Join 3,442 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Book Burning Party to Save a Library
June 15, 2012 11:39 AM   Subscribe

Award winning campaign saved the Troy, Michigan Library. The library needed to pass a .7% tax increase to stay open. Anti-tax crusaders (*cough* Tea Partiers *cough*) took over the conversation to get it voted down. So, faced with dwindling prospects a group supporting the library worked with an advertising agency to develop a provocative campaign to get the tax increase passed.

It worked - the library got the tax increase to stay open and Leo Burnett got a bunch of awards.

This youtube video explains the campaign in detail.

It wasn't without controversy. The fact that the 'book burning party' campaign was ostensibly run by a group called "Safeguarding American Families" or SAFe and the true intent wasn't revealed until well into the debate has angered some people, especially since it appears no one involved with it worked with or explained the intent to other groups and individuals who were also working to save the library.
posted by Salmonberry (144 comments total) 66 users marked this as a favorite

 
Holy shit. I just figured out why Michael Moore.
posted by R. Schlock at 11:44 AM on June 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Heh. Nice work.
I think we need to see more of this kind of subversive messaging when it comes to getting back control of the discussion on many topics...gay marriage, workers rights, healthcare, etc. The traditional progressive tactics of playing nice really doesn't work so well anymore.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:47 AM on June 15, 2012 [18 favorites]


Smart activism; I like it.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:50 AM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is awesome. Thanks for posting!
posted by The Biggest Dreamer at 11:50 AM on June 15, 2012


Pretty underhanded, but when you consider the funding ad the tactics of the opposition, I can't help but applaud.
posted by Think_Long at 11:52 AM on June 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


This is great!
posted by brundlefly at 11:52 AM on June 15, 2012


I like it too. Certainly deceptive, but borderline. What's the conservative analogue?
posted by mrgrimm at 11:53 AM on June 15, 2012


From one of the YouTube comments:

"Libraries are redundant in this dane age"

Heh.
posted by brundlefly at 11:53 AM on June 15, 2012 [67 favorites]


Sneaky. Misleading. Underhanded.

Genius.
posted by Tomorrowful at 11:54 AM on June 15, 2012 [9 favorites]


I think we need to see more of this kind of subversive messaging when it comes to getting back control of the discussion on many topics...gay marriage, workers rights, healthcare, etc.

At first I really liked this idea, then I thought what our messed up public would do if faced with something analogously sarcastic to a book-burning event for gay marriage/workers rights/healthcare. The sarcasm would be lost, and it would be really disgusting to see.
posted by mcstayinskool at 11:55 AM on June 15, 2012 [6 favorites]


Sneaky. Misleading. Underhanded.

Genius.


Ditto.

This is how you reframe a debate.
posted by LooseFilter at 11:55 AM on June 15, 2012


Yay for the pro-library folks and their tactics.

I'm doubly glad because I grew up in a small town right next to Troy, and while we had a nice and adequate library that I could bike or walk to, it was always a treat when my parents drove me to the much larger Troy library!
posted by marxchivist at 11:55 AM on June 15, 2012


Fuck yeah! I got chills watching that! Well, its probably because its cold in this library I am in, but fuck yeah! That is great.
posted by cashman at 11:57 AM on June 15, 2012


The sarcasm would be lost, and it would be really disgusting to see.

Possibly, but not every implementation of this tactic needs to look just like this. The intent was to get the town thinking about what they really cared about, what they wanted to keep in their community, what they actually value. And it worked, because instead of myopically focusing on refuting a political argument (NO NEW TAXES) it focused the voters' attention on what the issue really was: does the city of Troy want to keep its library or not?
posted by LooseFilter at 11:59 AM on June 15, 2012 [10 favorites]


"There are 200,000 reasons to close the Troy Library. They’re called books. "

Some folks' satire meters in Troy must be seriously damaged. ;)

The sarcasm would be lost, and it would be really disgusting to see.

Yep, this is why you have to do it around a subject that 95% of the population rejects, like book burning. Lynching, gay bashing, etc. -- unfortunately not enough people reject those yet.

"Bottom line, if people want to save the library, they'll get out and vote yes."

LOL.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:59 AM on June 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


What's the conservative analogue?

FOX News
posted by Thorzdad at 12:00 PM on June 15, 2012 [10 favorites]


Smart activism; I like it.

I call it Smacktivism.
posted by Aquaman at 12:02 PM on June 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


"Libraries are redundant in this dane age"

THAT'S WHAT THEY SAID WHEN THEY SACKED LINDISFARNE
posted by theodolite at 12:03 PM on June 15, 2012 [47 favorites]


I'm a little confused about something.

Salmonberry's post says:

Anti-tax crusaders (*cough* Tea Partiers *cough*) took over the conversation [my emphasis] to get it voted down.

How does this work, exactly? I'm not a progressive, so perhaps there is some nuance to this I am missing.

When "crusaders ... [take] over the conversation," does it mean "citizens participating in the democratic process, and proving more successful than their opposition at persuading voters that their cause is correct"?
posted by Alaska Jack at 12:07 PM on June 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


Keep women in their place, Romney 2012.
posted by Mick at 12:09 PM on June 15, 2012 [15 favorites]


How does this work, exactly? I'm not a progressive, so perhaps there is some nuance to this I am missing.

When "crusaders ... [take] over the conversation," does it mean "citizens participating in the democratic process, and proving more successful than their opposition at persuading voters that their cause is correct"?


Usually it means "citizens openly lying and/or using fallacious rhetorical tactics to convert the conversation from one about their cause to one about something unrelated and indefensible to make their opponent look bad without actually engaging in any discussion about the matter at hand". It's a very common tactic in today's political landscape.
posted by IAmUnaware at 12:12 PM on June 15, 2012 [25 favorites]


When "crusaders ... [take] over the conversation," does it mean "citizens participating in the democratic process, and proving more successful than their opposition at persuading voters that their cause is correct"?

Yes, if by that you mean "proving more successful at raising and spending money to spread disinformation and lies to persuade voters that their cause is correct." Absolutely.
posted by blucevalo at 12:12 PM on June 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


@Alaska Jack - I don't know what the Tea Party involvement was in this case, but close to where I live, meetings to discuss raising taxes to keep funding for the school system had a substantial number of Tea Party types who were not residents coming to them. If your only goal is to be disruptive, you don't have to have actual stakes in the fight or even a platform other than shouting people down. A handful of noisy people going from unrelated district to unrelated district can do an awful lot of damage to the actual business of local people trying to discuss their wants and needs.
posted by Candleman at 12:16 PM on June 15, 2012 [10 favorites]


Just. Fucking. Brilliant.
posted by dbiedny at 12:16 PM on June 15, 2012


Alaska Jack: "When "crusaders ... [take] over the conversation," does it mean "citizens participating in the democratic process, and proving more successful than their opposition at persuading voters that their cause is correct"?"

No. It simply means that they're louder and more visible than everyone else, making their opinions look a lot more popular and widespread than they actually are.

This shouldn't come as a surprise. Library users are subjected to years of conditioning to be as quiet and unobtrusive as possible.
posted by schmod at 12:17 PM on June 15, 2012 [11 favorites]


Sneaky. Misleading. Underhanded. Librarians.
posted by Blake at 12:19 PM on June 15, 2012 [12 favorites]


>Alaska Jack, no, that's a pretty obvious mischaracterization of what the Tea Party is and the role it plays in the American political landscape currently. Yes, these are to an extent local citizens in Troy exercising their right to speak up, but the Tea Party in all of its many local manifestations has obvious and well-documented links to much larger entities with much more important non-local agendas and waaaay deeper pockets than anybody or any company in Troy can match. And all of that outside money shouts much louder than ordinary citizens or truly local organizations can match. Hence the turn toward clever subversion to change the conversation in a way that doesn't require hundreds of thousands--or millions--of dollars' worth of shouting.

When your local Tea Party speaks, in this day and age, it's really obviously not just local activism.
posted by LooseFilter at 12:20 PM on June 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


I normally don't like trolling, and am amazed that so many people got taken in by this (which, in itself is a really scary sign), but the messaging here was pitch-perfect.

Just the right level of snark, and did a fantastic job of making their opponents look ridiculous.

Also, notice that their Facebook Page had 75 likes in the screenshots? This thing doesn't appear to be the slam dunk that the ad agency is making it out to be...or at least, the social aspect of it wasn't...
posted by schmod at 12:20 PM on June 15, 2012


Rovian political tactics, being used for good? Yes, more of this, please.
posted by Athene at 12:22 PM on June 15, 2012


Also, notice that their Facebook Page had 75 likes in the screenshots? .

Maybe they were using Likes as a bookmark.
posted by zamboni at 12:22 PM on June 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


Punk-ass book jockeys.
posted by Think_Long at 12:23 PM on June 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


Lefty dirty tricks!

