The Siuslaw news. (Florence, Lane County, Or.) 1960-current, August 15, 2020, SATURDAY EDITION, Page 6, Image 6

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PARTISAN from page 1A
More importantly, those
groups also began to polish
their online presence, us-
ing multiple social media
pages as partisan propa-
ganda platforms, specifi-
cally deleting or denying
posts or comments with
contrary information while
simultaneously promoting
information about oppo-
nents that could be nega-
tively perceived by others.
In addition, email blasts
and social media posts
were used to manipulate
the potential outcomes of
city votes through online
surveys or direct letters to
elected officials.
These tactics have been
especially effective because
the reality is that most
people in the Siuslaw re-
gion don’t engage with or
participate in their local
governments — and by ex-
tension, most are unaware
of the level of partisan ma-
neuvering that has been
taking place.
“We’ve got 8,800 resi-
dents, and I bet you 7,000
of them are just out there
trying to keep their kids in
school and pay their rent,”
one City of Florence elect-
ed official said during a
2019 Florence City Coun-
cil meeting. “They don’t
care about public art, they
don’t care about housing,
other than the fact that
they don’t have one to live
in. They don’t have a vision
for the future. They’re just
getting by day to day.”
At that particular coun-
cil meeting in 2019, which
was a daytime work ses-
sion, only one person from
the general public attend-
ed. While some may point
out that many government
meetings are held during
the day and are therefore
difficult to attend, evening
meetings are rarely any
different. Unless there is
something controversial,
the seats are nearly empty.
When they are filled, they
are generally by partisan
groups who have coordi-
nated their attendance.
The same can be said about
most local public meetings
of government and non-
profits in the region. And
the current limitations due
to COVID-19 seem to have
culminated in even less in-
dividual public participa-
By 2020, methods of
manipulating public opin-
ion on either side of the
political spectrum had
been honed as each group
worked to stoke a culture
war within the Siuslaw re-
gion. During the pandem-
ic, both sides have ampli-
fied issues surrounding
masks and the shutdown,
breaking complex argu-
ments into simple sound-
bites that mock each oth-
er’s side in the debate.
The process of receiving
and relaying information
through social media pres-
ents its own unique prob-
reading in local government in or- porting on the issues of po- our community. It’s only by
lems. Take Siuslaw News’ through Facebook com- der to claim seats on com- litical divide difficult, cre- understanding how we got
ating a steep learning curve here and what we face as a
recent article, “Youth Spur ments or scanning a head- mittees and boards.
On The Movement,” which line, there is a tendency by
Siuslaw News has dis- and some mistakes in how community can we hope
described one of the first of many on social media to covered instances where, we have approached our to identify the solutions
the George Floyd protests believe they’re informed to ensure partisans were reporting. Between 2017 needed to bridge the divide
allowed on specific com- and 2018, the news staff and return to what former
in Florence. On the Siuslaw about an issue.
News Facebook page alone,
City staff see this all the mittees, other nonpartisan here at the Siuslaw News Siuslaw News editor Robert
there were 105 comments, time, as law enforcement volunteers — often with was relatively new and un- Serra once described as, “A
familiar with process that helped us pre-
147 reactions
the new tac- pare for the current issues
and 3,294 peo-
tics being de- by reassuring us that com-
ple reached.
sented for these issues are largely the same — with
ployed by par- munity debate is healthy.”
Some of the
Next week, partisanship
tisan groups
comments in-
more in common than not — the few differences they
on each side is off the table as we focus
do possess have either been politicized or exaggerated
of the divide. on what the Florence City
“Damn this
Our own re- Council is dealing with
town is so full
through personal differences stoked by partisanship. ...
at in terms of housing, jobs
of a bunch of
times wors- and the overall vision of
whites;” “I called you a rac- and staff members at city actual backgrounds in the ened the divide by not ask- the city. It begins in 2019,
ist because you are missing hall are constantly battling subject that the committees ing the kinds of questions when Councilor Joshua
the point of defunding the online rumors that can put were created to address — that could have led to the Greene asked Mayor Joe
were blocked or moved to revelations we have only Henry what he thought the
police;” “A bunch of bigots public safety at risk.
