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About this blog: Real power doesn't reside with those who make the final decision, but with those who decide what qualifies as the viable choices. I stumbled across this insight as a teenager (in the 1960s). As a grad student, I belonged to an org...  (More)

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In Defense of "Incivility"

Uploaded: Oct 14, 2014
In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is. ? Yogi Berra

Civility is one of those things that in theory you want, until you see how it is used in practice. Civility is widely used as a weapon by those in power to suppress dissent and the consideration of alternates and other perspectives. Disagreeing with those in power is often cast as being "disrespectful of their professionalism" or of their office. Appeals to civility are used to squash protests that a meeting is being manipulated, and to prevent people from making timely responds to ad hominem attacks.

The issue of civility has come to the forefront in the City Council election with the Weekly's endorsement of Cory Wolbach who highlights restoring civility in his speeches (their discussion). Several other candidates are making lesser statements about improving civility. Then there are the candidates who are talking about the need to change the culture at City Hall, and they are being told that they are being uncivil for focusing so much on on-going problems rather than what has been accomplished. And this is also relevant to the School Board contest.

This blog post is to encourage a discussion (here and elsewhere) of this issue both in general terms and relative to the specific candidates. General discussion of the pros and cons of the candidates is off-topic. I know that it will be hard to refrain from advocacy for votes for individual candidates, but please try.

My concern about advocates of civility is not just those that would use it as a weapon against others, but those who are naïve and are easily manipulated into allowing it to be used it as a weapon. I am constantly amazed by how many Palo Altans involved in civic affairs and politics refuse to recognize obvious bullying. One diagnosis is that has some observable validity is that some/many of such people have various degrees of aversion to conflict, and appeals to civility are a shield they use to justify not standing up to the bullies.

I have encountered many Palo Altans that choose to believe that "we are all reasonable people", and that instances of incivility are merely aberrations, and that a quiet, private conversation is all it takes to remedy the situation. When you ask such people what they would do if the offender refuses to mend his ways, the answer is that you should keep trying, and they refuse to allow that there are situations where this will fail. My experience is that this attitude guarantees that the bullies and other abusers will triumph. There is the perverse situation where there are those who will not stand-up against the bullies but will condemn those that do as uncivil.

Anticipating arguments that Palo Altans are not that easily bullied, I can tell you that in my experience as a neighborhood leader I saw many of my neighbors walk out of meetings furious at the way they were being treated. More said that they wouldn't go to subsequent meetings: The conduct of the meeting made it clear that their input was unwelcome and a waste of time.

"What's past is prologue" ? Shakespeare (The Tempest)
Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it (foot#1)
Some choose to view the contention surrounding Maybell project as an isolated occurrence and that we should just move past it. However, it was the culmination of many years of similar problems. For example, the bullying of residents who were raising questions and concerns about that project was layered on top of the bullying of residents raising concerns about the Arastradero Restriping plan?raise a question about it and you would be denounced as someone who wanted to drive 50 mph on Arastradero and didn't care about the safety of children. (foot#2) To illustrate how long-running this situation has been, I have reproduced below the 2007 version of opinion piece about civility being used as a weapon.

If one is concerned about actually promoting a more civil discourse, one needs to look at the history of the various issues to understand the motivations, the dynamics and the key players. For example, affordable housing is one of several issues where for many of the advocates it goes beyond ideology to being treated with near religious fervor. Not surprisingly some of those advocates are quick to demonize anyone who simply raises questions about their proposals.

Learning the lessons of the past is not just important to avoid your stepping into known traps, but into maneuvering to give a wide berth to those traps so that others are less like to trigger them. Leadership is not just about not avoiding these problems yourself, but actively trying to prevent those problems from re-occurring. To reestablish civility, a leader needs to reestablish trust that people will be treated fairly and be protected. What sort of leader is it that dismisses people's concerns that are well-founded in past experience? One that indicates that that leader will do nothing to protect them, and may even facilitate continuing abuses.

Getting the candidates to talk about the history of these events not only reveals whether they have the knowledge needed to move things forward, but also reveals how they would deal with future instances, and whether they have the experience to deal with the complexity, ambiguities and hard decisions of these situations. (foot#3)

If you try to get a candidate to talk about this sort of history and the candidate declines, saying that "he doesn't want to engage in finger-pointing", what does this say about what the candidate would do if elected?

Civility: Style and Substance
When you are talking with someone about civility, try to figure out whether they are simply talking about style, or if they also include substance. It continues to amaze me how many Palo Altans think of civility only in terms of the phrasing of what is said?that it is civil to utter the most outrageous falsehood or make the most craven accusation as long as the language used is polite.