Where do I sign up to help in my own town/region?
posted by Slackermagee at 12:24 PM on June 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


I normally don't like trolling, and am amazed that so many people got taken in by this (which, in itself is a really scary sign)

It IS scary that this would be taken seriously. I suppose it just shows you just how far off the edge the right has gone, that a book-burning party would be assumed to be legitimate. I'd love to know how many tea-baggers supported the idea of a book-burning.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:25 PM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wow - I literally cannot think of a cooler example of social engineering on a mass scale. I really like how the video juxtaposed a few of the ways that people think about issues like this. On the one hand, you have the folks who grab the tax issue by the collar and use it as a launching pad against big government, out-of-control spending, etc., but on the other, you've got people who...enjoy the services libraries provide.

But book-burning, and the visceral reaction to it? Maybe this little experiment is proof that the anti-censorship vein in the United States runs deeper than I give it credit for. Though I wouldn't be surprised if those 75 Facebook "likes" were from people who thought it was a legitimate event...
posted by antonymous at 12:28 PM on June 15, 2012


I'm confused. The library was the only cause of the 0.7% tax increase? If not, why was it singled-out by the town to be cut if the increase wasn't approved? Seems a non-increase that small could have easily been spread around the entire town budget.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 12:28 PM on June 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


I am uncomfortable with the applause of apparent 'dirty tricks,' 'Rovian political tactics,' 'trolling,' 'Sneaky. Misleading. Underhanded.' ' Certainly deceptive,' and 'Pretty underhanded.'

A good outcome, but it makes me sad that it has come to this to save valuable civic spaces in our communities.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 12:30 PM on June 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


blucevalo - Your reply may have seemed sharp and trenchant when you typed it, but I think it's pretty clear to everyone else that that's NOT what I meant.

Neither the post nor the youtube video linked gives any evidence of the "disinformation and lies" to which you refer.

Here's what the youtube video does say:

** This angered [angered is a loaded word. No evidence for actual anger is offered]
** a well-organized [well-organized is not a crime. Obama was a community organizer]
** and well-funded [this is evidently supposed to imply nefarious motives. Was the library targeted by the Koch brothers? The Bilderberg group? The Russian mafia? The video doesn't say.]
** anti-tax group known at the Tea Party. (No problem here)
** they started posting "'Vote No' signs" [and this is a problem why?]
** mailing fliers [and this is a problem why?]
** and making noise [what does this even mean?]
** they dominated the conversation [dominating implies coercion. But this just goes back to my original question. How did they "dominate"?]
** changing the topics from libraries, books and reading to taxes, taxes, taxes. [They weren't changing the topic. To them, taxes WERE the topic. This is just clearly propaganda. The Tea Party folks weren't opposed to simply having a library (much less "reading") -- they were opposed to a TAX INCREASE.]

So, what am I missing? From a factual standpoint, which side exactly seems to be more invested in "disinformation and lies"?
posted by Alaska Jack at 12:30 PM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I can understand how the sneaky tactics would've upset some people, but pragmatically I think it would have required something devious and controversial to get people to realize what they were up against - I think voter apathy is a real danger to common sense at the polls.
posted by Salmonberry at 12:31 PM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Alaska Jack - it's a problem as framed in the youtube video in that the "NO" side was the competitor. A problem to democracy? No. A problem to the library's need for the money? Yes.
posted by Salmonberry at 12:34 PM on June 15, 2012


Salmonberry -

Of course. You can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs. Sometimes you have to be sneaky and devious. Ultimately, it's for the greater good.
posted by Alaska Jack at 12:34 PM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Possibly, but not every implementation of this tactic needs to look just like this. The intent was to get the town thinking about what they really cared about, what they wanted to keep in their community, what they actually value.

I like this perspective. When we frame the issue around what it actually means to people, perhaps in a hyperbolic fashion, the people are forced to look at what's actually at stake rather than outright rejecting a notion based on their ideological proclivities.
posted by Think_Long at 12:35 PM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Tea Party folks weren't opposed to simply having a library (much less "reading") -- they were opposed to a TAX INCREASE.]

Voting to oppose the tax increase was voting to shut down the library. The two are interrelated - and that's the point. You can't talk about taxes without discussing the things taxes purchase... which is what the Tea Party was trying to do.

Now, they could have compromised, and looked to economize the budget else where to offset the tax hike with a rollback of something else less essential to the community, but that conversation - a rational discussion of the tradeoffs - simply wasn't happening.
posted by Slap*Happy at 12:37 PM on June 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


Wait ... did I miss the party?
posted by busillis at 12:38 PM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ah, Troy, Michigan.

In the news again today.

Troy, MI Mayor Janice Daniels Compares Homosexuality to Smoking, Says It's 'Dangerous', Faces Recall: VIDEO
Troy, Michigan mayor Janice Daniels, who faced outrage late last year over a Facebook update that read "I think I am going to throw away my I Love New York carrying bag now that queers can get married there" and months later said she wanted an expert to testify that homosexuality is a mental illness at an anti-bullying forum spoke out again this week as she faces down a recall vote in November.

Daniels appeared on Charlie Langton’s morning show Wednesday on Talk Radio 1270, CBS Detroit reports:
“What I said while I was mayor … I was in a business meeting, I come from a business perspective … I said that I would bring a doctor into a meeting that would say that the homosexual lifestyle is dangerous,” Daniels said, adding,”Had I been with a group of smokers I might have said I would like to bring a doctor into this meeting to say that smoking is dangerous.”

Is it dangerous to be gay? Langton asked.

“I think that doctors can make a case for it certainly,” the mayor said, adding that she “had no opinion” on whether being gay is more dangerous than smoking.
This week, organizers of a recall campaign against her delivered signatures:
Organizers of the recall campaign reportedly delivered 9,300 signatures Tuesday to the Elections Division at the Oakland County clerk’s office. The Detroit News said the group needed 7,985 valid signatures by June 15 to force the recall election — which means unless the signatures are challenged as invalid, the recall election will happen in November.
Watch WXYZ Detroit's report on the recall.
posted by ericb at 12:38 PM on June 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


Slackermagee: "Lefty dirty tricks!

Where do I sign up to help in my own town/region?
"

Maybe if the fuckwit Dems got Dean instead of milquetoast Kerry we would have had some of this fight before... Just like fuckwit dems/lefties voted for Barrett in the WI primaries. Idiots. Now THIS is how you do it, you fucking "progressives".

I <3 Librarians and am always gladdened when they fight back.
posted by symbioid at 12:43 PM on June 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


Of course. You can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs. Sometimes you have to be sneaky and devious. Ultimately, it's for the greater good.

They could take the high road and lose to a group appealing solely to the wallets of the people or take the low road and win by a country mile.

Which is rather scary, I could imagine, if one saw what had been the principled and slightly boring opposition suddenly decided to jump head first into the mud simply to save a library. Imagine what that could accomplish on a national scale.

And in word of Lem, "I don't want to take the high road. Its high. I might fall off."
posted by Slackermagee at 12:44 PM on June 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


I am uncomfortable with the applause of apparent 'dirty tricks,' 'Rovian political tactics,' 'trolling,' 'Sneaky. Misleading. Underhanded.' ' Certainly deceptive,' and 'Pretty underhanded.'

A good outcome, but it makes me sad that it has come to this to save valuable civic spaces in our communities.


Interesting that this viewpoint is so common amongst my fellow liberals. You'd think group that is such a big fan of The Wire would know it's all in the game.
posted by Aizkolari at 12:45 PM on June 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


...think A group...
posted by Aizkolari at 12:45 PM on June 15, 2012


Alaska Jack: "
** changing the topics from libraries, books and reading to taxes, taxes, taxes. [They weren't changing the topic. To them, taxes WERE the topic. This is just clearly propaganda. The Tea Party folks weren't opposed to simply having a library (much less "reading") -- they were opposed to a TAX INCREASE.
"

We know. We get it. They won't ever fucking shut up about it. They're obsessed with it over and over and no matter what the topic is it's TAXES. They just never. Fucking. Shut. Up.
posted by symbioid at 12:46 PM on June 15, 2012 [16 favorites]


I'm uncomfortable with sneakiness in civic discourse myself and I empathise with anyone who would be against this as a tactic, but honestly if I were in their shoes I'd go that route too. Sometimes you've just got to put up your dukes and fight. I think the campaign was a case of them fighting smarter, not dirtier.
posted by Salmonberry at 12:50 PM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Of course. You can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs. Sometimes you have to be sneaky and devious. Ultimately, it's for the greater good.

I'm sure that's what Lee Atwater and Karl Rove would tell you.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:52 PM on June 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Aizkolari, easy to say that when you've got the gun.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 12:53 PM on June 15, 2012


Slap Happy -

You can't talk about taxes without discussing the things taxes purchase... which is what the Tea Party was trying to do.

This seems directly contradicted by the facts. Here is a link to one of their fliers (maybe the only one -- I don't know). It is ALL ABOUT the library.

Also, discussion of the library is all over the front page of their website.

