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Politics. Pt. II

Island Life

A little less than two weeks ago I opened up this paper to find that there were  suddenly now two flavors of Island Life being served herein: plain and “real”. Having lived and written and read the plain version a number of times, it seemed only right that I satisfy my curiosity and read all about Real Island Life so as to find out what insights writer Scott Harvey would bring to the fore and what I might have missed along the way. As it turned out, this real version started in much the same way some of my columns usually do, with a reference to the past and a hint of linking the evolving thought train to the present. Where I got derailed was with Mr. Harvey’s attempts to link Sgt. Joe Friday, a fictional police officer played by Jack Webb, and Walter Cronkite, a revered television journalist. I suppose that if one were to flash forward to these times whilst chanting their respective catch phrases of “just the facts” and “that’s the way it is”, one could easily imagine Stephen Colbert and his truthiness campaign stepping up to the podium and spotlight as the embodiment of the melding of these two disparate figures. But in Colbert’s new role as late night talk show host, one might expect truthiness to give way to showiness instead. Along the lines of late nights and talk shows, one might venture over to the youtubes and search for “Jack Webb/Johnny Carson/ Copper Clapper Caper” for a rewarding, comic interlude. If you are wondering where the Real Island Life is in this, you are not alone.

If we jump a few paragraphs down in Mr. Harvey’s real world, we find him making a statement that I created news at a recent Park District meeting. As it is, in recording the goings on at Park District meetings in particular, what I put up on the Vimeo site which then goes to the on demand section of the Voice of Vashon website is unedited footage (it is edited, but nothing is cut or manipulated) direct from the floor of somewhere in the Ober park building. Some might even say it is indeed just the facts, ma’am, although we will not attempt to debate the question of what actually constitutes cinema verite in this space and at this time . If I want to get the facts about the meetings when I write about them, I often go back to the recordings to make sure I have gotten it right (as does at least one writer from the Beachcomber). Along with the facts, I often express my opinions within what I write, as Island Life is a column, not a series of straight news stories. In many ways, at least where the Park District is concerned, I am already providing both Island Life and Real Island Life, so it would seem that at least in that case, Mr. Harvey’s effort on the page was a redundancy.

What I believe Mr. Harvey was referring to as my “creating news” was actually more that I refused to retract what I had written regarding some of his actions at a prior meeting. He has characterized my stating that his one man struggle to fight the County on finally finishing all the permits requirements necessary to keep the park from being closed was either naïve or tilting at windmills, while what I really said was that his objections to signing off on the construction bid and getting this done “seemed odd at best.” The reason I said that was because, having watched and heard of the lying about the existence of  the required grant matching funds, to the fudging on permit requirements, to the rap on the wrist by the state auditor regarding parks financial mishandling of all of this, the VPD has run out of bargaining chips in the good faith realm with the county and the state. To say in my article that “I was a bit baffled as to why Mr. Harvey brought his arguments to the floor…” was totally justified in this light- as to naiveté and windmills- those are Mr. Harvey’s characterizations, not mine.

Mr. Harvey also claims that at a recent Park District meeting I brought to an end the time honored practice of altruistic journalism, although I do not recall doing anything different from any other previous night spent at Ober listening to minutes and motions and staff reports drift as sound and data through the headphones and into SD cards, only to watch it again as I spent hours more afterward preparing the video for consumption by the masses. Again, I express bafflement at Mr. Harvey’s accusations that my actions might be “self-serving”. The only recent action and interaction that I can recall having with Mr. Harvey at a parks meeting concluded in my refusal to talk to him anymore. This came on the heels of his refusal to acknowledge the words on a page of paper I handed to him that contained a simple back and forth email between a county official and myself regarding a claim Mr. Harvey had made at a meeting he and I had had the previous week.

At that meeting Mr. Harvey handed me a series of emails with the other commissioners that he had participated in regarding the VES completion vote. He also posited that a chance meeting and conversation he had had on a bus on the way to work with the above mentioned official, and the subsequent single phone call about VES that official made to other key county officials at the exact time the stalemate between the county and the VPD was resolved, all seemed to mean to him that he had had a single-handed hand in that settlement. I had a hard time believing one phone call could suddenly bring magic realism resolution to what had sounded like relentless negotiations, and so in semi-journalistic fashion I decided to go to the source, which yielded the email response which Mr. Harvey seemed to ignore when it was handed to him at the board meeting that rocked the journalistic world. That email praised four county officials and our own Director Ott and their tireless efforts to work the final bits of the VES mess out. It also said that Mr. Harvey’s call and its timing were a coincidence to the resolution, and nothing more.

And so, besides telling me that I should retract statements I had made that I didn’t, and then claiming he had stepped in and saved the day like some kind of Parks Jesus by inspiring miraculous change through one mystical phone call, he also had the audacity to proclaim that he was the best candidate to defeat Mr. Ameling, and that I should step aside in a humble moment of contrition and apology for my apparent transgressions against St. Scott. In plagiarizing my quotes from a previous article from Island Life, I will close by saying that all of this seemed a bit odd at best, and I remain a bit baffled as to why Mr. Harvey brought this argument to the floor to begin with. Oh wait, that’s why I titled this “politics”.