I come from a very different background, one that values substance over style. It is often necessary to forgo polite language in order to get people treated fairly and with respect. My training for leading meetings is that they need to be open, fair and honest. If incivility is needed to achieve that, so be it.

########

Civility run amok: Lies are bad ... so don't you dare point them out
(This is a lightly annotated version of an opinion piece written in summer 2007 that was part of a series, The Palo Alto Process: A culture of bad decision-making that had evolved from talking points and shorter comments going back to roughly 2000 )

The proper role of civility in debates is to keep the focus on the issues?the facts, tradeoffs and priorities?and keep personalities out. However, in the Palo Alto process, a perverse version of civility is too often used to thwart reasoned, fact-based consideration of issues by protecting the falsehoods proffered by favored parties.

For example, several years ago, I was involved in an issue(foot#4) where the presentation by the leading advocate included a phantom $6 million a year of benefits. This was not an inadvertent mistake?during earlier presentations to other groups, this error had been pointed out, and he had acknowledged it, multiple times, yet it stayed in the presentation. When I spoke later in the Council meeting, I focused on the inadequate financial analysis, and cited the $6 million/year as "a previous speaker" being "confused" about the numbers . When I finished, the then-Mayor launched into an extended admonishment directed at me about "personal attacks." Neither I nor multiple other people at the meeting could figure out how I had crossed the line. I asked the then-Mayor and he told me "People could figure it out." Message received: Better for the City to squander millions of taxpayer dollars than risk having an insider be briefly embarrassed for an attempted deception.

More commonly, pointing out falsehoods simply gets you ignored. Council members claim they must treat speakers "with respect" as a rationale for not challenging even outrageous falsehoods. For example, consider the developer who didn't want to test his property for likely insecticide contamination.(foot#5) His consultant testified that there couldn't be "pesticides" in the soil, otherwise they would have killed the grass and trees ("pesticides" can be taken to include herbicides when plants are classified as "pests"). Council nodded politely and took no action.

Council routinely allows developers to supply implausible numbers to avoid paying for some impacts of their projects, thereby shifting those costs onto the taxpayers. Take the developer who wanted to overbuild a site next to an already congested intersection(foot#6) but didn't want to pay for traffic improvements. He proposed 177 housing units and R&D space for 140-200 employees. His consultant stated that this would generate only 87 trips during the morning peak. Council didn't question the methodology or otherwise show skepticism. Apparently, it would have been "disrespectful"?it would have suggested the consultant was so unprofessional as to skew the data in favor of his client.

Another approach used by housing developers to avoid paying for impacts is to claim that very few of the occupants will have children (children cause additional car trips, need space to play?). And the City accepts such claims, despite experience after experience after experience.

The latest example is the not-yet-complete housing at the former Hyatt Rickeys (now Arbor Real) which has already produced a flood of children into the schools. Again, is it worth millions of taxpayer dollars for Council to avoid the unpleasantness of having to question, and reject, such claims?

Every now and then a Council member is so appalled by the falsehoods that s/he will ask a question indicating that s/he is not being deceived. However, this rarely receives any support from other Council members, and thus goes nowhere. And asking more than the infrequent inconvenient question garners the visible displeasure of other Council members.

True civility requires making choices: Council's policy of "showing respect" for all speakers and their "facts" represents an impossibility. When you accord the same "respect" and apparent weight to a concocted "fact" as you do to painstakingly conducted, careful research, you are actually displaying contempt for the latter.

Falsehoods are not the only area where "civility" is used as an excuse to avoid taking action against abuse of the process: It means acquiescing to bullies, provided that they are powerful or otherwise well-connected. For example, one (outgoing circa 2007) Council member routinely grossly distorts the statements and concerns of ordinary residents for the purpose of ridiculing and trivializing them. And her colleagues say and do nothing. Preserving the thin veneer of pseudo-"civility" is more important than treating the underlying rot in the process.

In other cultures, "damning with faint praise" may be an appropriate way to express opposition, but in this country it is often misunderstood, and occasionally deliberately exploited. Yet, Council continues to engage in this practice, despite being burned. I don't want to even think how much this "civility" has cost the taxpayers in bad decisions.(foot#7)

If the guiding principle is "Everyone is entitled to their own facts",(foot#8) is it any surprise that Council decisions are so often dismissed as simply raw politics, the exercise of influence by established special interests or the ability of advocates to pack the Council Chamber with supporters?