So, I understand the assertion you are making. It just doesn't seem accurate in this specific instance. The Troy Citizens United group seems very clear and specific in their claim: i.e., they maintain that Troy shouldn't need to raise taxes in order to fund the library.

(Now, this assertion may be inaccurate; that is beyond my ability to assess. But in terms of which side is communicating honestly, clearly and in good faith, this frankly seems like a pretty open-and-shut case.)
posted by Alaska Jack at 12:55 PM on June 15, 2012


Sometimes you have to be sneaky and devious. Ultimately, it's for the greater good.

You sound exactly like almost every Republican policymaker and staff member I worked with on Capitol Hill.

Holy shit. I just figured out why Michael Moore.

He's actually a conservative trying to make the left look dishonest and stupid? I'd buy that, actually.
posted by The World Famous at 12:56 PM on June 15, 2012


Symbioid:

We know. We get it. They won't ever fucking shut up about it. They're obsessed with it over and over and no matter what the topic is it's TAXES. They just never. Fucking. Shut. Up.

Hey, I'm with you. I sure would be nice if I could just get my political opponents to shut up. Will no one rid me of those troublesome priests?!
posted by Alaska Jack at 1:00 PM on June 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


I learned everything I know about front groups from Morton Blackwell's technology manual.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:01 PM on June 15, 2012


Aizkolari, easy to say that when you've got the gun.

Indeed it is, which is why I'd prefer that the political party that I support has the greater firepower in a given election or vote. It's why I give money to Warren and Obama. I'm half-joking, of course.

Also, seriously, the Democrats never pull of shit this clever. In this Tea Party ridden, post-Citizen's United, Koch-sucking age, if you can't take a certain measure of joy in something like this coming off to save a library in Troy, MI, I feel sorry for you.
posted by Aizkolari at 1:02 PM on June 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Hah! I'm always honestly dishonest!

I wonder how many places this campaign could run and easily been seen as satire? When I think of it running twenty years ago as opposed to present day, seems like more communities would've been able to see the true message before the reveal. I feel sad not being surprised things have changed in that regard.
posted by Salmonberry at 1:11 PM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


It is ALL ABOUT the library.

Looked more like fudging the numbers and advocating draining the town's coffers to, quite literally, nothing... they wanted to spend money that wasn't in the budget as well as the "rainy day fund" (which looks reeeeeally low to begin with for a municipality that size: that stuff pays for real, not manufactured emergencies.) Without this imaginary money, the library shuts down... and since the money is imaginary, it would be shut down.

So, they were, in essence, lying to the voter in order to duck a %0.7 (not 11%, more fudge) tax increase.

If you remove the lies and fudge, what issue is the tea party running on? I mean, at least "SAFe" revealed their hoax well in advance of the election and explained clearly how and why they did it.

We're still waiting for an explanation from the "Troy Citizens United" (nice name).
posted by Slap*Happy at 1:12 PM on June 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


[Folks, ease up. This thread is turning into a few folks taunting each other. Please go to MetaTalk if you have issues with specific people.]
posted by jessamyn at 1:12 PM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm bookmarking this for the next time somebody posts the Bill Hicks marketing rant.

As to the morality of the action - it's tricky. Clearly they have good intentions, and it seems to have helped. But they lied about their actual intentions. However, they didn't lie about much of factual matters. Nothing about the costs, or dangers to people - they're not preying on anyone's vulnerabilities. Just their cynicism, and belief that this could be possible. Meh, that's not so bad.
posted by Lemurrhea at 1:15 PM on June 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Now go away or I shall taunt you a second time!
posted by octobersurprise at 1:16 PM on June 15, 2012


Sorry, jessamyn - I certainly didn't mean to come across as taunting. Perhaps I shouldn't use sarcasm as a device.

My point is really just the same as "the man of twists and turns," above. It's always disheartening to me how many people will countenance dirty tricks by "their side," because, you know, they're the GOOD guys. It's OK when THEY do it. Heck, really, the others guys practically forced them to do it. And besides, they started it.
posted by Alaska Jack at 1:19 PM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


So my wife is a librarian at this library. I'm fairly certain that the claim in the post that this ad agency worked with the library is false and I'm not sure where it is coming from (notice that the "wasn't without controversy" link critical of the campaign is written by an employee of the library).

The claim that these jokey, confusing signs saved the library (and not you know actual supporters of the library working hard to turn out the vote) is highly dubious and obviously incredibly self serving for them to make. I'm not sure why we're supposed to take it at face value.
posted by grapefruit at 1:22 PM on June 15, 2012 [17 favorites]


Salmonberry -

Good points re satire. I certainly would have understood this to be over-the-top satire, and I'd like to think most people would as well. In other words, I highly doubt that the library actually won this vote because of all the people were fooled into voting for it.
posted by Alaska Jack at 1:23 PM on June 15, 2012


grapefuit - thank you for the clarification. My understanding was that it was the library but I will email the mods to see if I can get that part of the post altered so that it's clearer.
posted by Salmonberry at 1:26 PM on June 15, 2012


grapefruit - exactly. You said it better than I did.
posted by Alaska Jack at 1:31 PM on June 15, 2012


[edited the post per OP request to clarify that this was not the library's PR project]
posted by jessamyn at 1:31 PM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


faced with dwindling prospects the library worked with an advertising agency

According to this post from the Agency Spy blog at MediaBistro, this was totally conceived in-house by Leo Burnett's Detroit office (which is actually located in Troy, MI) without working with the local library.
posted by jonp72 at 1:31 PM on June 15, 2012


So, what am I missing? From a factual standpoint, which side exactly seems to be more invested in "disinformation and lies"?

Well, just for starters:

Let's send our library patrons to the newer facilities at Rochester or Bloomfield Hills, says TIME4CHANGEINTROY.COM. In other words, our own community supporting a library is a waste of money, but if other municipalities around us want to charge our citizens membership fees to use their libraries, go for it!

As a librarian in a neighboring suburb wrote, "The Michigan Supreme Court has agreed that libraries DO NOT have to sell non-resident cards. Baldwin, Bloomfield Township, and Rochester Hills Public Libraries, the 3 libraries sited, DO NOT sell non-resident cards. When TPL closes, Troy residents and school children will [not] be able to come into the libraries and use any resources in the building that are not restricted to residents only. You will NOT be able to check out material, attend registered programs, use study rooms, download media, or use online databases from home. There will be time limits and other restriction on computer usage. Even wireless capabilities will be restricted. Do not delude yourself in thinking that you will have open access to most other libraries. In difficult economic times, public libraries are at their busiest….serving their own taxpaying residents. With layoffs and unpaid furlough days for staff, shrinking budgets, and reduced hours, these area libraries are stretched to just serve their own taxpayers. Why would they take on non-residents who are not willing to support their own community library?"

Tea Partiers also hit the elections office with fake recall petitions to stymie a recent recall against Tea Party mayor Janice Daniels and did the same thing in 2010 with multiple fake millage proposals to fight another Troy public library millage.

If it smells like disinformation, it's disinformation.
posted by blucevalo at 1:34 PM on June 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Personally I am against misleading strawman rhetoric from either side. I'm glad the library got funded but trolling is trolling.
posted by burnmp3s at 1:35 PM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well there you have it, jonp72 & grapefruit did much better detective work than I did. Thank you for that.

On the plus side, if the campaign did not turn the tide in favour of the library, I'll be happy to know that an ad agency cannot win an election just by diving in on it's own.
posted by Salmonberry at 1:36 PM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


This seems directly contradicted by the facts. Here is a link to one of their fliers (maybe the only one -- I don't know). It is ALL ABOUT the library

Yeah, it's still about taxes. Read the flyer. They are saying "vote no" to a tax increase because the City has savings. Savings are actually a good thing for a City to have, and if you're going to make up for budget shortfalls by funding fixed expenses like libraries from your savings instead of using them for, say, emergencies or future capital projects, you will exhaust your savings very quickly and have increased budget shortfalls at that time. These people don't want to pay for the library and are being disingenuous about it.
posted by Hoopo at 1:39 PM on June 15, 2012


I'm bookmarking this for the next time somebody posts the Bill Hicks marketing rant.

I'm a liberal who thinks liberals could learn a lot from marketing. Most people do not make choices through a rationalized process of assessing the merits of every plank of a political party platform, but use heuristics and bias-laden cognitive shortcuts in making their decisions whether they're selecting a toothpaste or a candidate. Marketers understand this. Leo Burnett clearly knew that getting people emotionally involved in saving their library would be more effective than some back-and-forth, he-said-she-said debate about taxes vs. public services.
posted by jonp72 at 1:42 PM on June 15, 2012 [9 favorites]


This seems directly contradicted by the facts. Here is a link to one of their fliers (maybe the only one -- I don't know). It is ALL ABOUT the library.

