East Sacramento Preservation Calls for Dialog, Not Personal Attacks

In the November 2011 issue of Inside East Sacramento publisher Cecily Hastings delivered a personal attack on a board member of East Sacramento Preservation.

The board member, Will Green, and Hastings were attendees at a community meeting to meet new city manager, John Shirey.

In a publisher’s comment Hastings portrayed Green as having a callous lack of concern for his community.

ESP, Inc. learned that Hastings quoted Green out of context and that she did not contact him to ask for clarification, or further comment.

Additionally, Hastings identified Green as an East Sacramento Preservation board member, when he attended the meeting as a private citizen.

Moreover, Ms. Hastings added a quote from a third party in her comments, giving the impression that it was part of the dialog at the meeting. It was not.

East Sacramento Preservation, Inc. supports healthy community dialog and supports the free, open exchange of ideas. We do not support inaccurate, misleading characterization masquerading as journalism.

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5 Responses to East Sacramento Preservation Calls for Dialog, Not Personal Attacks

  1. Steve Swindel says:

    I too attended the community meeting with John Shirey. I have read The November 2011 Publisher’s Desk column by Cecily Hastings. I see nothing in her column that portrays Dr. Green “as having a callous lack of concern for his community.” Indeed, if he had a callous lack of concern he wouldn’t have been at that meeting in the first place.
    He did, however, make the statement that was attributed to him. I was sitting quite close to him and heard him quite clearly. It is not taken out of context. It is a valid position one could take. Quoting someone who makes a statement in a public meeting is not even close to a personal attack.
    The column is clearly not a story about the community meeting. It’s not about Dr. Green, it’s not about Craig Powell. It’s discussing our options for keeping our public places open to the public, and safe for the public. It’s journalism. Ms. Hastings had a quote from Dr. Green, she had another quote from Mr. Powell, she put them together and wrote a story. There is no requirement that everyone be at the same place at the same time when practicing journalism. In fact, it rarely happens.
    Journalists also tend to identify people in their stories by their association with some organization. She could have used his professional associations as an identifier, but ESP is more relevant to our neighborhood. It’s just journalism, that’s the way it works.
    I don’t know how strongly Dr. Green holds the opinion he expressed, or if he was merely playing devil’s advocate. But, by making that statement, he helped create a healthy community dialog. Ms. Hastings, as a journalist, and Dr. Green is aware of that, merely recorded his comment and created a free, open exchange of ideas in her column. That’s what journalism is.

  2. Steven says:

    In lamenting that fact that private citizens are called upon to maintain our parks, Dr. Will Green was making a larger point: to surrender the maintenance of public institutions to private operators is a dangerous practice. It could lead to the privatization of these institutions, and this would be tragic. We all know why America is in its present economic difficulties: unregulated, private adventurers corrupted the business process and nearly capsized our financial structure. To blame government for this is fatuous in the extreme. The point Dr. Green made is valid. We should not easily surrender our parks and libraries to private volunteers, particularly those with a political agenda.

  3. Pat Lynch says:

    It was brought to my attention that Cecily Hastings publicly chastised Will Green in her November editorial. She quoted his stated disinclination to work on a park project and identified him with apathetic persons who make no effort to contribute to their communities. Singling him out in this way was mean-spirited and false. It entirely misrepresented his character and ignored the countless contributions he has made to community life. Certainly she knows that Dr. Green is one of the most public-spirited, generous volunteer-activists in East Sacramento.

    She also, in the same “editorial,” described the “mood of the crowd,”(which opposed spending over half a million dollars to study yet another arena) as “cranky.” This is a patronizing and dismissive description, designed to trivialize legitimate opposition to arena spending. In these hard times five hundred thousand dollars might pay for another year of better police or fire protection; we don’t need to squander that money on “studies” for developers.

    The kind of volunteerism I applaud is the kind Dr. Green exemplifies. His leadership during the Mercy expansion process, the money he donated, the time he devoted—all are immeasurable. More recently, he designed and purchased, at his own expense, the traffic flags on H Street which protect pedestrians. Everyone who knows him is aware his openhanded support of worthy causes like Wellspring and other charities. His acts of private kindness and giving are also too numerous to list. To chide such a man, and to suggest he lacks civic spirit is deceptive and unjust. It is very inferior journalism.

  4. Nancy Lipps says:

    I think Will Green is owed an apology from Inside East Sacramento. It’s easy to see how Hastings set him up as an example of bad citizenship. Because he opposed one proposal she exploited him as a model for how not to be. She picked the wrong victim. Literally hundreds of East Sacramentans know Will Green to be first in line when it comes to volunteering for a good cause. We know in our organization that if you want to do something worthwhile you should get Will on your team. There is not a kinder, more energetic, more thoughtful, or more giving person around. He is the busiest man I know and all his involvements are volunteer efforts for others. He’s my idea of an ideal citizen and my respect for him is immense.

  5. Eileen Lynch says:

    How refreshing to read Will Green’s quote in the editorial about volunteering in the parks. I understand his sentiment. I too volunteer in my community but when the government fails to do its job of regulating Wall Street, and politicians continue to pretend that we can enjoy public services without the taxes that pay for them, (which led to this predicament in the first place) then I bristle at being expected to do the work of government. I think he expresses a feeling many of us share, that only “hitting bottom” will make our society realize what’s at stake and take measures to “sober up.”

    It appears, however, that quoting him by name in the context of the whole editorial was a transparent attempt to “name and shame.” You couldn’t have chosen a more incorrect example of someone who doesn’t want to pitch in for the common good. Will Green has given countless hours and dollars of his own time and money to multiple community organizations to improve the quality of life for all of us. He’s an exemplary citizen and neighbor, the kind of person who will drive an elderly neighbor to appointments. For him to be singled out as one who sits back and does not contribute is laughable, at best.

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