Acautionary note, as the title suggests: When you post on a blog, you'd better assume anyone and everyone - to include your critics, your your business partners, your mom, people you never have and never will meet - may wind up reading it. Those of us who grew up with publishing through print and broadcast - put it out there and it's out there, never to be fully taken back - may actually have a better grasp of this than today's high schoolers, who use web myspace pages to communicate (some of them think, incorrectly) just between themselves.
Such discussion runs into our subject area in the case of John Statler, a council member at Medford, who earlier this year started experimenting with a blog, Statler's Rogue Valley Views. Nothing wrong with that, of course; many public officials blog (and we'd enjoy seeing blogs from more of them).
Last summer he unleashed onto his blog some thoughts about his perceptions of activities in Medford city government. Such as: "The City Council has a majority of Council members who meet outside of the public arena and make decisions and give direction to the City Manager also in a way that is outside of public arena. The City Manager and his staff have exhibited a significant level of incompetence in tracking the direction given by Council in a public arena." And there was a good deal more, not much of it complimentary.
In a post yesterday, Statler explained, "The article wasn’t really meant to be a public document. It was really an experiment in blog formating. The article itself was my attempt to search for meaning in how the council discusses matters. I was primarily motivated by the City Manager taking me to task for having, perhaps, a bad memory. Turns out I didn’t have a bad memory after all. I decided to leave matters alone after writing the post. I felt it would be better to see what the results of the upcoming election might be before pursuing the matter further. Now there will be several new council members."
Not that any of this has made the other council members happy once they found what was released to the world, and the subject has now become a topic (probably Topic A) at the Medford Council. Other council members said they have not been meeting secretly and have done nothing wrong. One them asked the state ethics commission to intervene, only to be rebuffed. (It may not have known exactly what to do about blog posts.) On the other hand, if Statler wanted to get the attention of the other council members, well, he certainly got it.
A point to remember: Meetings are sometimes open and sometimes not, but blog posts always are.