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The method of “Save our City! Alameda”

As detailed by Lauren Do over at Blogging Bayport, David Howard, chief of Save our City! Alameda, the group that is advancing the argument that the City of Alameda is on the edge of bankruptcy (as part of an effort to side-line plans for development at Alameda Point), took this quotation from a letter from Fire Chief David Kapler about cuts to fire department overtime:

Setting aside history, the current economic situation (local, state and federal) is what is forcing this move. If the city does not adjust spending, it would be facing bankruptcy in as little as 36 – 48 months. If that were to happen the impact to the Department and its members would be much worse than temporary brownouts.

And changed it to this:

the City (is) facing bankruptcy in as little as 36-48 months

And then Save Our City! Alameda blasted the misquote out in a press release. In the real email, the Chief says if we don’t adjust spending we might just face bankruptcy in three or four years. The version put out by Save our City! Alameda, with the word ‘is’ inserted, makes it read like the fire chief is saying bankruptcy is imminent. But, of course, most every institution, public and private, will likely be will be in financial straits if spending is not adjusted as revenue falls.

As I have said before, there are many rational reasons to question the plans for development at Alameda Point, and plenty nuanced discussions that we as a community should be having about what the future can and should look like there, but distorting the fire chief’s meaning in order to advance that cause is–uh? What do you think? And then continuing to do so even when the inaccuracy is documented is further perplexing.

Michele Ellson has the full text of Fire Chief Kapler’s letter, by the way. And Ellson also talked to Mayor Beverly Johnson and David Howard about the issue. The Fire Chief’s direct response is here.

epearlman

  • mike williams

    It is just like any other journalist, cutting and pasting quotes to spin a story. All Journalist do it even yourself. Don’t be a hypocrite!

  • Eve Pearlman

    Leaving aside the question of whether all journalists are ‘cutting and pasting quotes to spin a story,’ I’d say it’s one thing to use someone’s actual words (written or spoken) to support a point or position, and quite another to alter them so as to flip or distort their meaning.