Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Friday, January 16, 2009

Did David Pritchett really launch a City Council campaign by Facebook? Well, not quite...

Word on the street is that community activist and Off-Leash Public Affairs video producer David Pritchett apparently launched a campaign for City Council via Facebook last weekend. The truth is that a Facebook "status" post almost a month ago asked his network of friends what they thought about him running for council:

David Pritchett is thinking seriously about running for Santa Barbara City Council and wants to know your opinion about that.

Perhaps the confusion was in the wording as Facebook inevitably starts you off with the awkward “David Pritchett is…” when beginning a post on what you happen to be doing at that moment. If you’ve ever used Facebook you know that you are never sure what to do with it if you want to use the past tense. It’s also not easy to find the date as to when the post was made.

Techno-subtleties of Facebook aside, things got more confused when the item was posted outside of the relative safety of his Facebook network last weekend in a way that may have left some people thinking Pritchett was being more public about his intentions than what he had likely intended. What ensued was a Q & A grilling for a candidate who may not even end up a candidate and hasn’t even formally announced yet.

The ironic thing is that those of us involved with politics who also are technologically savvy have been waiting for candidates to get Facebook, blog, and social media savvy for several years. Das Williams did a decent job at it and others have tried – but there is a lot more candidates can do.

Pritchett, in showing his prowess at social media, may have shown us what other candidates have been afraid of…the anonymous blogger. Me? I’m used to people attacking me in their comments and asking me questions they wouldn’t ask their mother. I’ve learned to develop a thick skin and delete mean comments. Most candidates and potential candidates don’t have a lot of experience with that.

It seems like commenters can forget or do not appreciate how a new candidate is at a huge disadvantage when the discussion turns to topics they have not had an opportunity to write a white paper about. It is the commenter’s biggest issue and something near and dear to their heart – but the candidate may just need the commenter to help them form an opinion and identify unexpected issues, and, with apologies to Neal Kinnock and Joe Biden, build a platform upon which to stand. Hopefully Facebook, and local blogs like Blogabarbara can help that happen.

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Anonymous citywatcher said...

Interesting post. I'd seen the post and comments in edhat and thought that Pritchett was too much too soon. He's ALWAYS speaking at city council meetings, has been seemingly running for months. Nothing wrong with that; after all, it's the theory of advertising, get your name-brand out there early and often.

However, it would be nice to know what he stands for, besides, as he noted, his offleash, in your face history. Looking at his most recent comments, he seems to be a little bit less abrasive. However, he too often gives the impression that he not only has the answers but if anyone doesn't agree with him, they're stupid. That said, I often agree with him -- or think I do at least but the manner is something else again. A hostile or seemingly so attitude is not exactly a winning one.

As for your call for sympathy for the candidates ("It seems like commenters can forget or do not appreciate ...") it must not be forgotten that not only is David Pritchett not a novice at city immersion, but Council, requiring no formal background, is now paid as a full-time job with many benefits, not least of which is a major health care plan, all paid by taxpayers.

Instead of sympathy for the candidates, there should be sympathy for the taxpayer-voters.

I think it is WAY too bad that local candidates are emulating the national scene, with an endless campaign. Here's Schneider running starting with her Christmas card and now Pritchett. Give us a break!!!!!

1/16/2009 8:40 AM  
Anonymous David Pritchett said...

Too funny.

Last Saturday my Facebook Status message quoted here was posted at Edhat as a "citizen news" item, which then was listed in the Edhat email to subscribers the following Monday (12th January).

Here is that Edhat posting with some constructive reader comments and some others that are not so much:

Maybe my Facebook message was my freebie equivalent of printing and snail-mailing out holiday cards paid by my election fund?

I encourage Santa Barbara voters and stakeholders to contact me via Facebook.

Voting in this stand-alone City election will start in early October. Change is coming.

1/16/2009 9:20 AM  
Blogger jqb said...

