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Opinion: Information is power, but silence is a strategy

Mark Chapman
Mark Chapman

NORWALK, Conn. – “What they don’t know won’t hurt them” is an old saying, and it couldn’t be more wrong.

Information, and education, equal power. The more people know, the more they can make informed decisions, decisions that will have an impact on their lives and the lives of others when it comes to the ballot box.

On the other hand, what they don’t know can, and will, hurt them. The idea that less is more when it comes to voters is a strategy by people eager to win, not to make their world, or nation, or state or district a better place.

That’s why we exist – to bring the voters and taxpayers of Norwalk as much information as possible about those who would lead them, who would make the decisions that would have a great impact on their wallets and their quality of life.

But some politicians just won’t cooperate, not with us, not with others. They are the ones who thumb their noses at the very people they want to lead, and whose tax money whey want to spend, both for the government and, through their paychecks, for themselves.

That’s why we take such nose-thumbing seriously.

It is not our intention to endorse candidates, or to take sides. It is our intention – our mission – to “shine a light on government and how it is spending taxpayer money and how it is behaving in the taxpayers’ names.”

And so, as we head into the final days before Tuesday’s election, here are some things voters should know:

  • Republican candidate for governor Tom Foley refused to take part in what would have been two of the final debates of the campaign, one run by NBC CT, the other by News 12, the cable channel.
  • Democratic State Representative candidate Keith Rodgerson tried several times to schedule a 143rd District debate in Norwalk with incumbent Republican Gail Lavielle, to no avail. NancyOnNorwalk was approached late in the game to run one, and was on the fence about taking on the task. The Lavielle campaign took the decision out of our hands. Norwalk has nearly as many voters as Wilton (where both candidates reside) in the 143rd, which also includes a small number of Westport voters. There debates in Wilton and Westport (2), but none in Norwalk.
  • Republican candidate for 142nd District State Representative Fred Wilms ignored a request to answer questions for the AARP Voter’s Guide. His opponent, Democrat Andy Garfunkel, responded. Wilms cooperated with NoN, sitting for an interview prior to the primary election, but then cut us out of the loop for press releases. If you have noticed a lack of Wilms information on our site, this is why.
  • And it wasn’t just Republicans that kept a safe distance from media scrutiny – or at least from media that tends to ask uncomfortable questions. Democratic incumbent State Sen. Bob Duff ignored multiple requests to be interviewed for comprehensive profile, the only local candidate to do so (we did not ask the candidates for governor or U.S. House of Representatives). Duff did grant an audience to The Hour. There is something about websites like NoN – sites that allow for a robust discourse in the comment section – that, we are told, is not part of the Senator’s political comfort zone.

It is unfortunate that the journalistic waters have been muddied by highly partisan outlets or by political stenographers who simply take what the candidates hand out. It is a trend that starts on the national scene and spirals down to the smallest, cash-strapped publications. The trend has fueled the “kill the messenger” mentality of many voters, and politicians have taken advantage to take their messages directly to the people. Unfortunately, that is akin to someone buying a used car or house without first getting it inspected by a disinterested professional.

Comments

9 responses to “Opinion: Information is power, but silence is a strategy”

  1. John Hamlin

    Unfortunately, these points probably won’t make a difference with the voters, who seem unconcerned with most issues.

  2. Joruh

    Lavielle campaigns dirty in Norwalk and white gloved in Wilton. A tale of two Gails. She’ll debate in Wilton but won’t lower herself to the level of having to defend her anti-LGBT, pro-pollution, anti-voter access, anti-sick leave, anti-minimum wage, anti-campaign donor transparency, anti-senior and anti-middle class Koch-supported NFIB corporate far right agenda in our city.

  3. Piberman

    Mark makes too much of local “debates” with only quick responses allowed. Not many attend and with good reason. Not much, if, new information is gleaned. Once upon a time candidates detailed their positions with informative OpEds. Even elected and appointed officials used to be obligated to write OpEds every once in a while. Even former Police Chief penned a few crackerjack ones. Now we depend upon interviews with editors. And occasional reporting. It’s long been the tradition here that once elected the chances re-election is secured. The more interesting question for Mark is why our local Party Chieftons are unable to secure more attractive candidates and then complain it’s hard to get “new blood” when they aren’t open to change. There was a time local officials were admired because they took their duties seriously, were open to the community and didn’t speak with discourtesy about their oppononents either in public or private. It’s not debates that’s the problem. Far from it. Norwalk was kept on a positive track by the Independents. Doug Hempstead is the last of their tribe in office. And citizens interested in their community. Low attendence at debates speaks loudly.

  4. Norwalk Sage

    Mark – with all due respect, methinks thou dost protest too much. If every politician did every debate and responded to every press request, they’d have no time to eat. sleep, or talk to actual voters. You can report the facts, which we appreciate, but complaining that a politician wouldn’t do **your** debate or interview in the last weeks of the campaign sounds like sour grapes, or worse, tinged with partisanship. As that other sage journalist once said, “Stay Classy”.

    1. Mark Chapman

      @Sage

      It was not OUR debate. It would have been Norwalk’s debate. Frankly, we did not want to do it, and our board recommended against it. And I am not sure about the partisanship suggestion. Mr. Wilms and Sen. Duff are not in the same party.

  5. Norwalk Sage

    Joruh – yes that must explain why Lavielle was endorsed by the Sierra Club, the NFIB – the nation’s leading **SMALL business association** and was named Woman of the Year by the Homebuilders and Remodelers association. Rodgerson fought the Patriot Act, so go ahead and support his pro-ISIS record.

  6. Oyster

    @Berman,
    Ah yes, the good old days, before the hour started charging candidates to publish those op eds.

  7. Joruh

    What’s the point of LTEs if Lavielle has the same retread letters by the same shills year after year?

  8. Jeff

    In an nutshell, they just don’t know better. Unfortunately, the referenced candidates are likely oblivious to the quality news coverage and nonpartisan journalism NON provides to the community.

    I also couldn’t agree more with the statement,
    “It is unfortunate that the journalistic waters have been muddied by highly partisan outlets or by political stenographers who simply take what the candidates hand out.”

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