"What the ___?!" (I'll leave it to you to imagine a proper profanity to fill that blank.)
That was my reaction when someone sent me the message below from the Keep Salem Safe folks who are advocating for passage of a way over-priced and poorly planned $82 million police facility bond measure on the November ballot.
They're telling people that the Statesman Journal has endorsed Measure 24-399. But clearly, this isn't true.
The link circled in red below leads to a newspaper editorial that talks in a confusing fashion about "lowest common denominator" and earthquake safety, but doesn't call for a yes vote on Measure 24-399.
After the editorial was published, I wrote a highly critical blog post about it: "Worst. Statesman Journal editorial. Ever?" But neither I, nor anybody else who left negative comments about the editorial, thought that it was an endorsement of Measure 24-399.
And that worst editorial ever is the basis for the Chamber of Commerce's Build Jobs PAC and Keep Salem Safe claim for an endorsement.
So this morning I emailed the five members of the Statesman Journal editorial board: Publisher Ryan Kedzierski, Executive Editor Michael Davis, Editorial Page Editor Dick Hughes, Distribution Director Paul Nettland, and Senior Reporter Carol McAlice Currie. (There are no community members on the editorial board, just newspaper staff.)
Members of the Statesman Journal editorial board, the Keep Salem Safe campaign that is urging a “Yes” vote on Measure 24-399 is saying that you have endorsed the $82 million police facility bond measure. See image below, a screenshot of an email that someone sent to me.
Is this true?
If so, I’m perplexed, because I figured the editorial board would meet with opponents and supporters of Measure 24-399 prior to taking a position on the measure. As a leader of the Salem Can Do Better PAC that is opposing the measure, I have lots of information to share with you that, I’m quite sure, you’re not aware of. Hopefully you’re not basing your (possible) endorsement on the City Club debate between T.J. Sullivan and myself that didn’t reflect all of the pro and con arguments on Measure 24-399.
Or, is this not true?
In that case, the Statesman Journal needs to tell the Keep Salem Safe campaign to stop publicizing a non-existent endorsement.
Please let me know which is the case ASAP.
Either the Statesman Journal has made an endorsement without learning crucial facts about Measure 24-399, or the Keep Salem Safe campaign is making an erroneous claim about the newspaper endorsing the measure. I need to let Salem citizens know which is true as quickly as possible.
— Brian Hines, Treasurer, Salem Can Do Better PAC
As the saying goes, I haven't gotten a response to my inquiry as of this blog's press time. I asked for a reply ASAP, which I assume professional journalists would know means As Soon As Possible.
In the 9 1/2 hours since I emailed the editorial board at 11:31 am, I've responded to many email messages. But so far no one on the editorial board has taken the time to send me what could be a one-sentence message.
Either, (1) "Yes, we intended the Lowest Common Denominator editorial to be an endorsement of Measure 24-399, even though we didn't actually say this in the piece," or (2) "No, we haven't yet made a decision to endorse or oppose Measure 24-399 and the Chamber of Commerce is wrong to say that we have."
As noted in my message to Dick Hughes, et.al., as the leader of the opposition to the $82 million police facility bond measure, Salem Can Do Better, I've been waiting for an invitation to meet with the editorial board.
One would think that just as the editorial board hears from both candidates competing to be elected to an important local public office, such as Chuck Bennett and Carole Smith in the recent Mayor's race, so should it hear from both sides of an important local ballot measure, such as the $82 million police facility bond on the November ballot.
I can't believe that the Statesman Journal would consider the confusing, illogical "lowest common denominator" editorial to be an official endorsement of Measure 24-399, especially since the editorial never advised a "Yes" vote on the measure, nor did it address any issue involving the police facility other than earthquake preparedness.
So my hunch is that the Salem Chamber of Commerce and the Keep Salem Safe campaign are wrong in their claim that the Statesman Journal has endorsed Measure 24-399. But if this isn't the case, then the newspaper's editorial board has just published a highly deceitful political endorsement.
One that was made without talking with the "pro" and "con" sides of the bond measure, without presenting any substantive facts in support of the bond measure, and without even explicitly saying "we urge voters to approve Measure 24-399."