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"Democracy is a letter to the editor..."*

Digger - June 14, 2017

This was submitted to the Borrego Sun as a letter to the Editor. It was not published.

"Freedom of speech is always under attack by Fascist mentality..."        Lawrence Ferlinghetti

According to the minutes of the Borrego Water District Board Of Directors meeting on April 25, 2018:

Director Tatusko stated he was disappointed in Dennis Dickinson's Editorial criticizing Dave Duncan [BWD ratepayer representative to the Groundwater Sustainability Plan Advisory Committee]. He felt it was unproductive, and Mr. Duncan agreed. Director Brecht stated it should not have been published, and Michael Sadler [a reporter for the Borrego Sun] agreed to bring it up at the Borrego Sun meeting Tomorrow (sic).

In the first instance, the editorial was not "criticizing Dave Duncan" as Tatusko alleges. It addressed and sought to correct numerous factual errors and misrepresentations in a letter Duncan wrote to the Borrego Sun. When he insinuates that Duncan is the victim of an ad hominem ("to the man") argument, Tatusko is guilty of one of many peccadilloes - shall we say - committed by Duncan in his letter as enumerated and explained in the very "editorial" at which Tatusko takes umbrage.

Second, that Tatusko was "disappointed" in the subject editorial merely expresses his reaction to it. It says nothing about the editorial itself and is of little interest without further elaboration which he does not deign to provide. It suggests, however, that he believes the BWD board and its minions to be above criticism for their performance in the offices to which they have been elected/appointed and is frustrated that anyone would have the temerity to publicly offer such.

Third, Tatusko suggests that the editorial was "unproductive," again without without unpacking that adjective. But would it then, by his lights, somehow be "productive" to allow numerous unfounded, misleading, inaccurate, or flat-out false statements proffered as fact in the public media to stand unchallenged?

Fourth, that "Mr. Duncan agreed" with Tatusko is immaterial but not surprising. It is after all Duncan's ox being gored and he is understandably anxious to see the editorial discredited however feebly.

Director Lyle Brecht's comment about the editorial, i.e. that "it should not have been published," is more ominous. Like Tatusko's disappointment it may imply an imperious belief that the BWD board and its minions are above criticism which is alarming enough. As stated, however, it is a demand for outright censorship and an attempt to control and restrict public access to the media. There is probative evidence to suggest the latter interpretation.

As the principal architect of and enthusiastic participant in the infamous Borrego Water Coalition (BWC) Brecht amply demonstrated his penchant for secrecy in the conduct of what should be public affairs. By conducting the people's business under the cope of the BWC and suppressing information about the machinations of the shadowy cabal until the ink was dry on the pumper-friendly "BWC Policy Recommendations" he was complicit in denying any possibility of public participation in drafting them.

Irrespective of his motivation, by advocating censorship Brecht is abusing his bully pulpit in another flagrant attempt to negate the public's right to comment on, challenge, criticize, or otherwise affect government actions or inactions that impact them. Borregans should hope the Borrego Sun defies Brecht's outrageous demand that the public voice be be struck dumb and continues to provide a forum wherein the public can, if they will, hold the feet of the worthies to the righteous fires of public scrutiny - disconcerting as that may be to certain incumbents.
_____
*E.B. White, The New Yorker, July 1943

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