Niagara Gazette

March 3, 2014

GUEST VIEW: Political spin can distort reality

By Paulette Glasgow
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — Political spin like addictive drugs tend to distort reality. And though political spin isn’t addictive, it does tend to give you a giant headache, and leave you with a burning desire for truthful disclosure of the facts. Distorted facts are a byproduct of political spin. Nowhere is this more evident than former Lewiston Republican chair Bob Ciszewski’s characterization of those involved with the oversight, management and spending of Lewiston’s finances as “good stewards of public finance.”

Anyone who reads the 2011 comptroller’s audit report and comes away believing the public finances of the Lewiston taxpayer was overseen and spent properly is not only distorting reality but playing fast and loose with the facts. The audit report clearly states these gentlemen failed to exercise their fiduciary responsibility causing thousands, maybe, hundreds of thousands of public finances to be mismanaged, misused and misspent. Had these gentlemen exercised good fiduciary authority the town wouldn’t have installed 44 questionable drainage projects, 662 gallons of unleaded fuel wouldn’t have been stolen, the town’s procurement policy would have been advertised and awarded properly resulting in a surplus of hundreds of thousands of dollars, the FBI wouldn’t have investigated those charged with the management and spending of public finances and the state comptroller wouldn’t be back asking for office space in order to do a forensic audit of Lewiston’s finances. Nearly $2 million wouldn’t have been spent on land we don’t own but to correct a too-long ignored drainage problem at Riverwalk. One hundred thousand dollars wouldn’t have been spent on a pipe dream that was overwhelming defeated. Nearly $1 million wouldn’t have been spent to financially support a public corporation which is in direct violation of the state constitution. Now these good stewards are “rethinking” they might have erred when they approved a 20-year financial obligation to operate and maintain state property. Good stewards of public finance, oh really?

Let me understand this. When public officials go out of their way to deceive the public, somehow I’m committing character assassination? When public officials, through their acts and words, manipulate the budget process creating a taxpayer-funded position for a friend somehow I’m ranting? Let me be perfectly clear. I don’t rant. I do believe the public has a right to know all the facts. I’m passionate about public officials neither occupying nor having a place in public office when they lie and deceive us. The recent departure of one of these stewards could be the opportunity that finally brings honest, open and transparent government to Lewiston rather than the continuation of political cronyism.

As citizens, we should demand truthfulness and honesty from all those involved in public service. Honesty and truthfulness reveals an individual’s core values. It tells us about their character and if they should be trusted to represent us and our interests.

In all my public comments my purpose wasn’t to influence public opinion but present all the facts so that the public could reach their own opinion. If along the way facts reveal an individual’s dishonesty and deceit than the public should know.

Sometimes you will agree with me and sometimes you won’t. I’m fine with that because that’s the purpose of democracy and free speech, but I have a problem with political officials when caught with their hand in the cookie jar asking their friends to distort the facts through political spin.

And that’s what Ciszewski or whoever authored his article is attempting to do. Bob, I also am willing to publicly debate the issues facing Lewiston just tell me where we can meet.

Paulette Glasgow is a Lewiston resident.