Today Is Guy Fawkes Day...with lessons still to be remembered AND ACP's Last Day of Publication ~ Annapolis Capital Punishment

Friday, November 5, 2010

Today Is Guy Fawkes Day...with lessons still to be remembered AND ACP's Last Day of Publication

Remember Remember The Fifth of November......If you know the story of "V for Vendetta" or saw the fine film upon which it is based, you'll know what I am talking about. Today will be my last day of publishing Annapolis Capital Punishment. I also ended my long-run as host of 1430 WNAV's "On The Foerfront" with my final scheduled show today. I'm simply tired. That's about it. Time to move on. Do other things.

It won't be easy to not chase down a good story idea and not be able to blog away at it, but I have other things to do. 

Now, enjoy the trailer and the link to the clip of the film below and if you care to read more about my decision, there is more below. Thank you.  Paul Foer aka Annapolis Capital Punishment

Click here to watch what I believe is the most meaningful part of the film:

and now....if you are interested.....

Since February, 2007, after losing a bid to be elected as alderman for the seat vacated by now Mayor Josh Cohen (and for which I must always remind readers--that was the first time he vacated a seat to which we elected him)  I decided to take up blogging by focusing on local politics and government. I've since posted thousands of articles, news pieces, comments, public service announcements and I hope that in some way, it has been of service and of interest to you the readers.

Even before that, in the days before home computing and the Internet, I penned many dozens if not hundreds of letters to the editor of The Capital. In a sense, this is a logical progression of the same spirit of freedom of speech and community activism. But now that Liebling's adage "The power of the press belong to those who own one" has been turned on its head, new journalistic problems and challenges have emerged. This blog has simply been a tiny player in the new media, cyber-revolution and new models are being developed every day.

There have been some high points to be sure and some very difficult times as well but I have always tried my best to remain true to my readers and to the stated goal on the masthead above:

By, for and of the people of Maryland's capital, engaging its citizens to improve our community and ensure honest and effective governance.
I hope that you will agree that this is what I've done. Notice how I said "governance" and not a word about "politics".  I have always said that I don't really like politics. That seems to be the messy way or system in which we get to decides who governs and how, but the goal has always remained to improve governance, to focus on governance. I am saddened that politics continues to hold sway and to creep into every aspect of governance and especially so in Annapolis.

When I ran for alderman, and long before it became the movement it has since become, I advocated for the creation of a council-manager style of government.  When I first started discussing it, many elected officials, activists, supporters and candidates questioned why I made that a major campaign issue. Many ignored the issue yet many of those people now fully support the goal of creating a council-manager form of government. They have come to believe that our "problem" was not just that of one bad mayor anymore. Many of us continue to advance that goal and we may reach it. I believe it is the best way to separate powers and to separate politics from the day-to-day duties of government.

My second major goal was to ensure the vitality of our creeks and rivers.

My third goal was to enact bold and innovative transportation solutions.

I have continued to write about and work on these issues. Perhaps some of the many strident things I have written about our transportation problems and challenges are now accepted by many as being real and factual, though when I first started speaking out, many people discounted and ignored what I had to say. Some thought I was exhibiting "sour grapes" toward the former transportation director or was bitter over my experiences working for that department for nearly eight years. Not at all. I believe that I contributed toward many positive accomplishments while serving as that department's marketing specialist. I went to work every day with the goal of serving our citizens and taxpayers. The strong increases in ridership and revenue vastly outstripped my meager pay. When I left, I walked away from 800 hours of accumulated sick leave and it was returned to city coffers. Other employees were shocked that I did such a thing, but I believed then and now that that was a benefit provided by taxpayers in case I got sick. It was not mine, but was there for me if needed.

Now look what has happened at and what we have learned about that department. I will continue to work on transportation issues as I believe they are paramount and central to our ability to sustain ourselves economically, environmentally and socially.

We have many good elected officials, but few if any great ones. They are all a mixture of good and bad qualities. In other words, they are human. Somehow or another, most of them seem to get caught up in politics and politicking and some almost completely lose sight of the fact that they were elected to govern. If sometimes they need to resort to political means to achieve governmental ends that benefit the citizenry, so be it, but politics as an end unto itself is inexcusable. Focusing on politics rather than the complex issues of governance does not serve "we the people". We must grasp that "we the people" elect and are supposed to hold sway over them, not the other way around. We expect them to tax us lightly, to maintain a small bureaucracy and to spend our money wisely. They are there for us and not the other way around. Uhh, did anybody notice the last election?

By the same token, we must treat them as public servants and try our best to give them the respect they deserve. If you don't believe me, then you should run for office some time just to see what it takes and what you sacrifice and to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous voters. If you don't like the mayor or aldermen or county council members--get out there and get involved or run for office.

Now, on to journalism and blogging before I sign off......

