It is all so hurtful
Campaign abuses are bad, but we learned . . .
How to make a good message unpalatable
The Rodney Dow method of communication
Why go through all the hoopla when you didn’t even really report this allegation?*
SHOREWOOD, WI. (Feb. 19, 2004) -- I have taken the time to re-read former Village President Rodney H. Dow’s message to the Village Board, which he read in part at the Feb. 16, 2004 special meeting.
This message was a very important message to Mr. Dow, as he asked several times that the rules applying to everyone be waived for him and this message. The reason he gave for wanting the rules to be waived is that he had already prepared his remarks.
A similar plea was made to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorial board in his request that the word limit applied to all other people not apply to him because an editorial the newspaper published was so unfair the remedy would be for the newspaper to allow Mr. Dow to write something longer than anyone else.
Clearly, some people are more accomplished communicators than others, and some people are more analytical and wiser than others; those people we would benefit from their perspective.
So I am taking another look at the two-page message titled “election fraud” that, like many of the pieces Mr. Dow writes and that we have obtained copies of from officials who still are in government, was sent back and forth several times before finally being printed and distributed to our village governing body.
Discounting the 15 lines of header material at the top of the page, Mr. Dow has 57 lines of text he asked the Village Board to allow him to read although it required more time to read than the rules that apply to everyone else allow.
Because Mr. Dow insisted with such urgency and persistence that he be allowed to speak longer than anyone else because he had already prepared his message, I propose to look at what Mr. Dow has to say.
The meat of his message is this:
“I am going to report to the District Attorney that there have been violations of election law and I would like the Village Board and citizens to respect the First Amendment by urging fellow Village residents to not remove campaign literature.”
This is a nice message and one worthy of stating at the village meeting.
I have diluted Mr. Dow’s 57 lines to two and one-half lines. I timed the reading of the message and it took about 20 seconds.
But even if we use Mr. Dow’s own words, the guts of his message, even with the wordiness, adds up to just 13 lines – less than one quarter of what Mr. Dow insisted he be allowed to read. See our edited version.
What was in the other 44 lines that Mr. Dow so animatedly insisted on reading?
I’ll put the information in numbered sentences with two boxes to the right of the information.
Please print this out and complete the following exercise, then mail it to me at 4101 N. Prospect Ave., Shorewood, WI. 53211.
If the information in the numbered sentence was essential to the core message and should have been left in, check the “in” box. If the information was not essential to the core message and does not add anything to the message that Mr. Dow is going to report this matter to the District Attorney or that Village residents should disapprove of this behavior, check the “out” box.
It is not clear to me why Mr. Dow added all the superfluous material to his message. It detracts from the message and requires more time than is appropriate for a government meeting.
Why did it have to be read at all?
Mr. Dow challenged me in his message to join the cause because I am a “great believer in freedom of speech and expression.”
On Tuesday, Feb. 17, I sent Mr. Dow an e-mail inviting him to provide me with a copy of the message and offering to post it on his behalf.
I have not heard from Mr. Dow, so, because I do believe in freedom of speech and expression, I went to the Village Hall on Wednesday and purchased a copy of the message, which I posted yesterday.
In the future, I’d welcome Mr. Dow’s messages and will post them as appropriate so the public can be spared another spectacle like they witnessed Monday night.
Meanwhile, despite the urgency, neither Shorewood police nor the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office reports any complaint by Dow.
So, what is this really about?
Lastly, if Mr. Dow had removed the header material from his message, he would have reduced his message to one page, saved that much paper and would have cut the cost – to Shorewood residents, Foley & Lardner or himself, depending on who ultimately pays – by half.
Cutting waste would be a good quality in someone advocating candidates for public office.
Or is this a different Shorewood?
*As of Feb. 18, 2004 neither Assistant Milwaukee County District Attorney Mike Mahoney nor Shorewood Police Chief Michael Meehan could report a complaint from FORMER Village President Rodney Dow.