Friday, February 18, 2011

Q the Eye/02.18.11

Dear LakeCountyEye,

I thought running on a slate for village board was supposed to be easy -- I was told to just ask everyone at the community senior center pilates class to vote for me. No one ever said I'd be asked questions about roads and property taxes and stuff. Now the Daily Herald sent me a questionnaire with really hard questions. What's a TIF district? Help!

Civic Newbie

Dear Greenhorn Party,

Ha ha, every candidate lives in dread of the hour when the Daily Herald questionnaire uncoils slowly from the campaign office FAX machine. The contents of the Herald questionnaire have been known to give even the veteran office-seeker reason to pause.

Your LakeCountyEye recalls one hapless candidate who responded to the Herald with a questionnaire answer-key. To make matters worse the answer-key was addressed to a campaign op in Springfield. To make matters worse Springfield Missouri.

As sad as that story seems, even sadder was the office-seeker who accidentally attached their carry-out lunch order to the questionnaire response. When the Herald asked ...
What portion of the budget should be earmarked as pay-raises for elected officials?
the candidate replied ...
The Whole Enchilada.
This story, which was confirmed by independent reliable sources, is no-doubt apocryphal.

The reason newspapers send out these pre-election questionnaires is to save them the time and expense of pursuing actual reporting. They can look for mistakes in the replies and engage in gotcha journalism -- questionnaire errors become headline-worthy scoops. This is one way to do investigative journalism without having investigative journalists on staff.

Don't make the mistake made by one not-quite-full slate of local candidates; instead of responding individually to their Herald questionnaires, these three office-seekers collaborated and submitted identical answers. They were under the ill-advised impression that since they were running as a single slate of candidates they were expected to answer the questionnaire as a single slate. The story reported the next day in the Daily Herald was, naturally enough ...
LZ candidates copy answers on questionnaire
If you want your LakeCountyEye's advice, take that Daily Herald questionnaire and run it thru the office shredder. No one reads newspapers any more. And those that do are looking for the Walgreen's discount-of-the-week, certainly not for political endorsements. If the Herald does endorse your opponent, post them and angry note demanding to know why they never sent you a questionnaire. End of problem!

If you are an elected official, or a previously elected official, or just a private citizen under indictment, send your political questions to Q the Eye c/o ...


Bystander said...

Time-honored method of responding to newspaper endorsements: If you get endorsed, you pull out the best quotes and splash them all over your website and your last-minute mailer. If your opponent is endorsed, you either (a) say, "Nobody reads that rag anyway" or (b) pull out the one meager compliment the endorsement threw your way and splash it all over your website and your last-minute mailer.

Barney Baxter said...

hi Bytander,

True enough.

BTW, the Herald's latest questionnaire gotcha ...

Island Lake candidate not a chamber member — yet