The Importance of Accuracy and the Pitfalls of Poor Propaganda

Posted on January 20, 2017

Todd Paris, Staff Writer and Salisbury Attorney

♦ Our beloved Editor is a kind, generous, and thoughtful man who loves accuracy and transparency. He chuckles when he hears charges from the Salisbury city government, well known throughout North Carolina for claiming grand successes for their abject municipal broadband failure and other hokum, who claims the RFP is spreading rumors or is inaccurate in reporting the news that some city officials want to deny and suppress. The RFP Editor knows the city’s “rumor control” page drives people over to RFP to read what we wrote and they stay. There is a good reason why Salisbury has earned the name “The City of Make Believe”.

We RFP contributors are aware of the articles our Editor rejected or erased paragraphs for lack of documentation or secondary source confirmation. He takes his duties very seriously and readers will remember truthful stories we broke like the Fibrant deficit, the Fibrant “run and gun’, the Empire Hotel debacle, the ex-police chief challenges with OxyContin and SPD’s Fibrant-induced skeletal staffing and the resulting massive crime increase.

In recent days, the general public was made aware, even the local media, of the level of obfuscation or carelessness perpetrated by local officials and staff upon the general public.  A quick review:

A special public relations “Rumor Control” page was set up by the City of Salisbury immediately following the November 3rd execution by police of a “no-knock” search warrant in which Ferguson Laurent was alleged to have fired a shot at a Salisbury Police officer who returned fire, killing the young man This question is not designed to solicit opinions of the shooting’s justification, but of the City of Salisbury’s “spin”. On November 3rd, “Rumor Control” refuted an alleged “rumor” that 10 to 12 shots were heard by witnesses. More specifically, “Rumor Control” reported, “Early reports are that the deceased fired once and the officer returned two shots.” After the Rowan Free Press published the Autopsy report on January 12th, which revealed “10 gunshot wounds”, “Rumor Control” issued a written statement denying 10 shots, claiming, “While the autopsy report lists 10 bullet wounds, it does not account for the actual number of shots fired by the officer.” In Sunday’s Salisbury Post, the account became even more surreal, when the Post ran a “Correction” which relevant portions read, “An editorial in Saturday’s Post erroneously said police indicated only one or two shots were fired, and that an autopsy report contradicted police accounts. The Post regrets the errors.” It is odd that as of Monday this week, the city’s rumor control statement of November 3rd was still online, and clearly supports the original assertion for which the Post apologized.

The result of this obfuscation is that a press conference was held at a local church by members of our Black community and as reported by WBTV and other local media where the community called upon the City to “stop deflecting.” The clergy says the city has to take ownership of this breach of trust and talk to the community. Speakers have begun to question whether Laurent ever even fired at the police as the warrant and number of shots are now called into question, particularly since no gun shot residue was found on Laurent in the autopsy. Citizens appear to feel “tricked” and the city won’t answer their questions.

Rumor: The City of Salisbury has not been truthful and transparent about the shooting death of Ferguson Laurent Jr. Fact: The City of Salisbury and the Salisbury Police Department have provided the public with as much information and documentation as they can provide in the midst of this on-going investigation. As stated two months ago, the City of Salisbury and the Salisbury Police Department cannot comment any further than the already provided information so as not to interfere with the on-going SBI investigation.

If I were on council I would suggest firing whoever has been in charge of this propaganda page or at least transferring them to sanitation or code enforcement where they would cause less damage.

Lynne Moody, School Board Superintendent was quoted earlier this week in the “Post” that the public school system would have to pick up all staff and debt expenses if any charter school in Rowan Co failed. Word has it that Post says they will publish a correction – though it was not the Post’s error – it was what Moody said. This was after a letter from North Carolina Association for Public Charter Schools on January 17, 2017 to the Members of the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education which reads in part; “

“It has come to our attention that at your recent board retreat you were informed that local school districts in North Carolina are legally obligated to absorb the debt of a closed charter school. That is incorrect. The governing statute, N.C. Gen. Stat. §115-218.105(b) State and local funds for a charter school, states very clearly: No indebtedness of any kind incurred or created by the charter school shall constitute an indebtedness of the State or its political subdivisions, and no indebtedness of the charter school shall involve or be secured by the faith, credit, or taxing power of the State or its political subdivisions.” The letter is attached printed below for your edification.

Of course, there is no link because this “error” has apparently been “all cleared up.” It might be noted that a Charters Schools are funded by the state and that each one established in a public school district takes around 6K dollars from the district budget.

Last but not least, is our beloved County Commission Chairman Greg Edds. After RFP and the media exposed his Declaration of Interdependence marketed to numerous municipalities as a document taken almost word for word from an Indiana document by the same name, folks started questioning his apparent claim that a group of several hundred had been meeting to come up with this little “gem.” It turns out that that group may not have been local, but in Indiana, or somewhere else. Expect a correction soon.

“He said a group of community leaders, modeled after the Global Vision Leadership Group in Charlotte, had been meeting for about a year to discuss the county’s issues.”

Edd’s recent hi-jinks including, but not limited to the what we call “The Declaration of Co-dependence, proposed clown signs on I-85 that looked liked public toilets at Colonial Williamsburg and most recently a multi-million dollar convention center at the mall that no one wants has – according to reports, created a loss of confidence in Edds at this week’s Tea Party meeting and the Rowan GOP Executive Committee Meeting and may have strained relations at Thursday’s Chamber breakfast where Harry Warren had the microphone unceremoniously snatched from his hand in mid-speech.

Todd’s advice for all? If you don’t know something, just say so, don’t make something up. Dump the propaganda/rumor control page. If you are a highly paid Manager or Superintendent in charge of advising a board or council, check your facts before you speak and lastly, a salesman’s stretching the outer limits of reality may work well in insurance sales, but has no place in government.

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