Archive for Wednesday, March 27, 2002

Misrepresenting someone’s ideas

March 27, 2002

To the editor:

Recent accusations that our City Council has been "micro-managing" this city are just misrepresentations intended to discourage the council from exercising any real oversight on behalf of the public. I regret having to write this, but things have been said that require response. The task would be much less distasteful if the true opponents of political reform in Bonner Springs would venture onto the field instead of prompting innocent little ladies to do battle for them.

In a letter to The Chieftain last week, Doris Elliott-Watson accused me of inaccurately portraying the management style of our mayor, but she did not mention any specific inaccuracy. Vague innuendo deserves no regard.

In the same letter, Mayor Breneman's commitment to the proper stewardship of the public's money and his determination that every citizen will be treated equally are admitted. Then, he is accused of losing sight of those goals. But, again, no specific instances were cited. Vague innuendo deserves no regard.

Mrs. Elliott-Watson misrepresents me as feeling that "it is good that we bicker" (marked to indicate that she is quoting me). For the record, I have never been an advocate of bickering. I am on record in favor of democracy, open government, legislative oversight, due process, governmental checks and balances, public debate and compliance with open-meeting laws. All of that can be conducted with civility, grace and decorum.

Recently, some of our neighbors in Piper have struggled to teach their school children that credit must be given when other people are quoted. It is important to teach children that plagiarism is dishonest. It is just as important that we teach them the other half of the same lesson: when you attribute a statement to someone else, you must have the integrity to be sure you quote them accurately. Misrepresenting someone else's ideas is even worse than stealing them.

Mrs. Elliott-Watson claims to recognize predictable behavior patterns in our mayor and council members. She characterizes most of them by claiming that they never engage in personal verbal attacks. She conspicuously omits several council members from that praise. I have never known any of those ladies ever attacking any persons instead of questioning policies or practices.

With her history of conflict with the city government, it would seem that Mrs. Elliott-Watson should support the mayor and the reformers on the council. Why, then, does she make disparaging remarks about them? Unfortunately, I have never learned to predict or understand her behavior. Perhaps the answer is rooted in the fact that Doris Elliott-Watson is the only person I have ever heard make a personal verbal attack during a council meeting. Mayor Breneman immediately stopped her and publicly scolded her for making a personal attack on citizens who voluntarily serve on one of our city commissions. Mayor Breneman does not tolerate personal attacks on anyone during City Council proceedings, either from the council members or from the public. I hope that this helps to remedy any deficiency in the earlier description of his management style. Perhaps it also explains Mrs. Elliott-Watson's disposition regarding our mayor.

Henry Chamberlain

Bonner Springs

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