“I agree that I will not allow my staff or supporters to misuse any part of the recording of this forum. I agree that the League will have a perpetual, non-exclusive, royalty-free, world-wide license to reproduce, distribute and rebroadcast the forum, including my name, image, likeness, and participation in the forum.”
That is an excerpt from the League of Women Voters contract that is requiring council candidates to sign if they want to be in the debate the six candidates for Atlantic Highlands Council agreed to hold.
I heard several local candidates agreed to sign away their personal rights and have also paid to cover the cost of the moderator. It sounds more like a money maker for the LWM that a real debate. In my opinion this is evidence that anyone who signed this document has no business considering a council position. They clearly lack the business acumen and common sense to make important decisions. What kind of foolish contracts will they approve if elected to council?
A debate is not a bad idea, but it’s doubtful that residents will walk away from this debate with important information they really need. How can I make such a statement?
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First, an out-of-town organization is running it. They have little to no involvement in our town and lack specific knowledge of issues that affect our residents.
The issue of filtering. Transparency is lost when we give control of questions to an outside organization. How will they decide the questions to ask? What research will they do? Who will they ask to help with the local issues? Who approves the questions? What will be off limits? Who decides that? What will they omit because it doesn’t meet their standard for a “fair question”? What is their bias?
Residents are the most important persons in this process. They are the people who must live with council member’s decisions. We owe them an opportunity to be heard directly, not through an agenda driven organization that will censor them.
Ignoring our residents’ needs is the critical error here. The likely result is a waste of our residents’ time at best, or at worst a venue with a slant toward liberal democratic candidates by a liberal organization.
I ask residents to do your own research; the League of Women Voters (LWV) should be the “Liberal LWV” based on their positions in past years. The premise of the debate lacks transparency and honesty, compounded by a virtual setup. Why do you think Democrats were so quick to propose it? Our residents deserve better than dishonest ploys masquerading as a fair and unbiased debate.
The better alternative
The solution is an in-person debate, in town, with local residents asking the questions. Candidates can then answer the questions asked. There should be no limits on what they can ask; what one considers fair, another considers necessary to their decision. Our residents are smart; they can ask their own questions and make their own decisions. The whole thing can be streamed if desired. We could also have two volunteer moderators/neighbors gather questions after verifying the individual lives in Atlantic Highlands. They could ask questions with the originator’s name so it’s transparent.
An in-person venue is also the only way to evaluate the candidate and their frame of mind, i.e. their point of view regarding our town and the external issues that drive them. I firmly believe a person’s world view directly influences decisions on council. We see examples of this at every meeting. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes not, but the public should know this up front and decide before they have to live with the consequences. What organizations have they supported? What have they said in public over the years? These questions if asked, should be allowed and not censored. What will they do on taxes, quality of life and more local issues? Can they be unifiers? This goes for all parties. Members of the public, if concerned can flush this out, not local media, reporting only what they think is important. The only limit should be a strict policy of truth backed up by facts, and when an opinion is stated, it should be identified as such.
I put my faith in our residents and not interloping strangers. Let’s set up our own debate without the baggage and censorship.