This is a lot of work and although I get more than my fair share of grief, criticism and condemnation from the various local peanut galleries, I am grateful for the support and appreciation shown for what I have been doing from many readers. As traditional journalism and the news media undergo this rapid transformation into what we know not, new modes are developing, sometimes labeled "community journalism". Some of it is admirable. Some of it is garbage...or worse. But "bloggers" and "blogging" should not be bad expressions in and of themselves. We should not be led to believe that all "mainstream" journalism is fair and balanced and accurate, for it often is not. But that is only the goal, a lofty one at that. It is impossible but we must strive for it.

I played a role in exposing the questionable background of Zina Pierre and it had major consequences for our local politics. I broke the story about City Attorney Steve Kling who had been disbarred when Ellen Moyer appointed him and it led to an emergency meeting of the city council. On my way to that meeting, an angry (as usual) Ellen Moyer ran into me and said "Mr. Foer! You must be proud of all the publicity you have gotten for this"  to which I replied, "Do you think I do this for publicity? If you id your job properly, I would not have to be doing mine".  She continued to rail on in her own blog about me, and wrote what I believe was actionable and libelous material which was full of lies and malice, but by that point, not hing much of what she said mattered to anyone.

I called publicly on this blog for her resignation when she ran to a newspaper and labeled citizen activists from her own turf of Eastport as "rhetorical bomb throwers" when we appeared at City Hall with concerns about violence. I also called for Police Chief Joe Johnson to resign for his failure to properly address citizen concerns and fight crime, but he is back in town from retirement working with our housing authority.

I broke the story about how a local Republican activist had used her official role to compare our president to Adolph Hitler. That quickly became a national story and recently, though I was not given any credit, I exposed how David Cordish had offered promises to business leaders in exchange for supporting his proposed casino at Arundel Mills.

ALL OF THOSE STORIES CAME TO MY ATTENTION FROM READERS. I RESEARCHED THEM, AND FOLLOWED UP BUT READERS PLAYED THE DECISIVE ROLE. They were brought to me because readers know I would respect their wish to remain unidentified, because they knew I would report fairly. And while I worked away on these and many other stories while reporters being paid regularly and with benefits missed them, I earned very little money for my efforts.  And when I turned to readers for pleas for support and contributions, I got grief about it from other bloggers. And when I turned to candidates for their ads (considering that the public donated huge gobs of money to them) in order to support what I was doing, some accused me of having a conflict of interest!  But nobody ever stepped forward in a clear way to ever show that I had exhibited any conflict of interest in my stories or coverage. Not one.

Through all of this I have tried to adhere to normative principles of journalism, though my vocal critics will scoff at me for saying so, but I have also not allowed anonymous comments, except in rare occasions. I got a lot of grief about that too, but I stand by my principles and have explained why in enough posts not to repeat it here.  From all the thousands of posts I have written, I have only been questioned for being inaccurate a handful of times. I'm proud of that record and I've published corrections the few times they were needed (One elected official was angry with me and accused me of being inaccurate because I described the color of her luxury car as being black when she said it was navy blue).

I've pissed off and delighted Democrats. I've pissed off and delighted Republicans. I've pissed off and delighted Greens and maybe even Libertarians.  As long as someone is angry at me for something or another at one time or another, I guess I have done a good job.


Gathering and reporting the news is not easy and every day is fraught with ethical and linguistic challenges and choices about what to report, what not to report and how to report upon it. While some bloggers are content to simply spew venom, rail on about something or another, condemn, criticize, point fingers or anonymously (or by allowing or even writing their own "anonymous" comments online) attack individuals, other bloggers or elected officials, I have always stood behind everything I write and of not writing in anonymously elsewhere--even when attacked.  There are some local bloggers who seem to have an almost pathological need to spread hate, make personal attacks and always get the last word on everything. They are to be avoided. We all have the choice to not read them and that is the best way to deal with them. You know who they are. They know who they are. Shame on them. 

A new blog recently appeared and for some reason, almost immediately starting attacking me personally. I never met the people behind it nor did I ever write anything about them. When their handful of rants about me came to my attention months later, I wrote to the apparent writer and asked to meet with him. At first he responded, but then he failed to confirm a meeting time and then ignored my request to communicate with me. I do not like the sound of that at all. Would you? Believe me. I am being circumspect here.

The only thing I can figure is that I have been the victim of such personal attacks because these other writers are either jealous of what I have accomplished, the influence of this blog, or the stories I have covered that they have missed. And I won't be surprised if some of them come out and attack me further based on this message. But it's not my problem.

I've been called everything from a right-wing shill to a left-wingnut. I've been labeled by some as a racist or worse. I've been subjected to hate email and vicious gossip. That's not my problem. That's the problem of those who spread such lies.

George Washington once said that "To persevere in one's duty and be silent, is the best answer to calumny."