For the next City Council, we need members who believe that their first priority is making good decisions for the City, not going along to get along. Actual facts and logic are critical to delineating the options and the tradeoffs, with the role of politics being how those choices are prioritized.

---- Footnotes ----
1. A widely used variation on "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it" by George Santayana.
2. I am one such person. I was one of several people who tried to point out that the traffic lane configuration at the crossing to Terman Middle School encouraged speeding. When one gets denounced for not caring about the safety of children for trying to improve the safety of a crosswalk at a school, is there any question that this isn't bullying?
3. My front row seat to the debate on the Maybell project was in my role as manager of the Barron Park Association's email discussion lists. I live on the opposite side of the neighborhood and had decided to take no position on the project to facilitate being a more effective referee on the lists (that the project was going to be highly controversial emerged in the first public outreach meeting in Sept 2012).
Some of my experience promoting civility came from decades of managing a variety of email lists.
My introduction to the difficulties in maintaining civility came from involvement in politics while in college and graduate school in the 1970s. I had to deal not only with the normally contentious academics, but ideologues and bullies of both the Left and the Right: multiple antagonistic varieties of Marxists, Young Americans for Freedom ?
4. The so-called Environmental Services Center which was a trash sorting and transfer station that the advocates want to build in the Baylands and rent to Waste Management Inc, which was then Palo Alto's incumbent trash collector. (more info from my personal archive).
5. The site had been a tree care company before the area became part of Palo Alto and reportedly there had been many minor spills and possibly some major ones.
6. 195 Page Mill, between Park Blvd and the Caltrain tracks. The congestion is the backup on Park for the on-ramp to Oregon Expressway.
7. This referred to a practice where projects would come before Council for a preview, and Council member would praise many aspects of the project. The developer would understandably take this as approval for the course he was taking. A year or so later, the developer would come back for final approval and Council members would express strong disapproval of significant aspects of the project but then approve it anyway, saying that it was unfair to the developer to have to make major changes (to what Council members were purportedly thinking but not saying during the preview).
8. A perversion of the Daniel Patrick Moynihan admonition "Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but they are not entitled to their own facts."

----Appendices----


Palo Alto Online Election Central
?City Council
?School Board

Midpeninsula Community Media Center: Election Coverage: videos including forums

Campaign Websites (alphabetically)

Palo Alto City Council
?Tom DuBois
?Eric Filseth
?John Fredrich
?Karen Holman
?A. C. Johnston
?Lydia Kou
?Seelan Reddy
?Greg Scharff
?Nancy Shepherd
?Cory Wolbach
?Mark Weiss (part of his general blogging site)

Unaware of website for Wayne Douglass.

Palo Alto Unified School District
?Jay Blas Jacob Cabrera
?Gina Dalma
?Ken Dauber
?Catherine Crystal Foster
?Terry Godfrey

----
The Guidelines for comments on this blog are different from those on Town Square Forums. I am attempting to foster more civility and substantive comments by deleting violations of the guidelines.

I am particular strict about misrepresenting what others have said (me or other commenters). If I judge your comment as likely to provoke a response of "That is not what was said", don't be surprised to have it deleted. My primary goal is to avoid unnecessary and undesirable back-and-forth, but such misrepresentations also indicate that the author is unwilling/unable to participate in a meaningful, respectful conversation on the topic.

Comments

 +  Like this comment
Posted by Guy_Fawkes, a resident of Old Palo Alto,
on Oct 14, 2014 at 10:05 am

Guy_Fawkes is a registered user.

Timely issue and well stated. I'm definitely starting to hear ugly ... things spread about the candidates. Some of these things are obviously untrue and easily checked, such as who's donating to campaigns. This is all public and can be checked by anyone here Web Link

In the 2000 election, Liz Kniss was found to violate her ethics pledge, thought the ruling came AFTER the election was over Web Link

That's the insidiousness of this issue - the bullies often win, even if they get their wrist slapped later.

[[From the blogger: the ellipsis ("...") above is me deleting a specific subclass of "ugly". I did this because it was vague and was likely to produce nothing but purely speculative follow-ons. This decision is part of the difficult problem of dealing with claims of "whisper campaigns".
]]


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Eric F, a resident of Downtown North,
on Oct 14, 2014 at 1:25 pm

Guy,

I've heard that I'm a Tea Partier, that I'm a Republican, that I've taken money from the Koch Brothers!, and that I hate bike infrastructure and Safe Routes to School -- me, the die-hard cyclist with kids who bike to school. (None of the above is true, btw, except the cyclist with kids part at the end)

I haven't heard anything really nasty yet though; have you?