I don't necessarily trust anti-tax activists to be entirely honest, but lets assume they weren't lying about the compensation of the city employees listed. HOL-LEE shit! I'd be pissed if my property taxes were going up to save the library when only twenty public sector employees were pulling in a combined five million bucks per year. The problem isn't the library, it's that the electorate stood by and let pirates sack the town.
posted by Mayor Curley at 1:42 PM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is barely a dirty trick. More like a somewhat clever object lesson. Like on TV shows where the rich dude dresses like a bum and the bum dresses like a rich dude and then they reveal it to "force people to face their preconceived notions"

A dirty trick would be push polling (a phone poll with questions like "would it make you feel better or worse about the tea party if you knew they planned to burn books") or willfully misattributing it to the tea party.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:44 PM on June 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


Finally, some Tea Partiers you can truly pwn.
posted by Flashman at 1:46 PM on June 15, 2012


blucevalo - I actually noticed the same thing, and had the same reaction. But let me make a couple of points.

(1) The TCU writer is not (as the neighboring librarian seems to think) suggesting that Troy residents should be able to use those other libraries for *free*. The page specifically says "Area libraries are all looking for funding sources and would love to accept Troy residents on a community based overall fee or on a “utilization” paid system or “membership style” program." This could be wrong as a matter of fact, but it is not unreasonable, and does not seem like deliberate misinformation.

(2) Ultimately, it doesn't matter as regards to my point. I have no need or urge to defend the TCU. For all I know, they could be the thievingest, sneakiest, tricksiest snakes in Michigan. But the post wasn't about them, and didn't offer any evidence of that. The post was about the people who made the book-burning signs. And there were plenty of people upthread who seemed to (a) believe the campaign was sneaky and dishonest, and (b) approved of that.

(3) Their attitude seems to be, "Well those guys are dirty dogs, so underhanded tactics are justified." And, well, really, what can one say to that. My experience suggests that people who think that way are unlikely to be persuaded otherwise, and trying to do so is mostly a waste of time.
posted by Alaska Jack at 1:47 PM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


(a) believe the campaign was sneaky and dishonest, and (b) approved of that.

I guess based on my chosen name I should be one of them.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 1:51 PM on June 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


This is an excellent thing.
posted by pracowity at 1:53 PM on June 15, 2012


If it smells like disinformation, it's disinformation.

Indeed.
posted by The World Famous at 1:53 PM on June 15, 2012


Zadie Smith puts it better than I can in this recent article for the NYRB:

The thing that is most boring about defending libraries is the imputation that an argument in defense of libraries is necessarily a social-liberal argument. It’s only recently that I had any idea that how a person felt about libraries—not schools or hospitals, libraries—could even represent an ideological split. I thought a library was one of the few sites where the urge to conserve and the desire to improve—twin poles of our political mind—were easily and naturally united.

I suppose I should be pleased that the 'book burning' campaign helped to keep a library open, but I just find it too depressing that the public discourse was degraded to the point where this was even necessary.
posted by verstegan at 1:59 PM on June 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Hoppo:

Yeah, it's still about taxes. Read the flyer. They are saying "vote no" to a tax increase because the City has savings. Savings are actually a good thing for a City to have, and if you're going to make up for budget shortfalls by funding fixed expenses like libraries from your savings instead of using them for, say, emergencies or future capital projects, you will exhaust your savings very quickly and have increased budget shortfalls at that time.

Sigh. Now we're just going around in circles.

1. Of course it was about the taxes. Read upthread. I'm the guy who pointed out that TCU's efforts were clearly ABOUT the taxes, and the video was disingenuous in implying that it was, rather, about their brutish dislike of (in the words of the video) "libraries, reading and books."

2. Someone upthread said, yes, but it's dishonest when they're JUST talking about taxes, and not about the things those taxes fund (i.e., in this case, the library).

3. I pointed out that that doesn't square with the fact of THIS case, where TCU is quite OPENLY talking about the library. They're not burying it somewhere -- it's all over the front page of their website!

These people don't want to pay for the library and are being disingenuous about it.

They don't want a tax increase, and are being quite open about it.
posted by Alaska Jack at 1:59 PM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Pay no attention to jessamyn, she's clearly a shill for Big Library.
posted by dr_dank at 2:01 PM on June 15, 2012 [8 favorites]


It bothers me that a bunch of hoopleheads that don't even understand why it's a good idea for a large city to have an emergency fund can get it together enough to produce and distribute goofy, misleading and ill-researched flyers about city finances, and the people who are on the purportedly intelligent and informed end of the spectrum can't.
posted by Shepherd at 2:04 PM on June 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ha ha. My mother's a librarian. I love libraries!
posted by Alaska Jack at 2:05 PM on June 15, 2012


It bothers me that a bunch of hoopleheads that don't even understand why it's a good idea for a large city to have an emergency fund can get it together enough to produce and distribute goofy, misleading and ill-researched flyers about city finances, and the people who are on the purportedly intelligent and informed end of the spectrum can't.

Both sides of this issue distributed goofy, misleading and ill-researched flyers.
posted by The World Famous at 2:13 PM on June 15, 2012


This is the kind of issue that I think democracy kind of sucks at. I feel we need to recognize this shit for the political cowardice and leadership failure it is. FUND THE LIBRARIES! Take the consequences for any tax increases or budget cuts you have to do. The people shouldn't have to micromanage the public budget because that is what elected representatives are for. This goes triple for schools.

I realize its usually more complicated than that and the public needs to have a say for lots of reasons (breaking deadlocks etc.), but it still pisses me off.
posted by wobh at 2:14 PM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


This campaign was misleading? Yes, it was...until they revealed who they were and what they were doing. Before the election.

This isn't Karl Rove. This is...Tootsie. Maybe.
posted by PlusDistance at 2:15 PM on June 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


Sounds to me like the Tea Party served an excellent purpose here, albeit unintentionally. By attempting to block a worthy tax, they forced the library and its friends to creatively demonstrate to the voters just how worthy that tax is. Democracy is great!
posted by TreeRooster at 2:16 PM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


"I'm confused. The library was the only cause of the 0.7% tax increase? If not, why was it singled-out by the town to be cut if the increase wasn't approved? Seems a non-increase that small could have easily been spread around the entire town budget."

Some of the news stories note that it's a "dedicated funding source." Local tax levys may be restricted -- you can levy $X for this fund, $X for that expense -- and you may only be able to raise taxes for certain things without a referendum. There are all kinda of funky rules that govern local property taxes. (My school district, for example, levies into 6 or 8 separate funds, and money from one can't be used for another, and some of them are capped and others are uncapped, and some of them require a vote to go up, and some of them can go up 2.5% a year maximum no mater what inflation is, and so on.) It's also possible the library's tax district isn't contiguous with the city of Troy and funding is strange that way.

Also .7% (which I believe is taxing, for example, a 2.0% tax rate to a 2.7% tax rate, though the reporting is, as ALMOST ALWAYS, unclear whether they're talking about the rate of increase or the increase in the rate) is kinda large for a local property tax increase. I mean certainly not huge, but notable. It will also probably only be one of several increases, depending on how their property taxes are split up, but generally EAVs (value of taxable property in the municipality) are flat or falling and costs to run police departments aren't, so the tax rate to property owners (if not necessarily tax receipts to the city) are going up.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 2:31 PM on June 15, 2012


My favorite is how they've included funds earmarked for "early retirement cost" among their eggregious annual salary expenses at the end of the flyer, and included "early retirement savings" among the seekrit shady sources of income at the beginning.

I can't disagree with Mayor Curley's observation that the salaries seem a bit on the high side for a city that size though.
posted by Hoopo at 2:37 PM on June 15, 2012


Ha ha. My mother's a librarian. I love libraries!

Yeah, yeah, you just don't think you should have to pay for them if other people are going to use them.

We get it, really!
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:49 PM on June 15, 2012


Both sides of this issue distributed goofy, misleading and ill-researched flyers.

Yes but one side that did it was on the side of good and one side was on the side of bad. The people on the side of good are tired of losing to the side of bad and seeing bad things happen, but the bad side's tactics are the ones that win. So some on the side of good decided to use those tactics to win the battle which meant a good thing happened as opposed to a bad thing, and not a thing was lost except for some integrity and decency. But this is politics.
posted by Danila at 2:52 PM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, yeah, you just don't think you should have to pay for them if other people are going to use them.

What an odd thing to say. Nothing I've written reveals what I think about funding Troy's library, much less my own.
posted by Alaska Jack at 3:02 PM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yes but one side that did it was on the side of good and one side was on the side of bad.

Ah, yes. The good dishonest liars versus the bad dishonest liars. I hate politics so much.
posted by The World Famous at 3:07 PM on June 15, 2012


Or, as my dad is fond of pointing out, there are two political parties in America: the stupid party and the evil party. But the stupid party is also evil and the evil party is also stupid.
posted by The World Famous at 3:09 PM on June 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


Ha, they want to use the Bloomfield Hills library? Not going to work, because Bloomfield Hills doesn't have a library!

