Grade This: Shady Or Not?

What if it were you?
Someone writes a condemnatory report about your co-workers. They’re going to make it public in a few days. They send you a copy ahead of time. In the meanwhile, they want you to keep their report quiet until they publish it.

Most #teamanywhere members would probably give a headsup to the co-worker. At least warn them the negative report is coming.
What would you do? The actual outcome probably depends on your personality, whether or not you like the co-worker and/or the article writer. how much you like them and respect them, and what you would gain.

In February 2018 this very thing happened in Hope Mills.
Bill Bowman was taking money from the town for producing promotional, congratulatory, positive articles about the town. The new board was just a few months into their terms, and most of that was holidays. They had not made any big, controversial decisions yet. The biggest hullabaloo at the time was about social media and some people being shut out of a closed group online, and Commissioner Larson was leading the board’s idea of ending the “good news” publishing program.

For reasons only he can answer, shortly thereafter, Bowman wrote an editorial about Hope Mills’ fairly-new leadership that included among other things aspersions, allegations, and suspicions about Commissioner Larson and Lisa Carter Waring. A couple days before it was due to be published, he sent a copy to the mayor.

Bowman emails the article

There’s no word on why the article needed the mayor’s sole approval, but that’s what it got. The mayor replied “Just wow. Great article.” “Just wow” was a popular internet reply at the time, but she didn’t go into any more details.

Mayor Warner approves an article that’s not “positive news” at all

There’s no word on why Mayor Warner liked the article, but the article itself was not “great” at all, unless you enjoy poorly-written hit pieces or just naturally agree with its content. Some people seem to.

The story was published and thus commenced an 18-month smear campaign against Commissioner Larson that continues to this day and has only spread to other commissioner targets. An Up & Coming partner blog has published multiple rebuttals of Larson’s words this week. Earl Vaughan has said he’s writing another commentary that’s coming out next week about her. Commissioner Larson’s not even running this election. And Lisa Carter Waring was never running.

If this is how politics and print work together, then it’s probably good that the town is no longer in the “pay your money to print good news” business any more, not that the idea was great to begin with.

Think back on it. Do you consider this email exchange/approval by the mayor “transparent and honest” or “shady backdoor” work? If you were a #teamleader, would it be something you keep a secret from the people who are smeared in it, even though the article’s going to be printed in a couple of days anyway? Whom do you choose to serve and make your priority?

Would you trust your leaders at work or church or cheerleading or school if they did things like this? Saw you hanging…left you hanging…and congratulated your co-worker’s executioner?

If you were on a #team where this kind of thing happened, and then became the norm for 18 months, would that affect your response?

8:58PM 7/28/2019 ERRATA: The initial version of this article included the town manager as a recipient of Bowman’s email above. At the time of writing, we were giving the benefit of the doubt to Bowman and thinking of the email as probably some part of town staff notification/approval of the contents of the Hope Mills Initiative articles. The town manager was not included on that email nor was approval or notification ever part of the Hope Mills Initiative.

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