David Rodeback's Blog

Local Politics and Culture, National Politics,
Life Among the Mormons, and Other Stuff

Normal Version

Friday, June 5, 2009
Fleeting Wisps of Blogger Glory

A wisp for me from a reader's e-mail; a wisp for MFCC from the Deseret News.

Once in a while a fleeting wisp of glory wafts toward local bloggers . . .

. . . Towards Yours Truly

I'm not counting here Doug Wright's recent declaration on KSL, "Thank heaven for David Rodeback," because he was responding to a newspaper article where I was (more or less) quoted, not to one of my blog posts. What I am counting is something a reader wrote lately in a personal e-mail, which is not posted anywhere as a comment:

Thank you for bringing some reason and intelligence to local politics.

You're welcome. I try. So do others.

. . . Towards MFCC

MFCC recently had her blog mentioned in The Deseret News. Here's the context, then the mention. (Note that I've changed the paragraph divisions a bit.)

Warning: In this long quotation, my experimental, interpolated, intermittently snarky comments are italicized and in [brackets]. If you prefer the non-snarky version of this post, and if you have the will power, skip those parts, at least at first reading. In any case, I'm aware of my questionable assumption that a newspaper article has quoted everyone accurately. But onward . . .

Although more local officials are starting to blog in an effort to improve government transparency, it's still rare -- especially among local leaders. [So is competent, conscientious personal communication of other kinds. It's not just blogging.] Many officials told the Deseret News they are reluctant to post thoughts and opinions online out of fear that those comments could be misinterpreted by residents. [As Representative Craig Frank lately discovered, sometimes the fear should be that residents will read and correctly interpret their comments.]

"It's inappropriate for an elected official to lead out on issues that the public isn't aware of or hasn't had a chance to make a voice on," said Lehi Councilman James Dixon. "So I would avoid a blog myself." [Let me see if I understand. A leader should not raise issues of which his or her constituents are not already aware, and about which public opinion has not already rendered its judgment. Leadership, you see, is waiting to see where the people are going, then running ahead to lead them there. How could a representative know what the issues are or what to think about them before the public has "had a chance to make a voice on them"? I'm cringing on both philosophical and linguistic levels here.]

Also avoiding blogs are South Jordan City Council members, according to city spokesman Chip Dawson. Dawson said he's seen public discussion and debates on blogs "degrade into something that becomes more personal attacks and opinions rather than a good civic discussion of what's going on in their community." [With a little effort, a blog can avoid posting the personal attacks. But what's so bad about opinions? Some of us believe that the collision of opinions is essential to the production of wise policy -- to that "good civic discussion," you might say.]

But the sort of back-and-forth squabbling for which many sites are known are [sic] rare on the Web site of Heidi Rodeback, an American Fork councilwoman who means business on her sophisticated blog, heidirodeback.blogspot.com. At least weekly, Rodeback meticulously guides her constituents through even the most complicated City Council issues with the fuss and organization of a perfectionist. [MFCC likes the words "sophisticated," "meticulously," and "organization" here better than she likes "fuss" and "perfectionist." She'll feel even more strongly about it if I change my acronym for her to MFPF, for My Favorite Perfectionist Fusspot.]

"I try to keep my personal affairs out of this blog," she wrote. "Its purpose is to account for my work in the city." But after a recent two-month absence, Rodeback was compelled to get personal with followers. "On Jan. 16, for reasons more selfish than altruistic, I donated a kidney," she wrote. "I donated it to my daughter. It was a win-win situation for both of us. She needed my kidney, and I needed my daughter." [A politician spinning altruism as selfishness is a bit disorienting. We're used to selfishness being spun as altruism.]

So there you have it -- or, rather, them: the fleeting wisps of glory du jour.

Normal Version