Yeah, I know.
"Lie" is a word that's supposed to be reserved for Donald Trump'ian sorts of deliberate falsehoods. "Misspoke," "shaded the truth," "was inaccurate" -- these are oft-heard replacements for "lie."
But I don't what else to call what T.J. Sullivan, a representative of the Keep Salem Safe campaign that's advocating for Measure 24-399, the vastly over-priced $82 million police facility bond measure on the November ballot, did last night at a Morningside Neighborhood Association meeting.
Sullivan spoke first during the "pro" and "con" agenda item.
Then I had another five minutes to present the Salem Can Do Better arguments for voting NO on the bond measure so a wiser, less expensive police facility plan could be adopted next year that includes public safety funds for making the Library and City Hall earthquake-safe -- which City officials planned to do before some Chicago consultants "supersized" the police facility.
During my presentation I used a poster board chart that compares the cost per square foot for the proposed Salem police facility, and four other police facilities that have been built recently in Oregon, plus the cost of a proposed Beaverton facility.
Sullivan had seen this chart three weeks ago, when we'd taken opposite sides on Measure 24-399 at a September 23 Salem City Club debate. At that debate I'd also shared copies of a cost per square foot handout that had some explanatory text. (See above.)
So Sullivan had ample opportunity to check the numbers on the chart and handout. After all, I included the total square footage of each facility and the total cost -- obtained by me after doing some Googling until I found the size and development cost for the other five police facilities.
Yet when someone at the Morningside Neighborhood Association asked a question about why the Salem police facility cost was so high, Sullivan jumped up, pointed at my chart, and starting talking about how the chart was wrong, an "apples and oranges" thing, supposedly misleadingly showing the total development cost for Salem, and just the lower construction cost for the other five facilities.
(The development cost includes such things as furnishings, design fees, land acquisition, contingencies, and such.)
As soon as I grasped what Sullivan was saying, I blurted out "Wrong!" Because he was.
I'd done the research for the chart. I'd found the web sites where the total development cost and square footage of the other five police facilities was shown. I knew that Sullivan was wrong.
But instead of replying with something reasonable like, "Well, maybe I'm mistaken," or "I need to look into this more closely," Sullivan kept on with his lie.
When I had the chance, I jumped up and reiterated that Sullivan was wrong, telling the people in the room that I'd prepared the chart and knew that the figure for each police facility reflected the total development cost. Yet amazingly, T.J. Sullivan still kept claiming otherwise -- interrupting me much more rudely than I'd interrupted him.
I finally had to say, "T.J., I let you talk; now let me talk."
It really bothers me when political discourse in Salem descends into purposeful falsehoods. In other words, lying. I could have accepted that Sullivan thought the chart wrongly mixed total development and construction costs. But after I repeatedly told him that, as the chart researcher/designer, I knew that this wasn't the case, Sullivan should have backed off.
I'm not saying that Sullivan acted as poorly as Donald Trump. But he echoed Trump's style when he kept repeating something that wasn't true even after the truth had been pointed out to him.
Hopefully this was a Keep Salem Safe campaign aberration, and we won't see any more false statements from the Yes on Measure 24-399 folks.
And here's an open invitation to them: if you find something factually wrong in the Salem Can Do Better "vote NO" literature, let me know about it. I'll check out the supposed problem and fix it if we've said something that's inaccurate.
But please, don't accuse me or other opponents of Measure 24-399 of promulgating misleading information when you don't have any facts to back that up.