Bloomfield Township, which surrounds Bloomfield Hills does though, and the BH residents used to use the Bloomfield Township library. But then the BH residents didn't want to pay for the library, so they voted against a millage to support it. So the library said, fine, you don't pay the tax, you don't use the services! So now Bloomfield Hills residents have NO library even though they are one of the wealthiest communities in the state.

That would be fine, right, because it seems they want to use the free market to obtain their reading materials. Well, no, not really. Actually it seems like they want to take Bloomfield Township Library to court to gain lending access but still not pay the millage.

The upshot is, "We like libraries, but we won't pay for them."

Hilarity, until you realize that these are the same people who spent a decade blocking any attempt to streamline a school district with a decreasing student population, forcing the district to keep open buildings that were emptying of students at great cost, despite identical facilities being open with room for a consolidation of students less than one mile away.
posted by newg at 3:11 PM on June 15, 2012 [6 favorites]


What an odd thing to say. Nothing I've written reveals what I think about funding Troy's library, much less my own.

Good point. So what do you think?
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 3:28 PM on June 15, 2012


Ha, they want to use the Bloomfield Hills library? Not going to work, because Bloomfield Hills doesn't have a library!

The actual article in the link specifically references the BTPL and expressly proposes that Troy residents should be charged a membership fee to use the Birmingham, Bloomfield Township, or Rochester public libraries. Per the actual article linked: "Area libraries are all looking for funding sources and would love to accept Troy residents on a community based overall fee or on a “utilization” paid system or “membership style” program."

So, although bluecevalo's comment says "Let's send our library patrons to the newer facilities at Rochester or Bloomfield Hills," the article to which he links does not mention Bloomfield Hills at all, instead correctly referencing the BTPL.
posted by The World Famous at 3:30 PM on June 15, 2012


What's most interesting to me is not the deception of the front org (SAFe) nor the deception of the gag book-burning party--it's the fact that book burning (i.e. censorship or threatened aggression against specific books, authors, or concepts) doesn't really have that much to do at all with the issue of funding libraries.

I think it's that disingenuousness that I like the best. The wrong side has been so good an manipulating deceptive memes ("death panels") that this sort of obfuscation is especially fun to see.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:37 PM on June 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


This is a neat campaign, but to overthink this for a second, closing a library and burning books aren't precisely the same thing?

It'd be amazing if we could get to the point in our discourse where exaggerating and being shrill, instead of getting you attention, just gets you ignored. At either end of the political spectrum.
posted by biochemicle at 3:40 PM on June 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


MrGrimm I think you said basically the same thing as me but obviously your take is opposite mine.
posted by biochemicle at 3:42 PM on June 15, 2012


They should have aired that Chris Rock skit on books - then the Tea Party would build a hundred libraries.
posted by Artw at 3:45 PM on June 15, 2012


I guess it would be great if everyone paid attention to local issues and thought everything through rationally. I think the fact of the matter is that in local issues like this people who like the library are off doing other things, not suspecting that oh shit, someone is trying to close the library. The people that want to drown government in the bathtub are on it 24/7.

Lets say you told your neighbor that there was a vote to deny a .7% tax increase to keep the library. They might say "oh that sucks, I'll show up to vote" and they probably never will because they think everyone else will be an adult, they think "who the hell would close the library, the library has always been there and always will" they think "They will make up the difference somehow, maybe a few more bake sales"

Tea Partiers know that they can shut services down a fraction of a percent at a time. First the library is closed, next you cut back on garbage pickup, next thing you you know you are shutting off street lights.

This all happens because everyone else wasn't paying attention. They thought everyone else would be adults about it. The changes were slow and incremental and they are now the frog that didn't feel the water get hot.
posted by Ad hominem at 4:00 PM on June 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


As a public librarian whose job depends on people giving a shit, I say well done.
posted by zzazazz at 4:01 PM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't think it was underhand or dirty campaign. It took a situation (threatened library closure), extrapolated on it (what to do with all the books if the library is closed?), came up with a provocative suggestion, book burning, (they could have promoted a 'land-fill' party but it doesn't have the same ring) and then let the local voting public consider a potential consequence of their 'no' vote on the tax increase by suggesting they celebrate and party around that consequence.

Sure the campaign used to its advantage the knee-jerk reactionary style common in the community, and good on them I say. They did it with great psychological understanding of both their market and the issue at hand. They had created a campaign where the consequence-message: "A vote against the library is like a vote to burn books" came after a strong build up. Had they started with this message, it would have been lost in the din.

Not sneaky, smart.
posted by Kerasia at 4:12 PM on June 15, 2012


I don't have any way to independently verify the numbers in the flyer from the opponents of the tax increase, but if they are correct, that town has SEVERE problems. They are corrupt as fuck.

Which is exactly the sort of people you'd expect to pull this kind of sleazy, lying campaign 'to save the Library!' when the library only needed saving from their spendthrift ways. Pay the town staffers more reasonable amounts of money, and they could easily cover the library. And that's not even beginning to look at the rest of the town budget. If they're that wasteful on the senior people, I suspect the rest of the budget probably is, too.

That's basically exactly the sort of bullshit that Tea Partiers want very much to stop, a few people living high on the hog by forcibly extracting money from others.
posted by Malor at 4:13 PM on June 15, 2012


Libraries are redundant in this dane age

There are more videos on YouTube and Vimeo, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:14 PM on June 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


(3) Their attitude seems to be, "Well those guys are dirty dogs, so underhanded tactics are justified." And, well, really, what can one say to that. My experience suggests that people who think that way are unlikely to be persuaded otherwise, and trying to do so is mostly a waste of time.

Except, we have ample evidence of the Democrats trying to compromise in good faith with the GOP (which right now is essentially the tea party) and the GOP just digs their heels in harder, often, against all reason. I think you're probably aware that it has become a running joke that the GOP is opposing stuff primarily (and sometimes only) because Obama and the Dems support it and reason often doesn't figure into it at all. So I don't really understand why you're acting affronted that some people are applauding that whoever is going up against the tea party has finally tried a different tactic, given that reasoning and compromise has gotten them absolutely nowhere over the past couple of years.

For the record, I don't think it's sneaky or underhanded at all. I think that it's pretty clear that a lot of issues need to be framed in a different way, because reason and facts are getting lost in the pollution of the Fox News disinformation loudspeaker. This found a very clever way to show people the same message in a different way.
posted by triggerfinger at 4:22 PM on June 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


Except, we have ample evidence of the Democrats trying to compromise in good faith with the GOP (which right now is essentially the tea party) and the GOP just digs their heels in harder, often, against all reason.

That's because the GOP is further down the rabbit hole than the Dems are. Republicans have been compromising their principles for so many decades that they literally don't know what they are anymore. Democrats have been trying to learn to play that game, but they keep getting tripped up by the fact that they actually have guiding principles and actual political objectives.
posted by The World Famous at 4:27 PM on June 15, 2012


[Bookmarking this thread for when pro-Romney 529s roll this out on a massive scale this fall.]
posted by MattD at 4:27 PM on June 15, 2012


Lentrohamsanin -

>> What an odd thing to say. Nothing I've written reveals what I think about funding Troy's library, much less my own.

> Good point. So what do you think?


I have no opinion whatsoever on the matter. I don't have enough information to make an informed judgement.
posted by Alaska Jack at 4:28 PM on June 15, 2012


[Bookmarking this thread for when pro-Romney 529s roll this out on a massive scale this fall.]

Will they be clever and have a point?
posted by Artw at 4:31 PM on June 15, 2012


This kind of reminds me of all the hysteria back when voting for Obama (the first time) was supposed to lead to losing all of our guns. Every ammo catalog that came to my house (yes - I get multiple ammo catalogs, what of it?) had big, hysterical editorials from the publishers that we were about to lose all of our freedoms and OMG YOU'D BETTER BUY A LIFETIME'S SUPPLY OF GUNS AND AMMO RIGHT FREAKIN' NOW BECAUSE LIB'RUL LUCIFER ON A STICK, O'BAMMA'S ON HIS WAY!!! WE CAN'T KEEP IT IN STOCK! BUY! BUY! BUY!

So Obama was elected, and the only thing that happened was that arms dealers made a fucking KILLING! So to speak.

So this reminds me of that. Except instead of making money selling arms to paranoids, a small town library gets to keep lending out books.

I guess I'm saying, yeah - I got no problem with this. It's called tactics.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:42 PM on June 15, 2012


Man, this is just awful. These folks are almost as bad as those Latino kids who were sitting in on Obama's regional campaign offices. Don't they understand that taking actions to advance your cause is wrong when they might deceive or inconvenience people? You're just supposed to sit around and bitch about it on the Internet.
posted by indubitable at 5:14 PM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


So, I actually looked up some of the info about Troy and the facts behind the "TCU pamphlet." It's a reasonably wealthy community, with a median household income of $79,000. The city staffing is down 10-15% since 2005. Contrary to claims that taxes never go away, their millage is down slightly since 2007 (9.5 to 9.3, looks like), and is lower than most peer communities. A $12.3 million reserve fund balance isn't particularly high for a city that size, and they ran deficit budgets from 2007-2009, so they're probably chary about cutting too far into the reserve fund.