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Douglas Moran, a resident of ,
on Oct 14, 2014 at 1:50 pm

From the blogger:
Although whisper campaigns are a (negative) part of discourse, I would encourage commenters to focus on the conduct of the public discourse, including how the candidates (if elected) might make it more open, fair and honest.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by mjc, a resident of Evergreen Park,
on Oct 14, 2014 at 8:40 pm

Thank you for the excellent article.

Although I was not in any way involved, I happened to be in council chambers when the former tree care company site was being discussed and became aware that the planning department was an advocate for the developer. Not only did the planning staff member assigned to the application misrepresent the situation when questioned, after the decision was postponed she went up to him, put her arm around him, and said, "Don't worry, we will get it passed for you next time." Completely ignoring the testimony of neighborhood residents who had raised legitimate questions about the planning department's bias. Up until then I had been just your usual naive Palo Alto resident who trusted the people running the city did not abuse their power.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Greenacres, a resident of Green Acres,
on Oct 14, 2014 at 10:49 pm

Have you seen this TED talk? Dare to Disagree:

"Most people instinctively avoid conflict, but as Margaret Heffernan shows us, good disagreement is central to progress. She illustrates (sometimes counterintuitively) how the best partners aren't echo chambers -- and how great research teams, relationships and businesses allow people to deeply disagree."

Web Link


 +  Like this comment
Posted by village foool, a resident of another community,
on Oct 15, 2014 at 1:36 am

Thank you for paying attention to this issue.

Seems to that Palo alto online's view of civility may be one of the reasons, or excuses for many occurrences of censoring for view point.

I mentioned civility many times, the following are just a few samples (I removed the links since "too many URLs in the comment"):

1.
"...I think that there are several issues keeping the occurrences that concern you below the public's radar. Writing it all is way beyond of any online post.
You mentioned Civility. It seems to me the civility is in the "eye of the beholder". I think that being "civil" in this area goes many times hand in hand with being very articulate. Also, being able to obtain the services of private lawyer helps "maintain" the notion that those who are not very articulate, who speak up, may not be that civil.

I think it is important to keep in mind that your experiences may be totally different from those accumulated by an "uncivil" parent. Many times being "uncivil" implies economically weakness, or other "otherness".
Copied from -

2.
".. May I suggest to try to imagine, for example, a hypothetical situation: What would be consequences faced by Minorities - African American/Hispanic/Tongan, from EPA, studying in Palo Alto High if they were the ones caught damaging Gunn new track throwing eggs, part of a "group activity tradition"?
Would anyone argue that consequences were too harsh?"

@Moderator - I do hope that my comment above conforms with the current rules of civility, the law of the land. my comment above remained intact when i posted. This comment remained intact when i posted..."
Copied from -

3.
"..I'll try to present soon in my blog my belief that this issue is not disconnected from other occurrences which, for example, are rattling the schools. The same issues which especially impact those who are not considered to be "civil", in an area which prides itself on being diverse.

And here's again, to the rules of civility from another time - Web Link
"


And BTW - I started a blog so I could have a place where the uncivil me will not be deleted. It so happens that I also used the "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it" by George Santayana quote on my post here - - Web Link

I have dedicated a page to censoring occurrences - comments Before & After censoring. Link - Web Link


 +  Like this comment
Posted by mrs doasyouwouldbedoneby, a resident of Adobe-Meadows,
on Oct 15, 2014 at 7:38 am

Do unto others as you would they do unto you


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Mark Weiss, a resident of Barron Park,
on Oct 15, 2014 at 9:49 am

I was told by a prominent Barron Park citizen not to rebut Doug Moran or risk a physical confrontation and that he might lose control and physically affront me.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by The facts, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Oct 15, 2014 at 10:03 am

Here you go, mark

Web Link


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Douglas Moran, a resident of ,
on Oct 15, 2014 at 2:29 pm

The comments by Mark Weiss and "The facts" are an excellent example of how dirty and vicious Palo Alto politics can be. In early 2005 (January-April), I was regarded as a leading candidate for City Council and this smear took me out of the race.

Fully and critically read the *full* article cited on "The facts" Web Link -- my comments on this below.
And then for the political angle read the follow-up article "A sign of things to come?" (2005 June 01) (Web Link).

