The logo of the Concurrent is a typewriter. I chose this for two reasons. As previously mentioned, these columns are based on George Will’s style of 750-word, twice-weekly commentary, which Will began writing for the Washington Post in 1974 - before the dawn of the personal computer.
The other reason is an ever-present reminder that the Concurrent’s content is rooted in the tradition of print journalism, even though the mission of the Concurrent is to provide a multimedia approach in that content’s delivery to the public.
Recently though, after a week of sweeping up multiple messes created in the Chronicle’s Facebook comments section, it may be more appropriately changed to a broom. This is a joke, of course, since not all of the misinformed comments were the fault of the Chronicle and the Concurrent has had (and will continue to have) its own share of missteps to be swept as well.
Correcting the misinformation does serve to demonstrate another mission of the Concurrent which is to be an additional layer of explanation, usually depicted visually such as in graphics, to supplement the Chronicle. We want to be a complement, not a competitor.
Despite the monthly print editions (which we call periodicals, not papers) being delivered this week, I don’t consider the Concurrent a newspaper nor do I feel professionally bound by journalistic standards. Yet an often repeated phrase I heard just last week was, “it’s nice to have something so objective.”
The comment could be as contradictory as a typewriter symbolizing a multimedia outlet. After all, a transparently opinion-based outlet is going to have some degree of bias involved. It is a sentiment echoed by many however yet it strikes me as odd every time.
I’m not self-righteous enough to claim something like “the Concurrent is biased toward the truth!” but I do think classifying these columns as objectively-opinionated is fair.
The best way to be objective and opinionated is to create narratives about the key figures in local public life, but ground these narratives with verifiable evidence.
The rest of this column will serve as an example.
Commissioner Holly Davis has a remarkably similar governing style to Commissioner Jimmie T. Smith, who she beat 63.48% - 36.42% in the 2020 universal primary.
Commissioner Davis took a trip a few months ago for a Prosperity Citrus conference that the Board felt wasn’t official commission business. The commission has since passed a resolution supporting the mission of Prosperity Citrus, which demonstrates what determines what is and isn’t county business.
The discussion in the fallout over the disagreement about the trip led to changing the travel policy of the commissioners; a policy that had not been amended since it was changed to address the travel of Commissioner Smith who would attend conferences also not thought to be county business.
After the travel incident but prior to the resolution being signed, Commissioner Davis again fell out of the good graces of her colleagues when it was determined she may have directed staff to assist up to 110 hours worth of work toward a Prosperity Citrus project.
The second portion of the Prosperity Citrus resolution that was discussed at the following meeting struck down a provision that would have allowed this action to continue and denounced the fact that it had occurred at all.
This type of commissioner involvement in the work of county staff is strikingly similar to when Commissioner Smith called for the firing of a department head. The actions here differ on the surface but have the same root cause of why they are wrong: they are a commissioner overstepping bounds of staff involvement.
Most recently in Tuesday’s meeting, Commissioner Davis was critical of the administrator, as Commissioner Smith often was. She was met with such swift and fierce retaliation from Chairman Carnahan that she left the meeting momentarily, although the two could have been unrelated.
Commissioner Kitchen, who himself was absent from covid exposure, continued to chastise the empty chair in her absence for the comments. The exchange was reminiscent of numerous run-ins Commissioner Smith had with his colleagues, particularly those two.
The cliche “the more things change, the more they stay the same” may apply to the commissioners we elect as much as it does to media outlets having biases.
The Concurrent will be no different. But we will do our best to be objective in our opinion, thought-provoking and honest with the narratives we offer and, of course, swift with our broom to sweep up when wrong.