The city manager's total compensation package appears to be $159,917.32 for 2010, not $247,768 as claimed in the pamphlet. The assistant city managers are listed as making $221k and $182k in the pamphlet, but the city report lists them at $197k and $175k. (The city report breaks out wages, FICA, health insurance, etc., so you can see the breakdown of the total compensation package, as well as the total.) The library director makes $114,472.55 according to the city; $129k according to the pamphlet. The salaries seem a little bit high (to me) for a city of Troy's size, but not outrageously so, especially for a reasonably wealthy community. The library cut 23 part time and 7 full time staff (1/3 of the staff).

I don't know how competent the mayor and council are, or how much fat there is in the budget, or what's up with their bond rating, but the people who put the pamphlet together either don't understand city government and budgeting, or were counting on people reading the pamphlet not understanding it. Troy significantly reduced staff and slightly cut taxes in the last five years, and the pamphlet's salary numbers are apparently from a non-publicly accessible source that doesn't jibe with the publicly reported numbers.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:19 PM on June 15, 2012 [6 favorites]


I'm bookmarking this for the next time somebody posts the Bill Hicks marketing rant.

As to the morality of the action - it's tricky. Clearly they have good intentions, and it seems to have helped. But they lied about their actual intentions.
Given what you just said, how does it refute Bill Hicks? It seems like a perfect example of their duplicity in general. It isn't even clear if this is a good thing of if they're just lying about that too. I mean, if they lied about wanting to burn books how do you know they're not just lying about what would happen without the money? I mean that's the whole thing: we already know they're liars so how can you say they lied about the goals of their opponents, but aren't lying about what their opponents were trying achieve?


It's possible that other services could have been cut instead. Maybe doing something stupid like turning off street lights after midnight or who knows. Maybe cutting city salaries. Other people in the thread seem to be saying that the salaries were higher then they needed to be. (Not that I think we should pay local officials like they work at walmart)

How do we know that library had to go if they didn't get the tax increase? Other people have said the funds might be earmarked, but I don't really get why they would suddenly need a tax increase to pay for something that had been around forever.


Again, I'm not upset to see the library stay open. That's great. And this isn't really terrible since it's kind of small potatoes anyway. But the idea that this should be the 'template' that liberals work from is kind of gross and also self defeating. Becoming just as duplicitous as the republicans isn't the way to win. If you vote for the best liars you're just going to get people like Joe Liberman, who are just as happy to lie to you and about you as they are the republicans. Why wouldn't they?


And to top it off, apparently what happened is that an ad agency decided to get involved in a small political campaign, a dishonest way, mainly in order to promote themselves and their skills at 'social media' (complete #hastags) without even bothering to consult with the people they were supposed to be helping and pissing some of them off in the process.
Sounds to me like the Tea Party served an excellent purpose here, albeit unintentionally. By attempting to block a worthy tax, they forced the library and its friends to creatively demonstrate to the voters just how worthy that tax is. Democracy is great!
Yeah, except the library wasn't involved in the campaign.
Maybe if the fuckwit Dems got Dean instead of milquetoast Kerry we would have had some of this fight before... Just like fuckwit dems/lefties voted for Barrett in the WI primaries. Idiots. Now THIS is how you do it, you fucking "progressives".
Eh, I'm all for keeping libraries open, but if you think dishonesty and lies are the way to get "progressives" victories in general count me out. The problem is you start out lying about what the republicans want ("They don't just want low taxes, they literally want to burn books for fun!") and then the next thing you're lying about your own policies – voters assume (correctly) that you're full of shit and tune you out.

Also. I never got the impression that Howard Dean wanted to lie about what bush was doing, or his motivations. Why would he even need too?
Interesting that this viewpoint is so common amongst my fellow liberals. You'd think group that is such a big fan of The Wire would know it's all in the game
Right, clearly modeling a political movement after a criminal syndicate is the way to succeed in America. Some people think that's the problem.
This is a neat campaign, but to overthink this for a second, closing a library and burning books aren't precisely the same thing?
No. In one case they are burned. In another case they are... not. The books would probably be given away, sold on Amazon, it's not like they wouldn't go anywhere, unless they were books no one wanted.

This is the same kind of "Logic" that Newt Gingrich uses when he says Obama supports Infanticide. "Isn't Abortion precisely the same as killing infants? In both cases a baby who would exist now doesn't exist! They are the same!" bla bla bla.
[Michael Moore] actually a conservative trying to make the left look dishonest and stupid? I'd buy that, actually.
When was the last time he was dishonest about something?
Except, we have ample evidence of the Democrats trying to compromise in good faith with the GOP (which right now is essentially the tea party) and the GOP just digs their heels in harder, often, against all reason.
Since when is "not compromising" the same as "lying to the public". The democrats won big in 2006 and 2008. In DC they had a majority of the house and 60 votes in the senate and the Whitehouse. they didn't need to compromise they had total control. They needed to compromise with Joe Liberman and other dishonest democrats - the same kind of dishonest people you're now championing who turned out to be perfectly willing to lie to liberals and stab them in the back on behalf of their corporate sponsors when it actually mattered.

It's like dating a girl who cheated on her boyfriend with you. How can you trust she won't cheat on you? I mean, how the fuck can you vote for someone because you think they're a good liar and then not expect them to lie to you too?

This thread is actually a perfect example of why the democratic party is so fucked. Christ.
posted by delmoi at 5:37 PM on June 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Here's the "not without controversy link" since apparently no one read it:
Finally an explanation from the Book Burners. But a poor one at that.

You, the Book Burners, claim you wanted to ”turn the rational conversation into an emotional one.” Clearly, you have not followed this issue as closely as you claim. This is not an emotional issue?

Then you have never spoken to one member of the Friends of the Troy Library who poured heart, soul, and donations into trying to win the November millage. Nor to the current Save Troy organizers, who have gone door-to-door with tireless zeal, explaining to their neighbors the importance of a library to the community.

You have never read the Books for Walls Project blog, whose writers – though they live 250 miles away – have championed the cause of the Troy Library, not only to the State but in Europe and beyond. You have never read any of the posts on the Letters to the Children of Troy on blogs around the world. You have never read one of the hundreds of comments on the Library’s website.

You have never stepped foot into the Troy Library to see children streaming in, with their parents unable to catch up. Or the lines of unemployed waiting to register for computer classes.

And certainly, you have never talked to a Library staff member who has spent the past two years listening to this outpouring of emotion for the Library from the public, while riding her own emotional roller coaster.

And now your comment seems to be taking credit for some “new” emotional response you have imagined you created: “Today, people are talking. They’re talking online, talking on the phone, and talking over their fence. They’re talking about books and what it means to lose a library.” And you think this is because of you?

I am appalled.

You did nothing to help support the Troy Public Library on August 2. All you did was cause confusion that Library supporters have been trying to avoid at all costs, as the previous elections were confused enough. All you did was add more divisiveness and bickering in a community that should be united on its love and need for a library. All you did was violate election laws in pursuit of political satire. And all you did was add no signs on the streets and avenues in Troy where none existed.

You have done nothing to help support the Troy Library. Do not take any credit from the hardworking women and men who have.

Next time, I would suggest you try your political theatre in Royal Oak, where your signs claim your office is. Or in Livonia, where your treasurer works. Or in Detroit, where your committee is registered. That would help support the Troy Public Library more.

Phillip Kwik

P.S. While I am employed by the Troy Library, these comments reflect my own views
So basically, an ad agency created a dishonest "social media campaign" and then took credit for saving the library. And people in the thread are lauding them for their "effective" use of dishonesty and complaining that democrats don't lie enough, which is why they lose, even though they actually won control of congress in '06 and then won a senate super majority and the whitehouse in '08. *rolls eyes*.

The truth is, the democrats lost in '10 and have squandered the political goldmine handed to them by Karl Rove and bush by using their lying skills to tell everyone that their policies were awesome when in fact they were barely getting anything done, kow-towing to people like Joe Liberman (one of the best political liars ever!) and in general being dishonest about who they were working for (their political donors)
posted by delmoi at 5:47 PM on June 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


This thread is actually a perfect example of why the democratic party is so fucked. Christ.

Replace "the democratic party" with "all of humanity" and I'm right there with you.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:48 PM on June 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


Alaska Jack: "What an odd thing to say. Nothing I've written reveals what I think about funding Troy's library, much less my own."

That's the beauty of the Socratic method. You get to make fools of people without ever having to defend your own position.
posted by klanawa at 5:50 PM on June 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


[Michael Moore] actually a conservative trying to make the left look dishonest and stupid? I'd buy that, actually.
When was the last time he was dishonest about something?


