Sunday, December 14, 2014

John Hammer covering for Greensboro's gerrymandered redistricting; Historical Revisionism

"It’s sad that the News & Record continues to ridicule former City Councilmember and former Guilford County Commissioner Mary Rakestraw for supporting a redistricting map that, when presented to the City Council, passed almost without comment.

The News & Record invented a story about a mystery map appearing on Rakestraw’s front porch...

...The redistricting map was delivered to her house when she wasn’t home.  Did she know who delivered it?  No, she did not.  When she was asked who delivered it she told the reporter she didn’t know.

John Hammer is an amazing liar on this one.

...The News & Record reporter managed to turn this into a story about a mystery map.  There was, in fact, nothing mysterious about the map.  It was what the council had agreed to and had the votes to pass without discussion.

But it is still a mystery as to who delivered it to Rakestraw’s door and the News & Record continues to this day to write about the mystery map, which just goes to show how petty they are."
Jordan Green on Burckley, Vaughan and Matheny: Who told the truth - Zack or Nancy?

"Burckley, a political consultant who contracted his services to the election campaigns of Rakestraw, Matheny, Mayor Bill Knight, Mayor Pro Tem Nancy Vaughan and District 5 Councilwoman Trudy Wade in 2009, left a cryptic cell phone message to YES! Weekly: “It is what it is.”

Vaughan told YES! Weekly earlier today: “My assumption, and I believe it’s true, is that this plan was started by Zack based on the input that he got. When he was unable to finish, Mary finalized it.”

Matheny said he has had an opportunity to speak with Vaughan today and wanted to set the record straight.

"I didn't have anything to do with the Rakestraw plan," he said.

Was the plan called something else when Zack had something to do with it?

...Vaughan said earlier today before speaking to Matheny that her fellow council member had not conveyed to her that the citizens wanted the map to be left alone.

“Not to me,” she said.

I'd like to hear Zack's side of the story,
and have left a couple cell phone messages for him.

Jordan Green
Did John Hammer scapegoat Joe Killian to cover for Mary Rakestraw and/or Bill Burkley among others, for the financial benefit of John Hammer, who may have violated The Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics?

— Clarify and explain news coverage
and invite dialogue with the public over journalistic conduct.

"...Killian also completely mischaracterizes
how Councilmember Mary Rakestraw came to present the redistricting plan
to the City Council in his April 21 article.

...Killian wrote, "the news was another twist that came on a day
when Councilwoman Mary Rakestraw
– who submitted the map the council members approved Tuesday night
– announced she didn't create the map at all: It mysteriously showed up on her doorstep."...

Was Mary misquoted?

—Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived.

— Be vigilant and courageous about holding those with power accountable.

— Deny favored treatment to advertisers and special interests

and resist their pressure to influence news coverage.

How much political advertising revenue
has John Hammer's Rhino Times recieved from Bill Burkley's clients
over the last X years?

Did Rakestraw draw the map? Not on your life.

Did she know exactly who did or who left the map on her doorstep? At the time she didn't.

So was Mary misquoted?

— Remain free of associations and activities that may compromise integrity
or damage credibility.

Rakestraw said she had consulted with city staff and with Burckley about the new districts, and that Gilbert also had to be consulted on election matters.

Why didn't Mary tell Joe Killian what she told John Hammer?

Why is John Hammer using "said"
instead of a direct quote from Mary?

Deliberate distortion is never permissible.

— Diligently seek out subjects of news stories

to give them the opportunity to respond to allegations of wrongdoing.

Did John call Joe Killian for a response?

It turned out the mystery map was done by Burckley,
but it also could have been done by the city staff or the Guilford County Board of Elections.

Was Bill Burckley paid to do the map?

How much have Bill Burckley's clients given the Rhino Times
for advertising during election seasons?

Rakestraw said she didn't know exactly who produced this particular map
and left it on her doorstep,
but that it had all the numbers that those involved had been talking about
and moved the precincts that everyone had agreed needed to be moved.

If Mary was familiar with the numbers on the map,
did Mary lie to Joe?

— Give voice to the voiceless;
official and unofficial sources of information can be equally valid.

— Distinguish between advocacy and news reporting.

— Distinguish news from advertising and shun hybrids that blur the lines between the two.

— Recognize a special obligation to ensure that the public's business
 conducted in the open...

Analysis and commentary should be labeled
and not misrepresent fact or context.

Lying by omission

One lies by omission by omitting an important fact,
deliberately leaving another person with a misconception.

Lying by omission includes failures to correct pre-existing misconceptions.

…Propaganda is an example of lying by omission.


The Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics
"There were some changes on the map
that Councilmember Dianne Bellamy-Small didn't like.

One of them may have been that D.J. Hardy,
who ran in the at-large City Council race in 2009, was placed in her district.

Rakestraw didn't come up with this.

If Bill Burckley has also worked for Skip Alston and Alma Adams...?

...Burckley has advised, researched and designed campaigns
for county Commissioners Billy Yow and Melvin “Skip” Alston
and for state Rep. Alma Adams.

He said last week that he was working for six candidates 
in this year’s City Council elections,
including incumbents Trudy Wade, Mary Rakestraw and Zack Matheny;
at-large candidate Nancy Vaughan; and mayoral candidate Bill Knight.


Did John intentionally create rumors,
as opposed to reporting the existence of rumors?

