The Lake County Leader published my Letter to the Editor after a month-long struggle. It was published today, but not before one final revision was requested.
[For clarity, read Part 1 and Part 2 of ”Polson’s Heart and Soul is all for Show” found on the left side of the blog].
Reporter Bryce Gray wrote: If it’s alright with you, I’d like to make one final change to your letter, specifying that the city of Polson contributes $0 CASH to the project (and only makes contributions in-kind). [Note: the capital letters in the word CASH are his. I wonder if he wanted to capitalize ONLY, but refrained].
My reply: We must be aware that in-kind money is taxpayer money. I honestly see no reason to revise the letter again. [Note: In other words, no, it is not alright with me].
Mr. Gray was not ready to concede: Please understand that I just want to avoid printing anything that is potentially misleading. [Note: I agree with this concept and sincerely hope this is a new standard for the Lake County Leader and will be applied fairly and equally].
My final revision kept the original sentence: What the story did not report is that Polson and GPCF will commit up to $140,000 in cash and in kind. [and added this next sentence] The Polson contribution of $40,000 in-kind = taxpayer money and GPCF contribution is $60,000 cash and $40,000 in kind.
This three part trilogy “Polson’s Heart and Soul is all for Show” is now complete. The final version is here:
I am writing to point out some untrue and misleading statements in the July 10 Leader story: Heart and Soul Seeks Community Involvement. I wrote to reporter, Bryce Gray, about my concerns and he suggested I write a letter to you. Let me start at the beginning. The grant agreement between the city of Polson, Orton Family Foundation, and Greater Polson Community Foundation (GPCF) is not clear. Polson’s city attorney referred to it as “murky.” The commissioners gave their approval despite the public asking to wait allowing time to investigate. Therefore, because the agreement and goals were vague, local citizens began to research. We now know this is not a “bottom up” project. Also, the backing of $100,000 is one of the story’s misleading statements. Yes, Orton will provide “up to” $100,000. What the story did not report is that Polson and GPCF will commit up to $140,000 in cash and in kind. The Polson contribution of $40,000 in-kind = taxpayer money and GPCF contribution is $60,000 cash and $40,000 in kind. Darlis and Daniel Smith will receive $64,000 for their part-time work over the two years of the grant (Orton and GPCF share this responsibility). Daniel stated the “vocal minority [is] actually from outside the community.” Blatantly false. The most troublesome discovered aspect is the deceitfulness Orton encourages. The training held in Chicago instructed attendees to “[practice] their project’s ‘elevator speeches’ … rather than jumping straight to the nitty-gritty of the project description.” The article stated that Darlis and Daniel “are intent on reaching out to all the area’s residents.” From the Chicago training they were instructed to understand “on whom they needed to focus engagement efforts.” When a group of local residents requested to meet and have a discussion with GPCF grant signer, Penny Jarecki, the Orton Foundation produced four pages of instructions on “how to deal” with us. In summary, our research shows the objective is already determined, but it is doubtful it will be clearly stated publically. The “Heart and Soul” is all for show.