Saturday, September 1, 2007

Pittsford "Damsel" Outed by WXXI

Pittsford, Pittsford, Pittsford ... why is so much happening in a place that never offered political excitement before?

The Brighton-Pittsford Post reported recently on a Michael Slade, who shot video at a Pittsford town council meeting, doctored it and posted it to YouTube.  Finding the taped events too tedious to make council members look bad, Slade added titles and comic music to help matters along. The video features dialogue during a public comment session between the Supervisor and one Gerry Minerd, who the titles describe as a "Damsel in Distress" because of the Supervisor's questions.  Just a guileless, ordinary citizen getting what's claimed to be a hard time.

For all we know, maybe she was. Video snippets can never convey the full story, even if unedited and presented straight.  Beyond that, our view of public comments at government meetings is that they're for members of the public to speak.   The elected officials should be listening, not (for a change) doing the talking themselves.   They're lucky that people can attend meetings and clue them in on some things.

Of course we checked out Slade's video.   The discrepancy between the actual events and superimposed titles made us understand that the real story here isn't about a town council, but about an eccentric with time on his hands.   One YouTube commenter hit it right on the money:

You might as well film a Mayor walking in the town's 4th of July parade with titles saying "The Fuhrer leads his troops against Poland."
That might have been the end of it.   But here on Mustard Street we're early birds.   We caught the WXXI local newscast last Wednesday shortly past 6 am.   Reporting on an anti-war protest in Brighton, WXXI identified the speaker in its soundbite with the following words: "Gerry Minerd is with, a left-wing activist group."

A remarkably candid acknowledgement of ideological motive for public radio, where (to give you WHAM listeners an example) its network reporters refer to the Cuban dictator lovingly as "Fidel."   So remarkable that we wrote it down word-for word when we heard it, recalling the name Gerry Minerd from the YouTube video.

The "Damsel in Distress" was a ringer.

The ringer in a staged performance by a left wing group to evoke a response, any response.   Apparently Minerd and Slade came with a group that arrived together and left together at the close of public comments.   Minerd wasn't just another citizen addressing her town council but a performer, in a piece of street theater choreographed with the person doing the filming.

Ms. Minerd was last heard from in the letters column of this week's City News, praising the "soundness of moral character, uprightness, and honesty," of the only political candidate in the history of Pittsford to have been found guilty, by the Fair Election Practices Committee created by the Interfaith Alliance and the League of Women Voters, of campaign ethics violations -- in this case of lying to voters.

Almost makes even Fidel look good.

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