inform the candidate selection process. It cannot, however, serve as the entire basis for evaluating the office seekers. As Ms. Lisa Winstead Sloan so aptly asserted on her Facebook page, “Advocates for Portsmouth Students”, “The time to prove yourself is during your tenure [in office]. If you are an incumbent, save your money. Your record has spoken – we have seen your works.” (If you are a Facebooker, I encourage you check out the whole posting, “Time Up for Business as Usual”.) The electorate cannot take what politicians say about themselves at face value. Check the facts and think critically. The odds are that those telling you what you want to hear are not sharing what you need to know.