David Rodeback's Blog

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Friday, November 3, 2006
Benjamin Franklin Is Alive! In American Fark!

First some water-bond related housekeeping, then some fun. At least, you'll hope I'm having fun.

First we'll do some water bond-related housekeeping, and then we're going to have some fun.

One Ad, Two Inserts

I finally got a look at yesterday's American Fork Citizen last evening after work. Earlier yesterday I mentioned here the possibility of an October surprise from opponents of American Fork's proposed water bond issue. Here are what I saw and what I didn't see.

There were three copies of a one-page, single-sided opposition insert (not the full-page ad I expected) opposing the proposed bond issue. Since someone else I talked to also got three, I think it was deliberate. I think I'm supposed to give the extras to my friends, if I still have two friends after this week of blogging. This flyer was not and did not try to be an October surprise, which is good. (Admittedly, there are still a few days before the election, so we could yet see one, but not in the local newspaper.)

It rehashed the argument about the project being a massive subsidy for south side developers, which I find unpersuasive and unsupported by the facts. It offered a Special Improvement District (SID) as an alternative approach to a bond -- worth discussing earlier, perhaps, but in the end quite impractical in this case, according to someone I consulted who understands such things. And the flyer actually said something nice about pressurized irrigation in principle. All in all, it did not feature excellent prose or effective visual design, but its flaws were not so glaring as those of the next item I will mention.

As I mentioned yesterday, some supporters ran an ad, less than a quarter-page, which included my and others' endorsements by permission. As things turned out, seeing this ad was painful to me. I don't even care to describe it, but I will say, "Proofread! Proofread! Proofread! And a pinch of graphic design goes a long way."

If you're counting, so far that's two votes for Fark, none for Fork.

Fortunately, the newspaper included the City's five-page informational document, also running as an insert. It looks great and is well written and informative. So I suppose the painful experience I just mentioned is mercifully eclipsed in the average voter's mind. Still, depending on how you count things, that means the final score yesterday was:

Fark 2
Fork 1

Now, About Mr. Franklin . . .

We've been serious long enough, here at the blog. Now, with no offense intended to anyone, really, it's time to have a little fun.

The opposition flyer I mentioned was signed (in print, not an actual signature), "Benjamin Franklin." Ordinarily, I would simply smile, make a mental bow to someone's knowledge of American history, and recall Publius, the pen name James Madison, John Jay, and Alexander Hamilton used in The Federalist. But what if there's more going on here than just a clever historical allusion?

You see, this is not my first recent brush with Benjamin Franklin. I was in Sam Weller's Zion Bookstore in downtown Salt Lake City a few months ago (a veritable Mecca for bookish types like me), at the checkstand near the front door, buying a couple of used books by a favorite British author, David Lodge. I happened to glance at the nearest set of shelves, where there was a sign saying something like "Signed Copies." For a higher price, you can get a copy of a book already autographed by the author.

In that section were many obviously modern copies of The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin! How could he have signed recently published books, if he actually died, as reported, in 1790?

I had a different theory at the time. But now I'm thinking, Is it possible that America's venerable elder statesman is still with us, perhaps even dabbling in American Fork politics?

Wouldn't that be a blessing! Besides the obvious advantages of adding that level of political wisdom and commitment to our politics, it could also spawn some kitschy political fashions. Conservatives (soon followed by envious liberals) could start sporting trendy lapel pins and bumper stickers asking, "WWBFD?" (What would Ben Franklin do?) Then we could ask him and find out.

Of course, steeped as I am in Book of Mormon lore, I now have to wonder also, as my Mormon readers may appreciate -- or perhaps really not appreciate . . . If Franklin is still with us, could it mean he's one of the Three Nephites?

So forget Bigfoot, Tom and Katie's offspring, and the Democratic leaders of the United States Senate and House of Representatives. I want to know if anyone has seen Mr. Franklin from Pennsylvania lately. He may be in Utah.

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