Quotes of the Day: Opinion Without Thought

Again today, I share an inspired two-fer:

Too often we… enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.

John F. Kennedy

Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.

Daniel Patrick Moynihan, sociologist, cabinet secretary, ambassador, and U.S. senator

My inspiration? Yet another hack opinion piece by Scottsdale Republic editor Grant Martin. I was out of town for a couple of days, but someone brought this to my attention as having been printed on Saturday.

In covering the first meeting of the 2013 incarnation of the Scottsdale City Council, Martin opines of a discomforting public comment from Mike Fernandez [video] directed at–among others–new council member Virginia Korte that

It was a curious statement, given the tone of the meeting to that point and the fact that light rail was not among the listed topics on the evening’s relatively light agenda.

But that sole discordant note in an otherwise harmonious evening was a reminder that you never have to scratch too far beneath this city’s surface, however smooth it might seem to be, to find the undercurrent of fear and anger that drives its debates.

The juxtaposition of these two contradictory paragraphs seems to indicate that Grant simultaneously disapproves of vigorous debate, yet feels it is justified. The first also reflects a very basic lack of understanding of the purpose of “public comment.”

Near the top of every city council agenda, anyone who can read will find this statement:

Public Comment time is reserved for citizen comments regarding non-agendized items [emphasis added].  No official Council action can be taken on these items.

Am I being too picky? If Martin were an ordinary citizen with no responsibility for being familiar with these esoteric matters of procedure, sure. But he isn’t. He’s the opinion page editor of an important section of the biggest newspaper in the State of Arizona…and he continues to show his ignorance through these kind of statements. His mistakes are starting to reflect poorly on his bosses’ tolerance for them.

I also note that on the same page is what amounts to a press release disguised as a letter to the editor from former Paradise Valley mayor and unsuccessful congressional candidate, Vernon Parker. Nowhere in this PR piece do either Parker or Martin identify the former as a paid employee of the developer of the contentious Mountain Shadows project, other than Parker’s intentionally obtuse reference to “getting involved professionally.” This in spite of Republic writer Philip Haldiman last week identifying Parker as the new pitchman for Mountain Shadows. Unconscionable.

You can see Martin’s opinion piece on AZCentral.com, as well as Vernon Parker’s press release.

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