The last time? I don't think he's stopped, has he? As far as when he most recently was dishonest about something, I don't know.

The problem is you start out lying about what the republicans want ("They don't just want low taxes, they literally want to burn books for fun!") and then the next thing you're lying about your own policies – voters assume (correctly) that you're full of shit and tune you out.

Nonsense. I mean, sure, that's exactly what happened with Obama, but I'm just trying to disagree with you anyway for some reason.
posted by The World Famous at 5:56 PM on June 15, 2012


The last time? I don't think he's stopped, has he? As far as when he most recently was dishonest about something, I don't know.

How can you call him dishonest if you can't even name something he's lied about?
posted by delmoi at 6:05 PM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


You didn't ask if I can name something he's lied about.
posted by The World Famous at 6:09 PM on June 15, 2012


(Now, this assertion may be inaccurate; that is beyond my ability to assess. But in terms of which side is communicating honestly, clearly and in good faith, this frankly seems like a pretty open-and-shut case.)

Since I have no other plans on this Friday night I thought it might be fun to delve into the tea party flyer you linked above. I always kind of dismiss tea party propaganda because I feel as though it's been pretty well documented that they actually do not communicate honestly, clearly or in good faith, as you are asserting. But I thought I should probably look into it myself instead of relying on what other people say.

First of all, on the first page they have the names and pictures of what they call the "anti-library four". Except they put the photograph of council member Dane Slater next to the name of council member Maureen McGinnis and vice versa. So really, kind of starting off on the wrong foot there with a pretty glaring error. But it's not really relevant anyway, so moving on.

Past that, on page three they list the City of Troy pay and perks for the top twenty employees. They don't seem to provide a citation other than the mysterious "Letter from Troy City Manager, Dated September 13, 2010", which is weird but in any case irrelevant as city salaries are public record and not the result of the investigative prowess of the Troy tea party unearthing some secret document, which I kind of feel they make it sound like. City salaries are open, public knowledge! They can be found here.

Which brings us to the numbers. I have no idea where they got these numbers printed on their flyer from and if someone does know, I would be grateful if they could provide a source. I wouldn't put it past the tea party to just make shit up but I like to believe that they are acting in good (if perhaps completely and totally misinformed) faith. Taking two of the numbers from the flyer:

"City Manager - $247,786 (Receives Troy Pension)"
"Police Chief $201,488"

I can't reconcile this with what the Troy city website which reports for the:

City Manager
Medicare wages: $149,500.55 (=regular pay $140,500.17 + unused vacation $5115.38 + personal mileage $3885).

Add to the $149,500.55 the value of his benefits:

$8789.36 FICA
$853.19 dental
$215.02 life
$559.20 disability

=$159,917.32 total compensation and benefits (plus retirement, more on that later*)

not much different for the Police Chief:

Medicare Wages: $134,048.91 (=regular pay $114,547.62 + Longevity $3500 + Unused sick $5520.41 + unused vacation $11,500 - medicare excludable amount $1019.98)

Add to the $134,048.91 the benefits:

$8565.31 FICA
$24,282.68 Retirement
$11,408.15 Health/vision
$853.19 Dental
$194.01 Life
$700.30 Disability

for a total comp and benefits of $180,052.55.

I would like to know where the tea party gets their figure of $201,488.

Most of the rest of the pamphlet is full of nebulous claims wrapped in the bog-standard boogeyman used by the right for decades to scare people into acting irrationally: the lazy, good-for-nothing person who sits around and takes your hard earned money and laughs at your stupidity.

Oh, and it should be noted that there is another website which answers the very questions and claims put forward by the tea party, except they do it coherently and provides lots of citations for their assertions gathered from the city website, county and state websites and media reports. They actually delve pretty deeply into the library issue and address pretty much every claim that has been made by the tea party, as far as I can tell, except without the hysterics, exclamation points or pictures.

*with regard to the city manager's pension, he collects a $75,000 pension bringing his total compensation up to $234,917. This is still smaller than the tea party's claim of $247,786, which also does not explain the following wrt the pension:

The current city manager is a contract employee and does not get any health care or retirement benefits paid by the city. In the Fall of 2009 when he announced the fiscal situation, he immediately cut his own contract salary by 5%. He has committed to cutting it an additional 10% starting July 1, 2011. As a result, the cost of the city manager to the City's general fund is 38% less than the cost of his predecessor. It was the previous City Council (Eisenbacher, Howrylak, Fleming, Broomfield, Schilling, Kerwin and Beltramini) that hired him and insisted that he continue to collect his retirement benefits so it would be cheaper for the City. (This followed a failed attempt to find a city manager after a costly search; Szerlag agreed to come back and serve the role.) Any other city manager Troy hired would have cost far more than Szerlag costs. Also, he is not eligible for two pensions from Troy. To put it most simply, if we were paying for a different city manager, Mr. Szerlag would still be collecting his pension. What is the difference?

So to get back to this statement:

But in terms of which side is communicating honestly, clearly and in good faith, this frankly seems like a pretty open-and-shut case.

I think I have to agree with you. Although I suspect that we may have come to the opposite conclusion.
posted by triggerfinger at 6:09 PM on June 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


klanawa:

>Alaska Jack: "What an odd thing to say. Nothing I've written reveals what I think about funding Troy's library, much less my own."

>>That's the beauty of the Socratic method. You get to make fools of people without ever having to defend your own position.


Well, I guess that's true, as far as it goes. But I've already made clear I have no position on the tax increase in question; and I have made very clear my position on deceptive and/or sneaky behavior in politics.
posted by Alaska Jack at 6:22 PM on June 15, 2012


triggerfinger -

I respect your sleuthing! To my statement about which side was communicating honestly, I certainly should have added the qualifier, given what we know from the facts presented in this post. Also, I should have avoid language that made it seem like I was siding with TCU -- as I said in another post, for all I know, they could be the sleaziest outfit on the planet.

I would like to know where they got their numbers from. It would surprise me if it was a deliberate falsehood -- esp. since that particular info is so easily checked. I'd like to see that mysterious "Letter from Troy City Manager, Dated September 13, 2010."
posted by Alaska Jack at 6:31 PM on June 15, 2012


Man that Jonathan Swift, what a liar. He never really wanted the Irish to eat their own children.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:36 PM on June 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


On non-preview, everything Eyebrows McGee said.

Except, we have ample evidence of the Democrats trying to compromise in good faith with the GOP (which right now is essentially the tea party) and the GOP just digs their heels in harder, often, against all reason.

Since when is "not compromising" the same as "lying to the public".


I'm don't think I'm saying that. In defending the tea party Alaska Jack said he didn't think underhanded tactics were justified and that you can't even have a reasonable conversation with someone who does think that and I'm saying that Dems have been trying to work things out in good faith, not using underhanded tactics, and the GOP has made no effort whatsoever. It's irrelevant whether or not the Dems could have done something with their majority and didn't, the fact is that the Democrats are now trying to reach a consensus on everything from health care to taxes and the GOP refuses to even listen, even when the proposals they're being presented with are the exact same things they themselves championed just a few years earlier.

So someone else shouldn't use underhanded tactics but every other non-underhanded tactic they've tried has been roundly rejected, whether or not it makes any sense? Well, where does that leave you? You've tried everything already and it hasn't worked, so now what?

I don't think that the official Dem strategy should be to lie, but this wasn't an official Dem message. I do believe we really need to make a big change to how we are framing our messages to something that will better resonate with voters rather than just throwing dry facts and statistics at them. People respond to red meat, we know that from watching the huge success of the tea party. We need to figure out a way to present the issue in that way except without being dishonest. This is not an impossible task.

It's clear that trying to use reason and logic isn't working and what happens is tea partiers vote in people like Scott Walker, who turn out to be as horrible as you and I already knew but by the time they realize that, the damage is done and as shown by the Wisconsin recall, faces an uphill battle in being reversed. So what do we need to so that people see past the homey sweater vest and kissing babies to what these people are really doing? We know that a not-insignificant number of the people voting for the tea party crazies are more moderate and even dare-I-say-it, liberal than what they are voting for. We are not reaching them and I think that in some ways we are alienating them even more. I pretty strongly believe that we shouldn't stoop to the Rovian tactics that the other side uses, but on the other hand, they fucking work. And we need to find a way to do that and still maintain some kind of integrity. I have to believe there is a middle ground.
posted by triggerfinger at 6:43 PM on June 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


Alaska Jack-

On non-preview (again!), I appreciate your clarification and I apologize for jumping to the conclusion that you're a tea party supporter if you aren't.
posted by triggerfinger at 6:46 PM on June 15, 2012


Alaska Jack But I've already made clear I have no position on the tax increase in question; and I have made very clear my position on deceptive and/or sneaky behavior in politics.