vision of the city should be,
in here;” and “I’m leav-
However, attempting to other committees. This now come to understand.
and when they could spend
ing this town after reading dispel social media rumor has led to turmoil in some
time discussing what that
“We can do
some of these comments.”
can be a two-edged sword, committees. For others, it
vision could be.
that right now”
But how many people with city staff at risk of has meant facing the inser-
“We can do that right
In the weeks and months
who commented actually inserting themselves into tion of political interests
clicked the link to read the partisan arguments. As into the work that commit- ahead, we will share with now,” Henry replied.
For more than an hour,
you those revelations in
a result, they’ve been ac- tees perform.
These actions have grad- order to identify the chal- the majority of the city
cused of a variety of offens-
Many local partisan es, from running a “deep ually spilled out into the lenges posed by the widen- council talked.
And listened.
leaders know about this state” in order to under- community, along with ing partisan divide within
trend and use it to their ad- mine conservative elected political tactics that are
vantage in sowing some of officials, to putting lives in no longer relegated to
the division we are now ex- danger with their response yard signs and Letters to
the Editor. Siuslaw News
periencing with our com- to the pandemic.
Open 4 days a week!
(Siuslaw News could find obtained evidence of how
In March, Siuslaw News no evidence that either of some supporters of these
published a story about those accusations is true.) groups have financially
Here to serve your denture needs:
a right-of-way ordinance
These tactics have had threatened area nonprofits
being proposed to the City direct influence on matters and businesses through a
Partial Dentures
William Foster LD
of Florence. On its surface, such as the city’s Styrofoam variety of ways, from calls
Immediate Dentures
Sherry, Offi ce Manager
the proposal was presented ban and how city commit- to boycott fundraising
Implant Dentures
“As a denture wearer myself,
as a safety measure for pe- tee members are selected. events to outright denying
Relines & Repairs Same Day
I can answer your
destrians; in reality, it was For the city’s elected offi- funding unless politically
questions and address
your denture concerns.”
a partisan attempt to block cials in particular, partisan motivated demands were
~ William Foster, LD
homeless individuals from groups have helped foster made. Individuals have
10am - 2 pm
Financing: Citi Health Card
accepting handouts from already deep divisions over also been targeted, some of
12 Month no Interest
cars. A Facebook page was affordable housing, how to whom have had little to do
524 Laurel St.
created for the movement attract jobs and what the with local politics until be-
in Florence, which was overall vision of the city is. ing attacked through social
modeled after a similar
Ironically, though the media. In some extreme
page in Eugene that stoked solutions officials have instances, group members
fears surrounding the presented for these issues have attempted to get em-
homeless population. In are largely the same — with ployees fired from their
that case, the tactics of the more in common than not jobs, including through
Eugene group led to death — the few differences they coordinated public smear
threats and businesses be- do possess have either been campaigns.
The end effect has been
ing vandalized.
politicized or exaggerated
To avoid the same thing through personal differ- a collective muting of the
Melody Beaudro
from happening here, Siu- ences stoked by partisan- overall conversation —
slaw News reported on the ship. This has been seen leaving only agenda-driv-
issue in a story titled “City through public infighting en groups providing the
5322 Knoll Way – Comfortable double-wide on
Council to Review Petition between elected officials as “voice” in the discussion.
0.90 acre! Vaulted ceilings, front and back cov-
ered decks. Two guest bdrms on the opposite
The effects of these tac-
for Right-of-Way-Change.” council members engage in
end of the home from the master. Some deferred
When posting the article back-and-forth retaliation tics have at times impact-
maintenance. A vacant lot is included. Drive-
online, we chose a stock against each other — both ed this very investigation.
way entrance is gated, room for RV and boat.