I actually first heard that quote used by County Executive John Leopold in his recent campaign and while I don't agree with him in the context of how he used it, the meaning is clear. (Heck--I even had to look the word up as I first thought it was something in my medicine cabinet)

So thank you to my many readers, supporters and advertisers. While there have been some times of frustration and despair, I've mostly enjoyed what I have done here and I hope you have found it useful and informative and yes, even entertaining. While some politicians will no doubt rejoice that this thorn-in-their-side is now being extracted from their usually thick-skins, other politicians and readers will, at least I hope, miss what they have often told me is my fair, balanced, refreshing and bitterly honest.

I hope to continue my column "The Ninth Ward" in The Capital and to put on occasional public forums as I have also done. I want to thank 1430WNAV and The Capital for the opportunities they have provided.

And again, thank you to all my readers. If anyone cares to write in, I'll be happy to publish your comments, but as always, you must identify yourself, and as always, even if you criticize me, you'll get published as long as you are who you say you are. Now please, watch and listen to the second video posted at the top of this article.

It's now time to move on.  Please, stay informed and stay involved. Somebody has to keep those politicians on their toes. Thank you and be well.


READ ACP Publisher Paul Foer's "The Ninth Ward" every Wednesday in The Capital at Identified comments are always welcome. ALL ANONYMOUS COMMENTS will be automatically rejected without being opened.


Big Daddy Mike said...

Thank you. You are a public servant. No one can fault you for putting in your time doing this and no one can fault you for stopping. Good luck.


Eye On Annapolis said...

Paul- I wish you all the best wherever your roads may lead. We rarely saw eye to eye (but that's ok), but no one will deny that ACP was a great resource for the civic-minded folks in Annapolis!


PS--are you also Bud The Blogger at The No BS Zone? He has also hung up his keyboard!

Paul Foer said...

While I thank you for your note,although I am not sure what to make of it. Are you trying to gain points? I must set the record straight. It is not a matter of us seeing "eye to eye" (but that's okay as you say). It was a matter of you writing nasty, false and offensive things about me, accusing me of behaving unethically and of generally acting in a manner that I consider to be less than honorable--not to mention things you said to me. And no I am not Bud The Blogger and even suggesting as such or even for a second believing such a thing is silly at best and an example of your character at worst. How many times do I have to say that I don't write anonymously or under a pseudonym or under false pretenses? A second blog would mean the first was not enough? You started up your blog in a haze and first denied you were involved, then said you were just writing a few things and then said you were actually the publisher. You consistently write in comments to my column at the Capital questioning just about everything I write and you support and possibly even conspire with other hate bloggers. And you continue to allow the son of a powerful, national political figure to write under an assumed name. AND...this is the best bought the domain so it would link to your blog. I would never have written any of this stuff--and I did not as you can see--but your comment--which I have trouble taking seriously,brought me to clarify matters. But thanks for the positive comments.

Nancy Duden said...

Thanks for all your work over the years. I've enjoyed reading the blog (even when I didn't agree with you). Hate bloggers have no place in civil society and ACP never stooped to those levels. Good luck to you.

Paul Foer said...

Nancy and Big Daddy Mike---Thanks to both of you! Keep up the good work and stay involved--and Nancy--I would certainly hope that not you nor anybody always agrees with what I have written--that would mean either we are both nuts or only one of us is doing the thinking! I never expect anyone to agree with me completely. When people like that do their work or succeed, we all suffer.

Unknown said...

Paul...I think this is really your true calling. For what it's worth here's a letter I sent into The Capital...
Last year I wrote to you criticizing your newspaper and imploring you to take a more proactive role in news reporting particularly as it related to the governance of Annapolis. The Capital did not look into Zina Pierre's background and had dropped the ball in its watchdog role during the Moyer regime. Since that letter, I am happy to state The Capital has done a much better job. The reporting of the overtime fiasco and the ineptitude of City Hall has led to better government. I also want to commend you for the hiring of Paul Foer and his Ninth Ward Column. This is the kind of reporter The Capital needs. He reminds me a lot of Mike Royko who spent a lifetime keeping Chicago politicos on their toes. Mr. Foer as a full time reporter would help The Capital move from simply reporting the news to actually breaking the news story. The Capital plays a vital role in the governance of Annapolis and Anne Arundel County. After all, you are the Fourth Estate.
Dan Koerschner
Annapolis, MD

Allen Colhoun said...

Does this mean we get to burn an effigy of you every so often?

See you at the Dirty Buzzard, where ever that was.

Herb McMillan said...

Thanks for your dedicated service.I'm disappointed by your decision to scale back, but I understand it. You covered stories, in your column, blog, and radio show, that the mainstream media ignored, because they didn't fit neatly into their political slant, or required to much effort to research/confirm.We'll miss you.

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