Tuesday, June 30, 2009

"We can no longer keep putting our collective heads in the sand and hope all goes well while we disengage."

Governor's gambit inserts misinformation

Rick Perry: Deep thoughts


By Jean Hayworth
The Breckenridge American
Copyright 2009

I did warn you a few months ago (Feb. 18 edition), that the Texas Governor’s race would get ugly but I didn’t think it would start so soon. This doesn’t qualify as ugly, just a minor skirmish, but foretells what possibly is to come.

The governor’s office made a big splash about Gov. Perry signing legislation to bring a constitutional amendment to the voters that would limit the governor’s eminent domain power before voters in November.

The following announcement was made in the San Antonio Express-News Tuesday, June 16: “Texans in November will vote on a constitutional amendment that would limit the ability of the government to take private land by eminent domain for economic development.” “Gov. Rick Perry signed a bill at Alomo Plaza on Monday, June 15, that would send the property rights decision to voters, saying that approval would mean a victory for landowners.”

If the readers are just semi-aware of how Texas government works, a red flag should have gone up immediately. The alleged “resolution” Perry supposedly signed did not need his signature and in fact, was never delivered to Perry’s office. Legislation for constitutional amendments by-pass the governor’s office and go straight to the office of the Secretary of State, Hope Andrade, with no required action by the governor nor any signature necessary.

According to Ken Herman of the Austin American Statesman, the San Antonio Express-News was duped into announcing the governor’s appearance and the purpose of that appearance, the signing of the alleged resolution. Herman went on to explain, “Texas governors have nothing to do with proposed constitutional amendments. When a proposed amendment gets the necessary two-thirds vote in each chamber – as HJR 14 did this year – it goes to the secretary of state, who puts it on the state-wide ballot the following November.”

Subsequently, the public editor of the San Antonio Express-News ran a correction to their faulty story, explaining how their incorrect reporting was based on intentionally misleading information provided by Gov. Perry’s office.

According to the editor, “A late Friday, June 12, media advisory from Gov. Perry’s office promised he ‘will sign legislation to allow Texans to vote on a constitutional amendment to increase property owners’ rights.’” A story on the governor’s Web site that Monday, June 15, was headlined: “Gov. Perry signs legislation protecting Texas property owners.”

Based on that information, the editor went on to clarify how the San Antonio Express-News got the story wrong by falling for the misleading information that came out of the governor’s office about the “staged, make-believe ceremony,” at Alamo Plaza.

The San Antonio news paper went on to explain the background of Gov. Perry’s veto of legislation that would have protected private property owners in the controversial Trans Texas Corridor in the 2007 legislative session, that had widespread support from legislators, who wanted to protect Texas property owners.

As a result of Gov. Perry’s veto, Perry received some hostile press concerning his veto. It is understandable that Gov. Perry would want to attach his name to this current resolution in a very public way. His office did a disservice to the governor by not explaining to him how the government works concerning resolutions which resulted in everyone connected with the governor’s office making a very public faux pas.

The San Antonio newspaper continued their clarification of the governor’s action: “Today, Rick Perry spent taxpayer time and money to travel to San Antonio to ‘sign’ a measure, which does not require a signature by the governor nor a ceremony.”

Kay Bailey Hutchison’s spokesman, Hans Klinger, commended the San Antonio Express-News for getting the story straight finally and the Austin American-Statesman for correctly reporting the obvious grandstanding by the governor and the intentional misinformation fed from his office.

My point is that we, as citizens of Texas, will see and hear more of this from both sides and will need to clarify for our own benefit what is really going on and whose slant are we getting in such news stories.

The dissemination of misinformation has risen to new levels of skill that have been perfected by the national news on both sides of the aisle and we, as citizens, need to be more vigilant about what we believe and examine the source of that information. It is amazing how distorted the information is that we receive in print or view on TV and are being fed from nationally recognized news agencies.

If a viewer watched two different major news channels, the viewer would get totally different information on the same basic news story. It is the spin that has gotten entirely out of hand and the personalities that have evolved as a result. Unless the viewer is very discerning he or she soon begins to believe the babble that comes out. Factcheck.com is an excellent source for clarifying information. Sometimes the information is semi-correct so it has enough believability to meet requirements of honest reporting.

Another source is snopes.com which provides a list with each report that tells where they got their information. The report also includes in the original news story you are researching is true, false, partly true, undetermined, etc.

With so much distorted and misinformation being disseminated from a variety of sources, viewers are deliberately being fed less than creditable information which requires that we, as citizens, become much more discerning about what we give creditability to and what we don’t.

Ask the hard questions, examine and research the information and then determine what is the correct story minus the spin, distortions or deliberate misinformation. Citizens are being manipulated to an alarming degree and need to close the barn door and insist on fact directed news be dispensed to viewers and readers.

If citizens have no problem with being manipulated, then this advice doesn’t apply to you but we can no longer keep putting our collective heads in the sand and hope all goes well while we disengage.

We, as citizens, are getting very lazy when we allow others to tell us what to believe in a particular news story when a quote is deliberately lifted out of context and then misrepresented as news. If we took the time to hear the whole context, we might get a different perspective.

Before I get too many responses, let me clarify, I’m not talking about moral issues that we believe in that have been authenticated by our belief in a higher power. I’m talking about issues that lead to legislation that we vote on or representatives vote for or against, on our behalf.

We have the right to demand honesty and integrity from all who spout misinformation, distorted half-truths and deliberate manipulation of the public trust. This is not a new phenomena but has gone on much too long, especially in the last decade.

Where do we find honest people who would serve the public interest above their own personal agenda? Not only in the legislatures on the state and national level but integrity from all those “alleged” spokesmen from the radio and TV news media.

© 2009 The Breckenridge American: www.breckenridgeamerican.com

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