$299,500. #3055-19307442
photo of a homeless man, directly and indirectly — While many individuals
tan-skinned and dishev- through political surro- are able to speak off-the-
1749 Highway 101 • 541-997-1200
eled, reaching for money.
gates. Letters to the Editor record, they refuse to get
The post was immedi- in the Siuslaw News, as involved beyond that — or
ately shared on a local- well as online smear cam- go on the record — out of
paigns against officials and fear of retaliation.
ly-based partisan site.
Siuslaw News has also re-
“This is who we want their supporters, have been
to be the issue,” one of the among the tactics used by ceived its fair share of criti-
cism, and some of it rightly
page organizers wrote un- some partisan actors.
der the photo.
In truth, city commit- so. However, over the last
Instead of opening up tees have been stacked three years, we have begun
a discussion on home- with partisans from either experiencing something
Do you part and volunteer today to help support
lessness, we inadvertently side over the years, many well beyond criticism.
these organizations in our community.
Since 2017, members
fueled a partisan talking of whom had no back-
point simply due to the im- ground in city government of the newsroom have re-
age that ran with the story or in the field which the ceived personal threats of
— which became a parti- committee is focused on. violence — written, verbal
In some cases, elected of- and through anonymous
san meme.
The article reached al- ficials have been pushed voicemails. Some have
most 4,000 Facebook users, out by opposing political even involved threats of
and received hundreds of perspectives while, other physical harm to family
times, groups have sim- members and friends, or
comments and reactions.
How many people actu- ply taken advantage of the of being targeted through
ally clicked on the article to community’s long-stand- social media.
It continues to this day.
ing general disinterest and
read it?
Assisting those in need in our Community.
All of this has made re-
unwillingness to volunteer
Free Hot Meals Mon-Wed-Fri
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
Buying or Selling? I can help.
Have unwanted paint, stains and varnish?
Florence Habitat for Humanity will take it!
Call for details
Auto, Home, Life, Business
Flood, Antique Auto, RV’s
Medicare Advantage Plans
Medicare Supplements
Health Insurance
Phone (541) 997-9497
1234 Rhododendron Dr / Florence
We buy, sell and consign quality
estate/heirloom jewelry & furniture.
Gold, silver, platinum jewelry with
precious & semi precious stones.
Call 541-997-8104,
Florence Antiques
Coast Jewelers
Since 1983
50 Ye ce!
541-255-9822 - Larry
Your goals are my
top priority.
Let’s get together!
Call, Text or Email
Cell: 541-505-1180
Insect & Pest Removal
4325 Highway 101
Florence, OR 97439
Trapping • Mole/Gopher
Dead Animal Removal • Honey Bee Removal
Crawl Space Cleaning • Exclusion Work
Fumigation of Antiques and Commodities.
(541) 997-4027
New Location:Community Baptist Church
4590 Hwy. 101, Florence (Across from Fred Meyer)
Call 541-997-5057 to Volunteer
Alva Bracey
Tires • Brakes • Shocks
100 Hwy. 101,
Florence, OR
Us TOO Florence
Prostate Cancer Education
Support on the Oregon Coast
relies heavily
on volunteers.
Th ere are many opportunities to
volunteer and a variety of skills
and talents are always in need.
Volunteer interest forms may be
found online, at the shelter and
at our Th rift Shop on Bay Street.
• Tuesday Evening Group (2nd Tuesday)
5-7 p.m. - Ichiban Chinese/Japanese Restaurant
• Urologist Dr. Bryan Mehlhaff attends.
• Tuesday Lunch Group (3rd Tuesday)
12 noon – 1:00 p.m. – Ichiban Chinese/Japanese
• Urologist Dr. Roger McKimmy attends.
Contact Bob for more information:
(H) 541-997-6626 • (C) 541-999-4239
Deadline for Press Releases Is Every Monday and Thursday by Noon.
Saving men one
PSA test at a time.
Someone to talk to...
who understands!
To include your organization
in this directory, please call us
@ 541-997-3441