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Thursday, April 30, 2009

His Bark is Better Than His Bite

Not all can always be sweet in Candy’s Land. Macon City Council Member Erick Erickson had a feather-ruffled response to my posting “Things That Make You Go Grrr: If it Ain’t Broke, a Naysayer Wants to Fix It” and “P.S. A Penny for Your Thoughts.”

To be fair, Mom had the opportunity to preview Erick’s response before it went to print in the 11th Hour (her previous FTJ) and had a couple of days to think about how - or if - she would respond. The last thing she wants to do is cause an embarrassing Elaine vs. Erick-like tinkle match.

But she still has one question – does Erick Erickson need another spiral-bound, well-tabbed 2008-2009 marketing plan the Macon-Bibb CVB hand-delivered to him and all members of Macon City Council long before he wrote his original 11th Hour column?

Maybe the CVB’s biggest mistake is they should have provided him with a digital version . . . Regardless, the offer still stands to loan him our hardcopy. It’s an extensive, organized, informative read that could answer a lot of Erick’s questions.

But I think I know what he would say to my offer: He shouldn’t have to read it [given his position the community]. Well, given this female dog blog’s shiny new spotlight, I want to make sure I'm not just another cute face with the Walden name on my pet tag. I’m reading the marketing plan from front to back . . . . and back again. It should be dog-earred in no time.

There are days when Mom admits she feels like everyone wants something from her. Or her wheels are spinning. Or she gets frustrated with her own talk and no action. And then she thinks it could be worse – she could hold public office. It takes a special kind of person to carry the weight of the entire community on their shoulders . . . when the sake of the city is still running through your mind after closing your eyes at night and the first thought of the day when you wake up. Not everyone realizes City Council’s level of commitment. It’s not just a semi-Tuesday night gig. Their committee obligations alone could swell a daily calendar. Public service is a 24-hour job, in addition to full-time jobs, families and what little life of their own is left. So, as a registered voter, she has utmost respect for those who have made this kind of investment. She just hopes this particular city council member shares that same respect for the members of the community he’s investing so much hard work in.

Here's his response published today in the current issue of the 11th Hour (found at over 300 locations throughout Central Georgia):

A Female Dog Does Not Like Me

I normally do not write responses to those who write responses to me. I have a bigger soap box, so it is generally only fair to let the other side have their say in an unadulterated manner. I did, however, get a good laugh over a particular female dog last week.

Sitting at my desk on a conference call organizing key lieutenants in the vast right wing conspiracy, a friend sent me a link to a French website that had a blog post about my last column on the Convention and Visitors Bureau. The English translation made no sense. It turned out to be a website that steals blogger content and translates that content into French. For me, it then translated the content back to English. Still, the dual translation made more sense than the original.

The original, it turns out, was Macon originated from the blog of a female dog named Candy. It is actually Jessica Walden’s blog, but she writes under the guise of her dog. Jessica did not like like CVB column and, rather than address the substance, decided it was preferable to go after me directly.

She began, “[I wish] this Ward V Post 3 point person would shut his Mac and actually look interested in the public’s forum.” Never mind that she has no idea what might actually be on my computer — like a property map of a parcel being discussed, a PDF version of legislation to save paper, the IRS 990 records of a potential grant recipient, etc.

Then she rambled on, “Step away from his wireless world and actually ask (in-person) the questions that got him elected.” I have no idea what she is talking about. Maybe her dog vomited on the keyboard there. But she then continued, “And visit to the physical address instead of the web one.” That, of course, pretty much makes my point — the online address should be representative of the physical address. It should be informative, easy to use, easy to navigate, and easy to find. It is actually neither. The only thing more pleasant about it than dealing with the actual CVB is that it does not have Little Richard pretending to answer the phone.

She goes after me again writing, “Mom’s never met Erick. She’s sat beside him a couple of times in WMAC’s studio, but other than adjusting his mic and eating a chicken biscuit, she’s never seen him without his finger on his touchpad. Or even raise an eye from his Apple. Maybe she’d have better luck introducing herself in a chat room.” I have noticed there is a certain class of old school Maconite, the type that typically cause the problems in Macon, who like mocking my work and computer instead of actually dealing with what I write. It makes them feel self-important. Meanwhile, they remained mired in their world of doing the same thing over and over because that is the way they have always done it. It is also much easier to go after me than what I write, given that I’m right.

But here is the heart of her high society naiveté: Jessica Walden thinks the CVB works well because people at the CVB kiss her butt. Keep in mind writing this that it reads like Screwtape writing to Wormwood, as it is in the guise of her dog writing about her. “When she needs the CVB’s help in promoting an attraction or event, she goes directly to them and asks for specific, customized help.”

One would expect the CVB would fall over backwards for the Music Hall of Fame. One would also expect the CVB would fall over backwards for Ms. Walden because of her last name. If she thinks otherwise, she is mistaken.

The reality is the CVB works hard for those that it knows and those that it has worked with historically. It is not open to anything new, is filled with stale ideas, and goes through the motions. That is fact, not opinion.

Given her diatribe against me that is best summed up as “Erick Erickson knows nothing about anything because he won’t get away from his computer” Ms. Walden should conclude, rightly, that I am giving voice to many, many people other than myself —people without the last name Walden who do not work for the Music Hall of Fame and so do not get fawned over by the nearly two dozen employees of the CVB (more than double the size of the Memphis, TN CVB’s employment roster). In fact, many of the people most concerned about the CVB are some of the more prominent people in the community who actually want to go beyond what we have always done. Now at the point of wanting to innovate for the sake of the community’s survival, they see what they have not seen before, i.e. a convention and visitors bureau in need of new blood and new ideas, not just additional blood and additional ideas.

Jessica concluded her post writing, “we’ve got a CVB that is a Macon landmark in itself.” And what do landmarks have in common? They are old, unmoving historic edifices. That anyone would consider a Convention and Visitors Bureau to be a landmark gives further proof to my point.

On a final note, thanks to City Councilman Erick Erickson and the 11th Hour for taking the time to come to Candy's Land. No matter what is said, just remember: Candy Lou loves you!

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