What a difference a couple of weeks make.
Regular readers of The Daily News may recall that in October the newspaper sponsored a forum for candidates to the Galveston Independent School District board of trustees.
We planned an event during which all five candidates vying for two volunteer posts on a community board would introduce themselves, answer some questions and talk a bit about their platforms.
The Daily News on Oct. 12 invited the five candidates. Matthew Hay, the incumbent running for District 5-E, and Johnny Smecca, who’s running for the open 6-F seat agreed to attend and did, in fact, show up at the forum Oct. 22.
Sandra Tetley, Laura Addison and Beau Rawlins declined the invitation and went further by issuing a letter alleging the newspaper and the school district had colluded in an attempt to lure them into participating in a “biased event.”
“We have other issues with this forum but the reasons above are sufficient for us to decline this invitation, or any made in the future, by The Daily News. It would be a horrific error in judgment for us to participate in a forum organized by a group of people that, as we have shown, tried to produce such a biased event,” the three wrote.
“We also believe that the district’s administration is acting unethically in many of their efforts to insert themselves into this election process. Some might say that they are doing their best to manipulate the voters.
“In the era of social media, masses of people are a click away. Each of us can be reached, questioned, vetted and interviewed in a moments time — and we welcome that.”
All of which was silly and insulting to both the professional journalists at The Daily News and to Betty Massey, who helped organize the event, and probably over the years has done more to promote education in Galveston than any three other people combined.
And none of it would be worth another mention except for one thing we just can’t let pass.
Despite the disdain the three claim to have for the newspaper — you know, when much better forums exist on social media — they have been rather prolific in rallying their supporters to submit letters to the editor extolling their virtues as candidates.
For the record, the editors would have felt, and in fact have been, absolutely justified under the circumstances in spiking every last one of those letters.
We’re not going to do that, of course, because we’re a newspaper and not some two-bit social media venue. Instead, we’ll publish as many of them as we can cram into the paper over the next couple of days. We’re compelled by our own long-standing ethical standards to do that. Some will be familiar with those, and some won’t be.
We also feel justified in stating bluntly what these incongruous facts say to us:
What we have here are three people who want to manipulate rather than participate. We have three people who enjoy dropping half-baked allegations about community institutions and then hiding rather than having to defend those allegations in a forum they don’t control themselves.
In short, campaigning by these three, particularly by Addison and Tetley, has been to politics what a drive-by shooting is to honorable combat.
• Michael A. Smith