Notice the absurdity of the allegation:
1. An independent witness directly contradicted the developer's claim of a contentious situation leading up to this. Anticipating questions of bias by the witness, she (Maryanne Welton) is an architect who works on large development projects. Not included in the article was Welton's statement that I had been such an effective and impartial moderator that the developer didn't know where I stood on his proposal: Immediately before the City hearing, he asked me to support his proposal.

2. The supposed reason that I was so angry with the developer as to seek his "assassination" (the word use in the police complaint) was that the residents' group, of which I was part, had WON an effectively complete victory before Council two months earlier (reported in the article). So I was a "sore WINNER"?

3. The Weekly article reports my statement that I didn't know information that was at the core of what I allegedly said. The allegation says that I knew that the person was terminally ill. The person in question was a Vietnam vet in a wheelchair. He had told me that he was here for treatment at the VA, and I presumed that his treatment related to either his wheelchair or that injury. He was robust, cheerful, energetic. Only later did I learn that he had a cancer that would turn out to terminal. Add to the absurdity: If you were seeking an assassin, would your choice be someone 60-ish in a wheelchair that you had met just minutes before and were talking to next to the street with a people walking by?

4. The timeline, part 1: The alleged incident occurred several days *before* the developer filed a revised application for the project and the police complaint was made several days after the application and I didn't learn of the revised application until several days after that. When we residents eventually saw the revised application, we had only minor concerns about it. Given this sequence, one has to wonder whether the developer's allegations against me weren't intended to exclude me from hearings on his revised proposal.

5. The timeline, part 2: The application for the Temporary Restraining Order was not filed until 10 weeks (late April) after the alleged event and there was no claim of anything happening in the intervening period. After a month of newspaper coverage, the TRO was withdrawn the evening before the hearing for a permanent restraining order. The developer's claim was that his *sole* witness was unavailable. Notice in the newspaper article the claim that there were multiple witnesses.

5. Temporary Restraining Orders (TROs) are granted without hearing from the target. The justification is that either there is no time to arrange a hearing involving both sides because the situation is escalating dangerously or that notifying the target of the TRO would dangerously escalate the situation. The former was not the case (#4 above) and th latter was not the case. First the developer was out of the country (in Israel), as witnessed by the prominent FAX header on his signature sheet in the application. Second, the lawyer handling the TRO application had taken the story to a newspaper (the Palo Alto Daily News under its previous owner) several days before filing with the court.

Might the developer honestly believed he was in danger from me? No. Several days after the TRO expired, I was in front of my house and he stopped by and asked me to have a private meeting with him about his revised application. I told him I couldn't -- that my lawyer had advised me not to have any conversations with him without independent witnesses present. He made several additional attempts to meet privately with me.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by The facts, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Oct 15, 2014 at 2:53 pm

Me thinks Doug that thou doseth protest too much. You call PA politics " dirty and vicious"? You clearly have no clue about what goes on in politics in other venues.
[[Blogger: Ad hominem attack, but I am leaving as instructive about the commenter. That I call this "dirty and vicious" doesn't mean that I don't know that similar things happen elsewhere, nor does it mean that it isn't better elsewhere nor that we shouldn't aspire to be better.
]]
[[Off-topic section removed by blogger]]

As usual with Doug, it is someone else's fault. In this case the developer is " evil" and Doug was the knight in shining armor. Bottom line, if you were such a front runner, your supporters would have bought your story and you would have been on the council. On the other hand, you did not even run, so there must be something to the developers story.

[[Response: I didn't run because the "received wisdom" of the political elite was that I couldn't overcome the smear, and with the "experts" saying I couldn't win, I could not adequately staff a campaign organization, and without that staffing, I couldn't raise enough money to do the publicity to overcome the smear.
]]


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Bill, a resident of Barron Park,
on Oct 15, 2014 at 3:00 pm

[[Removed by blogger: It was an amusing comment, but it was off-topic -- about who to vote for/against]]


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Barron Park resident, a resident of Barron Park,
on Oct 15, 2014 at 9:41 pm

"Civility is widely used as a weapon by those in power to suppress dissent and the consideration of alternates and other perspectives."

From the city council to the school board, time for change!

Also, school administrators who say "It's a big ship and will take a long time for change", as they tightly hold the steering wheel to prevent change, need to be replaced.





 +  Like this comment
Posted by pat, a resident of Midtown,
on Oct 15, 2014 at 10:06 pm

Thanks for stating this ?civility? problem so well.

The denizens of City Hall pride themselves on their version of "civility." I?d much rather they took pride in questioning reports and presentations, seeking truth, respecting the Brown Act and other transparency laws, and making good decisions based on hard data.