Perhaps the confusion was in the wording as Facebook inevitably starts you off with the awkward “David Pritchett is…”

No, it's not "inevitable"; the word "is" is editable and can be removed.

The real confusion is due to the fact someone at EdHat apparently -- without asking or informing David -- posted his Facebook status blurb as a "citizen's news" item when it was nothing of the sort.

As for "anonymous bloggers", some people seem to have a lot of trouble understanding the difference between anonymous and pseudonymous, and fail to understand the internet culture and the common use of handles. Lashing out at and dismissing people using handles at EdHat for being "anonymous" is silly, ad hominem, and does not demonstrate the sort of temperament appropriate for an elected official.

1/16/2009 10:46 AM  
Anonymous Who's Afraid of Anonymous Bloggers? said...

Regarding the post:
"things got more confused when the item was posted outside of the relative safety of his Facebook network"

From my finding at Facebook, David Pritchett has an open profile, as indicated by the blue text for his member name. Thus, he did not seem to expect any "safety" or confidentiality by putting up that message about an interest in the City Council election. Any member of Facebook can read it.

And regarding this from the original post:
"may have shown us what other candidates have been afraid of…the anonymous blogger."

This also seems like Mr. Pritchett is not "afraid" of anonymous bloggers and their frequently vitriolic and idiotic comments. He seems to comment often at various blogs and simply just may not want to engage in a serious discussion with a fool or troll he cannot identify in Real Life. Just how serious should an anonymous blog comment be taken when the identity of the commenting person is hidden and may not even have come from a voter in Santa Barbara?

Sara should know that the body behind Nelville Flynn could have a lot of other pseudo-identities.

1/16/2009 11:17 AM  
Blogger Don McDermott said...

Go for for it David. For me not only does David have the "Blue," credentials (Sorry Bill C.) but I've appreciated Davids knowledge and unique style on the Creeks Advisory and Transportation Committees. Supporting or voting for David could be determined after he gets himself out there with his positions and we get a chance to compare him to other candidates.

Sarah it's too bad about the attacking comments you delete in the new blog or "social" media. But still it must be very interesting to consider the multitude of personalities especially for elected officials.

I've only been to facebook once and haven't returned to figure it out if I want to continue to be techno-savvy. Seems as though there are too many "media" avenues and perhaps I'm missing out by having so many options.

For instance; On the TV last year I think I actually heard a community member threaten to "permanently resolve" or kill a neighbor over an ongoing zoning violation at the City Council public comment period! On a Radio show last fall I think it was Council Member Williams who said he was considering re-locating to, was it, South Africa? I may be wrong about these two somewhat newsy items but then no one else seems to know about it.

With so many sources of "media" we're bound to miss details, be confused about, or have information or messages diluted. Perhaps thats why things are a bit screwy right now.

1/16/2009 12:23 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

I had to delete a comment that tried to identify someone as on of the identities that comment often -- and can't allow that.

Despite Pritchett's public profile on Facebook, usually comments are just shared within a person's network and not completely public yes, your picture, profile and a few things are....but there is a bit more control.

It is hard to take an anonymous comment seriously...should candidates not respond to them though when it's a flame that could turn into a Dukakis tank incident?

1/17/2009 6:10 AM  
Anonymous bias is as bias does said...

Sara---your decision to delete that comment really underscores your particular bias---in this case re: Pritchett---someone who wants to be an elected official----who sanctimoniously dismisses "anonymous" comments that others write---never addressing or being called out on his own legendary anonymous blog comments-----it goes DIRECTLY to the topic of this particular post.....which heaps sympathy on poor david for the edhat posts' comments-----what a farce.

1/17/2009 7:26 AM  
Anonymous just sayin' said...

