Candidates' Questions Asked in Dishonest Manner
(April 30) the Gold Trail Grange in Coloma hosted a candidate forum for District 4 Supervisor. The audience was allowed to ask questions but that process was dishonest.
The questions had to be written, which we were told would be “pulled from a hat.” Instead, a man was rewriting them. I confronted him and asked why he took out “Howard Penn” from the question, “What does End Developer Influence mean?” He said that “each question would be asked to all candidates, and each candidate would be allowed time to answer.” Further, that “No individual questions are allowed.”
Then he started throwing some questions away. I objected again, and he said that those are duplicate questions. I argued that if 20 people in the audience wanted a question answered, and they were all thrown in a hat, that improved the odds of the question being asked. “No, no, we can’t have that,” he said. He returned to editing questions, crossing out lines and changing words, making every effort to hide the questions, but didn’t throw any away while I was watching. I realized it was hopeless and took a seat.
When the question period began there was no hat, no random process for choosing questions as promised. The tall stack of questions, now just a few. Questions were not asked to all candidates as promised, but only to specific candidates, with no opportunity for rebuttal. The agenda had been manipulated and controlled for the benefit of … who?
This was the most blatant disregard for our democratic process I have ever witnessed, and I stood up, voiced my specific objections and left to applause along with about 20 others in the audience.
Who was responsible for this despicable act of agenda control? The League of Women Voters representative John Garon and the Gold Trail Grange. This was not a local gathering for democracy, but a planned dog and pony show of deceptive tyranny. John used a twist on the Delphi technique and threw out any questions that might expose his agenda.
The LOWV, John Garon and the Gold Trail Grange owe this county and the candidates for Supervisor of District 4 a public apology for their egregious conduct, an explanation of why and how it could possibly happen, plus a solemn pledge that it will never happen again.
MARK E. SMITH
I am sorry to see that Harry Mercado and John Garon are not prepared to own up to intentionally controlling the content of a public Candidates Forum. Nor is Harry willing to own up to what I was told would happen at the front door...questions pulled from a hat (randomly selected), no individual questions to candidates, all candidates allowed time to answer each question. This would have been real democracy in action. Whether or not "my" questions would have been asked is not the issue. (By the way, how would you know my questions from any of the others Harry? I didn't sign any of them.) The issue is that everyone present would have had an equal chance of having their question asked, without having someone preset the agenda to "meet my objectives". For your information Harry, we didn't attend the Forum so we could meet your objectives, we attended so we could hear a democratic presentation of the views of each candidate so we could better decide who to vote for. Your views, Harry, should have zero to do with that decision. Voting is an intensely personal decision conducted by secret ballot. At least, it used to be. When I realized that the whole process had been rigged, I stood up and itemized how each promise had been broken, how the meeting had been set-up and the democratic process violated. Then I left the meeting. While "stomping out" sounds great, I walked out peacefully. And sorry Harry, but there were lot's of folks outside who thanked me for standing up and agreed the process was rigged. Even candidates, who I have seen at other events, stepped up and shook my hand while thanking me for doing so. Where you get the ego to think that you know better than everyone else, that you can choose the questions, set the agenda, and control the content of a public candidate forum is beyond me. I hope that the candidates will boycott all forums at the Coloma Gold Trail Grange from this point forward unless you publicly apologize. For that matter, I hope that all the candidates will demand randomly selected questions submitted by the public before they agree to attend any forum, to avoid such a debacle in the future. And Harry, attacking women, calling them names, insinuating dark, evil thoughts and actions makes you, plain and simple, a bully. Look in the mirror, knock it off. Get a grip, Harry, you made a mistake. Own up to it and move on. Same goes for you John. And by the way Harry, you identified John Garon as a representative of the League of Women Voters - that's how they got dragged into this. Step up and apologize, in writing. P.S. You may be interested in this link about Mr Penn: http://www.mtdemocrat.com/essentials/dui-log-2/ It is well within the perview of a single term of office (4 years) and since most Supervisors serve 2 terms if possible, 8-10 years seems very fair in considering a candidates driving record. They will, after all, be driving county vehicles on county business on county insurance placing all of us at risk. Or...didn't you think this question was important enough to ask?