My Side of the Fence

The danger isn't going too far. It's that we don't go far enough.

Blog Changes

What I’ve always tried to do here is give citizens some level of access to what’s going on in the City government – with my own commentary added in.  As near as I can tell, I’m the only guy around who is doing this and I’ve tried to be as straight about it as possible.  I haven’t deleted posts because someone thinks I’m dumb or disagrees with me.  I may not be a literary genius or an original thinker but most of what’s conveyed here you would never know about unless you attended all of the hours and hours of meetings I attend.  You certainly wouldn’t read about it in the newspaper and if you did it would probably be wrong.  In-depth budget discussion? Fleet Plans? Crime? M&T/BPOL discussions?  Forget about it.

And it’s crazier than that: since most of this stuff isn’t in the paper at any level of detail, I’ve actually caused myself a fair degree of trouble by writing about it!  Face it, if nobody knew the details about most of this stuff, my life would be a lot easier.  We could run the City more like the Federal government.  The negative part is that people who know nothing and don’t care to know anything about the subject at hand pop off nasty blog posts.  For the past 5 years I’ve accepted that as the price of doing business.  The ground rule has always been that you can say whatever you want about me but not anyone else.

Last night my daughter came to me.  She had obviously been reading the blog and asked: “why are those people so nasty to you?”  “Why do you put up with it?”  “Why do people want the schools to suck?”  “Don’t they remember the big layoffs 2 years ago?” “What are they thinking?”  I answered that some of them weren’t thinking but I could tell she resented it.  She resented the blog and the time it takes to write and moderate it – all at once.  She’s seen the show up close and personal.  She’s born the brunt of missed performances and meetings.  She resented those who refuse to think and who foist their ignorant abuse on me.  This, at last, was my breaking point.  My line in the sand.  It was simple of me to suspect that this abuse ended with me: it inevitably includes my family and that’s a price I’m not willing to pay.

So, as of this morning, the rules have changed.  I won’t tolerate any more insults of any sort.  No snark.  no cute re-writes or comments.  Many of you who have been buttholes in the past will find yourself already blacklisted and unable to comment.  It’s an admission that our collective third-grade teachers were right: it only takes a couple of jerks to spoil it for everyone.  To all who are unhappy with this, go open your own blog and keep it fresh for the next 5-6 years.  Good luck and bon voyage.


  1. Let the market decide

    November 26, 2011 at 5:14 pm

    It’s your blog, your property, and in America your right to decide how to run it. If you want to provide a sound board more for policy debate than for name calling, it seems just about right to me. Simple enough.

  2. It is about time

    November 26, 2011 at 5:25 pm

    I agree. This is your living room. You let in who you want to let in. No reason to allow the equivalent of a wall street sit-in crowd to occupy your living room. I haver never seen you bar the door just because someone disagreed with you, only when they got nasty to others, then out and rightly so.

  3. The Principal is in the house!

  4. Way to go, A. There is no reason why your family should have to put up with personal attacks on you that read like lies out of Pravda.

  5. Why not some sort of login system? And no comments accepted without a login. Keep in mind if you blacklist by IP, you can unintentionally block since Comcast and Verizon both use DHCP and an IP could be me one day and some whacko another. People can still be somewhat “anonymous”, plus you can also block impersonators that way too (if that’s been a problem). Keeps spammers out of the comments RSS too.
    I’m not a huge Disqus fan but it works. And there are other similar systems. Don’t know if they cost though.
    I have a buddy that runs a highly customized site with WordPress at its core. He’s done the coding himself. Maybe he could help you setup something. Drop me an email if you want me to put him in touch with you to talk over possibilities.

  6. Andy, my compliments…as I have always agreed – your blog, your rules. And as for those who may cause a “fair degree of trouble” for your effort to inform us of topics, and conversely, yourself of how those topics are viewed, well, they should look to you as the example of leadership. Maybe in doing so, light may actually shine upon them.

  7. “A good many things go around in the dark besides Santa Claus.” Herbert Hoover

  8. andy

    November 27, 2011 at 8:07 am

    Thanks to all for your comments. It’s interesting that I agonized over this post for awhile and the effect the rule would have on debate. I still think it will be relatively minor and will serve to raise the level somewhat….

  9. Andy, looks like another busy week ahead.

    Monday: Regular council meeting with some important
    items that will, no doubt, draw more than a little debate.

    Wed, Thursday and Friday (9 AM): Offsite meetings to interview
    City Manager applicants. Plus Finance Meeting Wed. evening.
    Selecting the best possible C/M is one of the most crucial decisions
    a council makes.

    Sat: March in the Greater Manassas Christmas Parade!
    (One of the fun parts of being on city council).

  10. Andy

    I appreciate you taking your time to have a blog. Because you are right, we wouldn’t know alot of the things going on.

    Thank you.

  11. “effect of the rule on debate” – personally, I think it will be more informative for all persons who are interested in discussion of issues. One can follow the City Council Agenda, one can hope documents are posted for access by interested citizens of any locale who wish to contribute, but in the reality of things (and to borrow an expression), most times we hear it here first or see the document here first. Although sometimes the rabblerousers did keep conversations going 🙂

  12. It must be very difficult to be an effective elected official without some way of receiving active feedback. I appreciate the existence of the forum you’ve created. I consider it fairly courageous to provide yet another avenue for citizens to tell you what you’re doing wrong. I’d guess there’s a little more of that than folks wanting to pat you on the back. I didn’t even know what a blog was until you told me you had one, Andy. Keep it up, and I hope you’ll still allow the odd, wacky comment to slip past your filter cause some of them are really a hoot. It’s nice to know what might be going on in my neighbors’ heads. Muchas gracias, Senor Harrover

  13. I’ll keep my snark to your facebook.

    Seriously, Your house. Your rules. No Shirt. No Shoes. No Service.

  14. Andy, I feel your pain, more than you realize. There have been days when I felt like an unwelcome guest on my own blog.

    I never promised not to censor people. I have to remind of that occassionally.

    I like to run a peaceful house also. Spirited is fine but the meaness is unacceptable.
    Good for you. You have our full support. Please don’t send your rude folks my way. Tell them we are liberal extremists or something.

  15. Considering the local rag News & Messenger is cutting back their print edition (a good reason to not renew my subscription) – and their online site needs some serious consulting to improve – maybe add to your banner “you heard it here first!”

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