So go inform yourself, take an actual position, and argue it honestly. Until then, kindly cease deceptively and sneakily pretending to be "concerned" about the morality of the tactics, while "having no position" on the outcome of the battle.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 8:30 PM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm gonna need a sharper knife for this irony.
posted by The World Famous at 8:44 PM on June 15, 2012


I want to thank Eyebrows McGee and Triggerfinger for doing some sleuthing to run down the claims in the flyer. That's helpful to know more about, since it helps inform us whether or not the library issue was being used by city officials to shield other, less defensible, spending.
posted by Wretch729 at 9:15 PM on June 15, 2012


I think the point that the agency went ahead and did this without telling the library staff is an important one. I can see why the people that work/volunteer for the library would be pissed.

Businesses will get involved in political process and often sound off on tax issues (though usually to the tune of not raising them), but usually they don't go off on their own and start campaigns. This could set a dangerous precedent in that regard - or am I naive and has this been happening already?

Troy, MI, seems to have the Leo Burnett agency located in it. Some of the people who worked on the campaign might be residents of Troy (dunno the lay of the land there) who used their skills to get their opinion out the door. If you work in an ad agency you'll have a lot more resources at your command for that sort of thing, and heaven knows ad agency staffers tend to have opinions.
posted by Salmonberry at 10:07 PM on June 15, 2012


Businesses will get involved in political process and often sound off on tax issues (though usually to the tune of not raising them), but usually they don't go off on their own and start campaigns. This could set a dangerous precedent in that regard - or am I naive and has this been happening already?

lol.
posted by delmoi at 10:11 PM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, ALEC.
posted by dirigibleman at 11:29 PM on June 15, 2012


aeschenkarnos:

>>Alaska Jack But I've already made clear I have no position on the tax increase in question; and I have made very clear my position on deceptive and/or sneaky behavior in politics.

>So go inform yourself, take an actual position, and argue it honestly. Until then, kindly cease deceptively and sneakily pretending to be "concerned" about the morality of the tactics, while "having no position" on the outcome of the battle.



(1) I have taken an actual position. It is this: Tactics that are reprehensible when used by the "other guys" do not become laudable and praiseworthy when used by "your" side. If one wants to adopt that position, fine, but in the future you can stop pretending to be the "good" side.

(2) kindly cease deceptively and sneakily pretending to be "concerned" about the morality of the tactic. This doesn't really need any comment from me. I just wanted to highlight it.

(3) "Go inform yourself." I take it by this you consider yourself informed on the issue. So I have a few questions for you.

* Is the library a good one?
* Is it efficiently run?
* Does it provide good service?
* Does the city efficiently spend existing tax revenue?
* How is the local economy doing?
* What are the other funding priorities? Could you please list them for me?
* How do these competing funding priorities rank against library? Please provide the pros and cons of each.
* Are there other services (snow removal, maybe, or school lunches) more deserving of support?
* Will the library actually be forced to close? What alternative courses of action are there? (cutting back on hours, for example, or paring back other services)
* Does it seem likely that the city will increase taxes again next year?
* In my imaginary life in Troy, what is my own personal economic situation? Can I afford this tax increase to fund the library? Do I have any things I consider more important to spend my own money on? (Food, shelter, insulin, donations to Planned Parenthood, etc.)

Once I have this information, perhaps I will feel better equipped to lecture the people of Troy, Michigan as to whether, in hindsight, they should or should not have supported this particular tax increase.
posted by Alaska Jack at 12:46 PM on June 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


1. When assessing the morality of a series of actions, outcome has primacy over process. The elevation of process over outcome, which is the core of your putative dispute, inevitably leads to unacceptable outcomes. Furthermore I have no problem with satire as a tool for both sides; it is a tool that conservatives cannot wield.

2. You are a sly and disingenous concern troll. Highlight that.

3. I'm not interested in "educating" concern trolls. It is pointless, as you can always slyly declare yourself "insufficiently informed" and continue to ask question after question ad nauseum. In any case there is more than sufficient information in the links. The core of the issue here is: a tax increase is required to keep the town's public library running. The town is not being abandoned, citizens in the aggregate can afford the tax increase, libraries count as public education, and the positive economic effect of public education is obvious. Accordingly, the correct thing to do is increase the taxes. Unfortunately the prospect of tax increases triggers rabid opposition from economic subliterates, whose willingness to engage in discussion in good faith is hilariously absent, so methods of neutralizing the harm that they do must be devised.

Whether the town's officials have been wasting tax money on other things is another, separate question. Certainly investigation of that is warranted, however once again there is a strong chance of that investigation getting derailed into an anti-governance crusade by the same economic subliterates, and their more erudite spokesbeings like you, who will express your unalleviatable "concern" and ask your endless "questions". And accordingly, ways to neutralize the harm you mean to do must be considered and implemented - for example, calling you out as a concern troll.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 2:53 PM on June 16, 2012


This has to be by design, surely discourse doesn't get so utterly utterly fucked by accident. While we all drown in this ocean of beans someone seems to be running off with our stuff.
posted by fullerine at 4:02 PM on June 16, 2012


aeschenkarnos -

Wow. Well then.

I'm not going to bother to point out all the logical fallacies you crammed into that -- they're not likely to make much difference to you, and I'm perfectly comfortable letting the other readers here spot them for themselves.

I'll only note a few things.

(1) You could have saved yourself a lot of time in that first paragraph by simply asserting "The ends justify the means."

(2) "citizens in the aggregate can afford the tax increase"? Gosh, you're really generous with other people's money. I thought I was being asked if *I* would support the tax increase.

(3) So... taking your words at face value, you seem to believe I should devote a non-insignificant chunk of my time to studying up on the issues behind a vote that's already taken place, on a topic a don't care much about, in a town 3,500 miles away, that I've never been to and don't plan to visit, so that I can hold an informed opinion on what the residents of that town should have voted. Did I understand all that correctly? Please advise.
posted by Alaska Jack at 6:17 PM on June 16, 2012


[Do not turn this into a one person vs everyone thread. We have asked you before. We are asking again.]
posted by jessamyn at 6:51 PM on June 16, 2012


Alaska Jack, haven't you already devoted a non-insignificant amount of time, etc., just without the informed opinion part? If you don't care, I am unclear on why you are posting on it repeatedly. Please advise.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:47 PM on June 16, 2012


Jessamyn -

Understood. I would humbly point out two things:

First, Lentrohamsanin simply asked me what I thought of the library funding issue. And I replied simply -- I have no opinion one way or another. I didn't expect any further interest in that line of thought.

It was aeschenkarnos who then went textbook ad hominem on me. ("Until then, kindly cease deceptively and sneakily pretending to be "concerned" about the morality of the tactics ... You are a sly and disingenous concern troll.") I am perfectly happy leaving myself out of this entirely. The original post was about tactics used relating to a municipal vote in Troy, Michigan. I frankly fail to understand why it matters what I personally think about library funding.

I will now completely clam up about all this. Sincere apologies for any offensive behavior on my part. - aj
posted by Alaska Jack at 10:26 PM on June 16, 2012


Per the actual article linked: "Area libraries are all looking for funding sources and would love to accept Troy residents on a community based overall fee or on a “utilization” paid system or “membership style” program."

Just wanted to note that this is the crux of the problem for Bloomfield Hills residents. BTPL doesn't have a membership program for non-residents. They have some affiliated libraries, one of which is Troy, actually, but the Bloomfield Hills residents who do want to use the library can't personally pay for a membership outside of supporting collective taxes to support it.

This totally makes sense because BTPL is doing quite well in terms of funding. They just remodeled the whole library in fact. They were able to do this because their funding is guaranteed for several years in advance by the community and is administered in blocs instead of small chunks of membership fees and whatnot. I am not party to the details of why BTPL doesn't offer memberships to non-residents, but it certainly is more efficient not to have to process such individual memberships, collect from each individual member, provide customer service for such memberships, etc.

The community of Bloomfield Township recognizes that the BTPL is a public good, and not just a public enterprise. They are invested in it's development and durability, and so they vote to fund it unilaterally in order to provide stability and easier administration.

Bloomfield Hills tried to violate that contract and the library responded in a way that accords with the principle that it is a public good and a public resource. It would, in my opinion, be foolish of the library to go down the path of paid membership. Netflix is a good example of a private company who experienced a sudden downturn in membership and faltered. We don't need Netflix, but Bloomfield Township has decided that they do need a library.

For the same reasons, it doesn't seem like Troy residents will have the option to purchase individual memberships if their library closes, even though they currently have access to the BTPL through the Troy library. This is probably partly a question of the cost of administering such memberships, and also seems to be part of the overall strategy that the BTPL management has used to preserve the library as a public good, and therefore make it exempt from the fickleness of the market.

I personally support libraries even though I don't use them all the time because when I need them, they are there. It's much easier to destroy an institution during times of surplus (lots of books on my bookshelf, ability to afford my own internet) than it is to recreate it during times of need.
posted by newg at 12:07 PM on June 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


« Older The harsh reality of being a skateboarder...  |  Revolutionary new web technolo... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments