TSJ pointed out that some of the questions I posed in the "Mayoral Forum" were biased. Specifically, he suggested that the following questions suggest a point of view:

1. Is Great Falls' City Government broken? Why or why not? If so, what do you propose to do to fix it?
2. Should the City of Great Falls be in the electric utility business? Why or why not? If not, what will you do as Mayor to extricate the City from the utility business?
3. Should the City of Great Falls continue its investment in the Highwood Generating Station? Why or why not? If not, what will you do as Mayor to extricate the City from the Highwood Generating Station?

His point was that my follow-up questions could just as easily have been framed differently. For example, as follows:

2. Should the City of Great Falls be in the electric utility business? Why or why not? If so, what will you do as Mayor to ensure that the City continues in the utility business?

His is a fair criticism, and I should have framed the questions more carefully. I do not agree, however, with his second point that the bias in the questions "makes it difficult to explain contrary views." The candidates are, presumably, able to read and write the English language. I am not certain how a question can limit a candidate's ability to formulate a cogent response.

Be that as it may, though, I owe and hereby offer the candidates an apology. While it may not always seem like it, I try hard to be fair here. And I promise that I will make sure to spend extra time to fairly consider the candidates' responses to the questions.



WolfPack said...

Geeguy- Have you quit beating your wife yet? Why or why not? If not, what will you do as a husband to stop the abuse?

Does the bias in my question make it difficult to explain a contrary view?

GeeGuy said...

First, I think the questions I asked are factually distinguishable from yours. (By the way, your effort to use the old law school standby, "What time did you go up that hill to beat your wife," is close, but misses the mark.)

I did not ask:

How will you fix a broken city government?

Granted, though, as I freely admitted in the post, the follow up questions evidenced a bias. Thus the post.

Second, I think I can still explain a contrary view: "I have never beat my wife, therefore I cannot "quit" beating her. The balance of your question, therefore, is meaningless to me." Is that so hard?

Third, I apologized. What the hell more do you want? These people are politicians (or want to be) and you expect them to shrink from a point of view?

WolfPack said...

I don't expect them to shrink from a point of view but I also don't expect them to volunteer for a beating. If only one question showed bias I would agree with you but 3.5 out of 7 are arguably anti-Stebbins and essentially revolve around the same topic. There are many intelligent people in Great Falls who are in favor of HGS in concept. The issues you have brought to light concerning the quality of Lawton’s management of HGS are troublesome and need to be addressed. Lawton has been around for more than a decade longer than the current Mayor and he enjoys the support of the four other commissioners who ran on the pro-Lawton plank so laying the blame for Lawton at the feet of Stebbins is a little off the mark. Stebbins narrowly beat a pro-Lawton incumbent and was elected along with two pro-Lawton, pro-HGS commissioners so the will of the people is what?

As for your third item “What do I want?”, I want your Mayoral Forum be a success and without the participation of the current mayor it’s value will be limited. I think the breadth of your readership is greater than one would be lead to believe by those who actually post but the people who post are the ones who set the tone. This is unintentional I’m sure but over the last few months LK, in opinion and tone, has become the poster child for ECW posters. Practically this increases the need for you as moderator (as opposed to advocate) to use extra effort to maintain the perception of balance when soliciting outside participants. This may require co-sponsoring with someone like David who is has a reputation for his non-confrontational style and may have a different level of flame filtering.
I like your efforts with ECW so don’t take any of my comments too negatively I mean them constructively.

Anonymous said...

Come on... "without the participation of the current mayor it’s value will be limited."

That is a bit of a s t r e t c h.

Stebbins is, allegedly, a big girl. If she is, allegedly, able to take on LK, she ought to, allegedly, be able to take on a few biased questions.

The value of this ECW Mayoral Forum is not weighted upon Ms. Stebbins participation. It is her value being measured as she chooses to participate (or not) in this forum.

Hear, Hear! Mr. GeeGuy!

GeeGuy said...

Wolfpack, I guess we can agree to disagree. I think that three of the follow-up questions show a bias on my part.

Two of these follow-up questions relate to the City's involvement in the electrical utility. While they might demonstrate a bias, they could also be said to be legitimate questions directed toward anti-ECP candidates. In other words, it's easy to be "against the coal plant", but have these people really given any serious thought to just what will need to be done to effect change?

Likewise, the first follow up question again seeks to obtain concrete responses about proposed solutions.

Could I have drafted these the other way? Sure, but they still would have been biased.

Believe it or don't, but they were not intended as Dona Stebbins hit pieces, any more than this blog intends to simply attack her. (Whatever you think about my questions, don't you think "a beating" is a bit of an overstatement?)

You might recall that I supported Dona Stebbins in her race to become Mayor. Have I disagreed with her? Of course. But someone who agrees with you on 90 out of 100 things is not your enemy.

Also, the comment section is a forum. I know you don't care much for LK's posts and, frankly, neither do I. Lately though, he has toned things down substantially. We discuss significant local issues. Strong opinions are expressed, sometimes more artfully than others.

But Wolfpack, there are some real serious questions being bandied about on this blog, including mine, whether in nice language or not.

Nobody needs to apologize for that.

Anonymous said...

Why attack a poster and ignore the message? Good grief folks, lets get past the individual comments and focus on the problems that need fixing.

Choose your own manner of speech and live by it, but don't expect others to follow if you hold yourself up as the only true standard. That's sure to start a fight.

Let's stay on topic and not worry about pumping egos or protecting others that may have thin skins. If office seekers come or not, they will exact the price from the voters that visit here.

I respect the office as part of our system as should the office holder. Those in office do have a tough roll, however they must earn honor and respect. They made the choice to run and surely knew the territory.

The automatic honor clause was tossed out with the king.

Anonymous said...

I voted for Dona Stebbins because I thought she was tough and smart. I cannot believe she would avoid a debate with some idiot right-wing blogger.


GeeGuy said...

Hey! Who are you calling "right wing?"

WolfPack said...

Geeguy- I didn’t mean that Stebbins would be beat up by you but by the numerous posters who continually make Hitler, Nazi, Fascist, primadonna, stupied etc… comments when speaking about the Mayor. What serious adult tries to sway opinion this way? I know you well enough to know that even when you have a bias you try to be polite.
Agree to disagree may be the best we can do. And now for my follow up question. If the city had no part in HGS other than selling industrial water at market prices and collecting substantial tax revenues, would you be in favor of the project? Or don't your Rush Limbaugh talking points tell you what your opinion is on that?

GeeGuy said...

Rush Limbaugh talking points? Rush has weighed in on the coal plant? And the local stations don't even carry him anymore...

No, I would not be in favor of the plant. Selling the water for this plant eliminates our ability to sell that same water for a project that might have a greater benefit to our community. I do not think we should buy pollution for tax dollars; I think that is short sighted. I think this plant will harm our City's image. I am not certain exactly what arrangement we will have with HGS; thus I am unsure what, if any, benefits it will ultimately hold for our citizens. I think Electric City Power has proven to be a bad idea for our community and I think we lack the competence to manage it well.

That's a start. I don't think Rush raised any of those points.

WolfPack said...

The Rush dig usually gets under the skin of any thinking right-winger;).

So if you were managing Stebbins’s campaign would you advise her to accept an invitation to debate at a hostile venue? Most politicians would not and have no obligation to do so as has been suggested by others. When campaigning there is no ethical, moral or common sense reason to try to convert the unconvertible.

ECP (Maybe), HGS (Yes) and NWE (no) are very different issues which complicates the discussion. The only common thread that I’m sure we both agree on is that Lawton has handled all of them poorly. Why no question about selection of the new manager which could settle many of our problems.

Your contributors used to cover some of the environmental points (I’m surprised to here you chime in on them) what became of that goofy bastard Hawkeye? I didn’t always agree with him but he made me laugh.

a-fire-fly said...