When Hillary Freeman was on the city council, she was visibly disrespected (sneers, eye-rolling)by fellow council members because she asked "too many" questions ? pertinent questions that residents appreciated.

Nancy Shepherd said she wouldn?t be ?bullied? into making an architect conform to existing height limitations (3159 El Camino). She apparently thinks residents who want their elected representatives to follow the rules are bullies.

Several years ago, then-Mayor Jim Burch stopped a speaker at a council meeting because the speaker was ?criticizing the city manager.?

Larry Klein doesn?t read the comments on Palo Alto Online because they are ?vitriolic.?

I?m told that a few years ago a new council member was admonished by one more senior for not providing thanks and praise to every staff member who made a presentation. I guess substance/content is irrelevant ? just making a presentation deserved a trophy.

Anyone who dares question or criticize City Hall is labeled a naysayer, NIMBY, curmudgeon or worse. Once branded in this way, staff and council members dismiss whatever you say.

I?m not advocating for shouting matches, but all the false sweetness-and-light ?civility? stands in the way of honest discourse. Some people speak with intensity and passion ? which is not the same as yelling. Some people speak softly, but carry big truths.

However we speak, we deserve to be heard ? especially if we have ideas that differ from the standard party line.

I sure hope we get some new councilmembers who

- aren?t afraid of challenges and disagreement

- demand accountability from city staff

- recognize that "The council shall appoint the city manager, clerk, attorney and auditor, who shall serve at its pleasure." (City Charter Article IV, Section 1)

- pay attention to ALL residents, even the naysayers, NIMBYs and curmudgeons who often have ideas worth pursuing.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by david schrom, a resident of Evergreen Park,
on Oct 18, 2014 at 10:05 am

Thanks, Doug. For more than forty years I've witnessed how powerful people in Palo Alto have used calls for "civility," "reason," "compromise," etc. to further the agenda that has resulted in a noisier, dirtier city with more heavily trafficked and more frequently congested streets, less adequate and well-maintained infrastructure, less secure residential neighborhoods, and less resident power to shape the city's future. We are indeed being bullied. I wonder how many of us tolerate this because we expect that our appreciating homes will, when sold, be means to escape to places more like the Palo Alto of forty years ago.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace,
on Oct 19, 2014 at 11:07 am

Doug, I take your general point...insisting that everybody be nice is a tool of those in power.

One of your examples caught my eye:

>For example, affordable housing is one of several issues where for many of the advocates it goes beyond ideology to being treated with near religious fervor. Not surprisingly some of those advocates are quick to demonize anyone who simply raises questions about their proposals.

A very true statement on your part. Since secular religious zealots (it is not an oxymoron) will condemn you as a sinner or apostate for opposing subsidized housing, one just needs to get used to it, even enjoy it. An adult can only get bullied, if he/she accepts it. However, I think the bullying issue is a side issue. Perhaps the most effective way to counter power is to allow the citizens to override it. Measure D did this in spades. The entire issue of subsidized housing in Palo Alto should be put on the ballot, as a referendum...and our city council should put it there.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Ugly carpet in city hall, a resident of Evergreen Park,
on Oct 20, 2014 at 10:07 am

Another example of the effect of so-called civility: it would be impolite to describe the new carpet in the council chambers as ugly. But it is.
The city manager has been given millions and millions to renovate the main floor of city hall but this example indicates he is not competent to do this expensive project.
Yes taste may be in the eye of the beholder but several people have said privately, it's UGLY.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Douglas Moran, a resident of ,
on Oct 20, 2014 at 6:53 pm

RE: Craig Laughton: "An adult can only get bullied, if he/she accepts it.

I disagree. Consider a meeting where the person is demonized in front of a hundred of their neighbors and other acquaintance and those running the meeting allow them no chance to respond. Or worse, when it is a Commission or Council meeting and the audience includes not just those present, but those watching on cable TV and the Internet.

They are suffering dual blows, both the attack on his/her reputation itself and the attack on the concern/perspective/... that is dismissed by the ad hominem attack, ignoring the merits.

Recognize that "bullying" is not used to describe a single act of aggression or intimidation or dominance, but a pattern (badgering) of lesser forms of such behavior that wear down the resistance of the target.

"Bullying" seems an entirely appropriate word to describe a behavior that discourages residents from further participation.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Jerry Underdal, a resident of Barron Park,
on Oct 21, 2014 at 5:38 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

[[Deleted by blogger: He is a well-known, long-established troll.]]


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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