I write about 150 columns per year.
Believe it or not, some of them are pretty good. You’ve probably noticed some of them aren’t.
Columns are like a long Facebook status wrapped in a rubber band and dropped on your porch. Only I never tell you when I go work out or show you pictures of my yummy gluten free lunch.
But doing this for a living is not for the thin-skinned. People are far more inclined to tell you what they don’t like than what they do. That makes positive comments and notes very valuable. They pick you up after so many people kick you when you’re down.
But one thing my experience in this role has taught me is that – just because it appears in print - my opinion is no more valuable than any other.
I write a lot of columns but they aren’t all destined for the Pulitzer committee. I have also learned that people may be informed, entertained or enraged by what I write, but they don’t necessarily care what I have to say.
I think everyone who has to do this regularly starts to think at some point that people are sitting in their homes watching the news and when those people see a story they begin to think, “I wonder what Kent thinks about this.”
I have learned that this is not often the case.
That is why I always write about topics I care about or find interesting and not necessarily the big story of the day.
It isn’t just small-time newspaper writers that fall into this trap. Bob Costas is a really good sports journalist. His flow in interview segments transitions seamlessly between planned and unscripted questions to tell a story very well and in an entertaining way.
But no one cared what he thought about gun control. And after a Kansas City Chief committed suicide, Costas falsely believed that America was waiting on his opinion on the matter.
The backlash showed that he got out of line.
With all of that being said, I have had a lot of people ask me what I thought of the Augusta City Council races that were decided Tuesday night. I have intentionally withheld my own opinion because I cover the governing body every time they meet and I don’t need anyone holding hard feelings toward me because I supported their opponent.
That being said, I will interpret the data from Tuesday night.
The voters told the council to change direction.
Page 2 of 2 - Two incumbents were defeated. Voting records are there for everyone to see. But anytime half of the incumbents running are defeated, the voters are sending a clear message that change is desired.
The message the successful candidates conveyed to voters was that the council needed to disagree but in an amicable and productive way. No one offered to be a rubber stamp for City Hall, but all of those who won Tuesday stated clearly that they wanted to change the tone and tenor of council discussions.
Voters responded to that. I hope they deliver.
Some on the council somehow think that their actions are so captivating that readers flock to our racks to purchase Gazettes after every council meeting.
Like most of Carly Simon’s boyfriends figured out, that song was just not about you.
The way the council handled its business had far more to do with Augusta losing its city manager than the content of what actually happened. If not for the apparent change in course signified in Tuesday’s elections, finding a replacement for Bill Keefer would have been far more difficult.
If you don’t believe those negative actions were costly, just wait until you see how much it will cost the city to advertise the opening and pay a consultant just to identify candidates. I don’t know how likely the council is to find someone to move to Augusta to take over a city and sanitation, electric and water utilities for what Keefer was being paid.
A pendulum swings until it can no longer sustain its own momentum and then gravity naturally pulls it back toward balance.
I think that happened in a political sense Tuesday.
Kent Bush is the publisher of the Augusta Gazette, the El Dorado Times, and the Andover American newspapers. He can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org