I'm not quite sure what you two are arguing about anymore, but I would like to point out that in the last election, Donna Stebbins was asking some hard questions, and asking for answers.

Didn't she say that's kinda why she ran for office? And now, regardless of who we are asking the questions of, she should be the last person to have an objection as to if there is a slight bias in those questions.

She wanted answers to pretty much the same questions a while back, and she may have gotten them in her time as Mayor, but she needs to share.

I don't really care if those questions are biased. Anyone of these people running can look at G and tell him they don't like the question, or give an answer to both sides. I bet Dona would.

And "arguably anti-Stebbins"? Was she never arguably anti-Gray?

This is not powder puff football.

WolfPack said...

FireFly- The argument, in my mind anyway, is how to make the forum happen. Could Stebbins handle herself if forced into the forum, of course. How do you propose we force her? If we can't force her then some concessions have to be made so that she feels there is some net benefit in participating. I think making it more hospitable would help. I keep hearing that she is a big girl and she can take the heat ignoring the fact that she doesn’t have to.

Anonymous said...

The questions posed are reflecting the issues created, ignored or furthered during the current mayoral period. If Stebbins doesn't want to participate,fine, her choice. Those who wish to use it may.

It is not geeguy's place to make this a perfect environment for debate. No such thing exists.

Stebbins has always been quick to "dish it out", now let's see if she can take it. Her choice, no one is forcing her to stay away OR participate.

Anonymous said...

Might I add something to the mix? Look, maybe you'all have heard, but the word on the street is that jonny lotten is jumpin' ship SOONER rather than later. (August maybe?!) Hmmm. This poses a problem. What problem you ask? Well, just WHO in the hell is going to select his replacement! Now, it seems to me that the NEW council and mayor should really make that decision. I mean, as it now stands, jonny lotten will probably recommend, and the council will approve. Stop for a moment and think. WHAT'S WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE? Plenty! So, Gee Guy, if I might be so "vulgar", "impertinent", "racist", "inciting violence", and I forget the others, (help me out here) to suggest that ANOTHER question be added to the debate. Do the citizens of GF REALLY want this particular council to select a replacement for jonny lotten?! I for one say NO! Let's get a new council BEFORE getting new blood! That's all.


GeeGuy said...

"So if you were managing Stebbins’s campaign would you advise her to accept an invitation to debate at a hostile venue? Most politicians would not and have no obligation to do so as has been suggested by others. When campaigning there is no ethical, moral or common sense reason to try to convert the unconvertible."

I don't know if I would or would not, Wolpack. This is not a national election with campaign managers, polling and the like. This is a small town city commission. Mayor Stebbins campaigned on a promise to help citizens become more involved in the process. At the time this "process" was one she used to solicit input from the community.

I have already assured that candidates that I will ensure a civil discourse. Beyond allowing our Mayor to write the questions, I am not sure what else I can do.

While I agree there was some bias in my questions, I apologized for that and assured that I will try to be fair. My questions, though, are hardly so biased as to attack or inhibit the candidates. There is no "perfect" question. I am done apologizing for this.

If Mayor Stebbins chooses to ignore this forum, she is ignoring many people, most of whom I believe will be voting this fall. I strongly disagree with any assertion that the majority of people reading this blog are opposed in total to the current administration. In fact, I would assert that the "breadth of [my]readership is greater than one would be lead to believe by those who actually post."

I know that I certainly have not made up my mind about who I am going to vote for.

WolfPack said...

90% agreed. Never meant to imply an apology was required.

Anonymous said...

Well, I know who I'm NOT voting for.
Now let's see what the other candidates have to say.

Anonymous said...

RE: there is no ethical, moral or common sense reason to try to convert the unconvertible.

Interesting thought. And yet she wants to continue on as Mayor for a second term?

Is there no ethical, moral or common sense reason for her to make an effort to try to reach out to heathens in the community?