Did John Hammer bury the Rakestraw Gerrymandering Story in the middle of an article entitled "City Attorney Claims You Can't Phone It In"?

"...Also at the meeting, the council voted 4 to 3 to approve new voting districts that were proposed by Rakestraw. About 18 people spoke against the new districts, which reportedly switch about 32,000 people from one district to another.

From what constituency does the Rhino Times
receive a majority of advertising revenue 
during off year City Council elections?

How much did Mary, Trudy, Bill, Nancy and Zack
spend on ads with the Rhino in 2009?

...The city was not required by law to redistrict, since the districts were all within 10 percent in population of each other. But the population difference between Districts 4 and 5 was 9.2 percent, which made redistricting reasonable if not legally required.

Is John Hammer suggesting that Mary's map is "reasonable"?

Many speakers complained about Matheny, who was not at the meeting and was discouraged from participating by phone. Several speakers said that he had indicated that the city would not be redistricting because it wasn't required by law.

Was Zack for Mary's map, before coming out against it,
after the uproar of disapproval?

Other complaints were about the Lindley Park neighborhood being taken out of District 4, represented by Rakestraw, and placed in District 1, represented by Bellamy-Small. Before the 2008 redistricting, Lindley was, according to speakers, in District 5.

Rakestraw on Rakestraw on Gerrymandering and the Mysteriously Appearing Map with a little Bill Knight, Nancy Vaughan, Trudy Wade, Bill Burckley and Zack Matheny

"...there’s no reason why people shouldn’t be able to get information.

...Some times it’s hard to get information.

Sometimes maybe it’s not convenient, or maybe they don’t want to make it available.

...Maybe they don’t want you to have the information right then.

Councilwoman Mary Rakestraw
— who submitted the map the council members approved Tuesday night
— announced she didn’t create the map at all:
 It mysteriously showed up on her doorstep.

...The plan favors Rakestraw politically.

...Rakestraw — said she isn’t sure who created the map.

...“I have no idea where it came from,” she said Wednesday.

Rakestraw said she went over the plan 
with Councilwoman Trudy Wade
and political strategist Bill Burckley

But if we want the city council people to make the best decisions that we can make
we have to have the facts before us.

We’ve got to have the information.

...We’ve been sued by about everybody, y’all — to get information.

So there is a problem there.

And we need to have that information.

Vaughan...said Councilman Zack Matheny, 
the council’s redistricting liaison,
should have expressed to the council how unpopular the idea was.

“He really didn’t come back to us with anything,” Vaughan said.

...I’ve always been transparent.

Rakestraw’s redistricting map was released by the city Friday night
but did not appear on the agenda.

I’m accessible and I’m available.

I’ve never had a person who said, “I can’t get in touch with you.”

None of those who voted with Rakestraw
— Mayor Bill Knight
 and council members Trudy Wade and Nancy Vaughan
— explained their decisions to the public at Tuesday’s meeting.

Wherever I am, there’s the public, and that’s the way it should be.

Knight did not return repeated calls Wednesday from the News & Record.

Wade was unavailable.

Matheny is distancing himself from the situation.

...he would not say how he would have voted.

That’s what a public official is all about.

And you should always be available to the public when they call you."

Amanda and Joe
Southern Coalition for Social Justice on Mary's Map

"...Allison Riggs, a voting rights and redistricting attorney, said...
"I can't even begin to speculate on what kind of logic the council is using,"

...Riggs said the plan...looks to have been "very carefully designed for political reasons,"

Councilwoman Mary Rakestraw, who submitted the plan,
told the News & Record that the plan appeared on her doorstep one day.

She said she "tweaked" it with help from political strategist Bill Burckley
before submitting it to the city manager.

"I took it to Bill because nobody is better with numbers than Bill," Rakestraw said Wednesday.

It passed on a 4-3 vote Tuesday with no comment or explanation from those who voted for it.

Voting with Rakestraw were Mayor Bill Knight and councilmembers Trudy Wade and Nancy Vaughan.

..."we will be communicating to them about that and about the lack of transparency of this process.

There has really been no explanation of this plan or how it was created." said Riggs"

Could this be a pretty good strategy for some, considering what has already occurred? 

"...Community members expressed outrage
over what they considered political advantages in the plan for Rakestraw
and the council’s lack of explanation for the vote.

Council members eventually said they would reconsider the vote.

Could Bill, Mary, Trudy, Danny and maybe Zack
be most likely prefer to have the election next year?

...Both maps move the area near Four Seasons Town Centre
into Bellamy-Small’s district.

“Dianne has wanted the mall,” Wade said.
“I gave her the mall in hopes we can all vote for this map.”

Does a legitimate reason exist for Dianne getting the mall?

If Trudy is trying to pacify Dianne to achieve a "win win",
who loses?

Has the strategy evolved into diminishing the chances
for challengers of incumbents?

Bellamy-Small’s map moves about 2,200 residents.

She submitted it last week in reaction to Rakestaw’s map.

But the council did not debate its merits.

Did City Council debate the real merits of any map?

The clock is ticking on a redistricting decision.

The council has until May 3 to decide
and get the map to the U.S. Department of Justice for approval.

...the manager's office asked council members
how much public participation they wanted this time around.

In particular, they staff wants to know what kind of software they should use
to redraw the lines -- something that can be used by anyone
or something that is only used by city staff.

The cost could be up to $30,000.

What happened to the computer program?