Sara, as moderator this is your blog and you can focus on whomever, of course. But there are many interesting, well-informed people in Santa Barbara who speak at public meetings, do good work, write articles, and involve themselves in political campaigns and various issues around town. Yet the only one regularly written about on this blog is the ubiquitious Mr. Pritchett. For example, he touted the failed Measure A here, and ridiculed those who opposed his position. Yet his recent involvement in the Brown Act violation has not been a topic of discussion, but it sure would be widely discussed right here if he were, say Dale Francisco instead. Maybe Pritchett dances a fine fandango, gaining your everlasting favor.

1/17/2009 11:25 AM  
Anonymous Dude, wheres my city? said...

Citywatcher has issues, and is more like attacking the messenger instead of debating the issue.

Citywatcher seems to think that everyone else who writes a comment must only agree with him, and if not then the source of that comment is just someone hostile. Ive read some comments by Pritchett and he just seems like he is expressing his position as part of the public debate and to stimulate thought. I think a candidate is worse off f he or she acts afraid to say anything in a public venue, for fear of offending someone.

Citywatcher also cannot understand how someone can participate in city activities for any reason except personal ambition instead of a desire to make ones own community a better place to live.

Following the suggestion posted above, I contacted David Pritchett via Face Book as he suggested. I asked him about how often he speaks at a city council meeting. The answer directly from the source was that he speaks there about once every four or five weeks. That does not equate to "he's ALWAYS speaking at city council meetings" as Citywatcher complains above. With that standard to define "always" local personalities like Lee Moldaver, Kallum DeForest, Micky Flacks or Mr. Pennington would be a far more likely candidate for city council than a civic activist who speaks there every few weeks.

Besides, it seems that the quality of the comment to the city council is what matters, not the quantity of comments.

Citywatcher has weird expectations that city council members would be better and more dedicated if they were paid no salary or benefits. Should our city council just be comprised of affluent retired people, the idle rich?

Seems to me the council actually should be paid a higher salary to make them more accountable and obligated to take the job more seriously, and to attract better candidates who would not take a financial hit to become the publics servant. The city councils salary only is approximately $37,000 per year and it is indexed to go up or down with the county median income, which isnt much when Santa Maria is included in the calculations.

JQB commenting above doesnt get the point. Why would a candidate enter into blog debates with people with fake names who endlessly debate out of spite like a sport? The culture of blogging for fun (like I see JQB likes to do many places), is not the same as running for elected office as Pritchett is going to do.

Also, why does this posting at Blogabarbara have a label of "district elections" listed here?
Does David Pritchett support district elections in a city as small as Santa Barbara?

1/17/2009 11:45 AM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

bias is -- please see our community guidelines ('ve been around for awhile. I don't allow posts that refer to who commenters are in real matter what their political persuasion.

just sayin' -- I've never written about David Prithett before specifically although he has provided community posts occasionally. You are welcome to do the same! I know nothing about this Brown Act violation -- perhaps you could write about that! He isn't a public official so I'm not sure how he could violate the Brown Act. As for Mr. Pritchett's dancing prowess -- I believe he is a swing dance man but do not know for sure.

1/17/2009 3:01 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

Also, as for the district elections label -- a mistake which I'll take off. Google finishes words for you and it must have slipped political statement with that one at all.

1/17/2009 3:02 PM  
Anonymous Biased "bias" complaint said...

How does someone write "legendary anonymous blog comments" when they are anonymous?

Did the author disclose the pseudonym somewhere, or this all just more fabrication?

The original point of this blogabarbara posting is about how social networking web sites can affect a local political election. Seems like that question is getting answered when it is just a way to attack someone who is going to be highly public while attacking behind the shield of anonymity just making up crap.

BTW, Dale Francisco has his own ironic problems paying for the denial of civil rights, so that is not such a good deflection to raise here.

1/17/2009 4:17 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

The "legendary comments" assumes that the commenter "knows" who Pritchett is when and if he comments anonymously which is a ridiculous statement. It is fabrication in that it is impossible for myself or others to know who a pseudonym is.

1/17/2009 6:49 PM  

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