Wednesday, October 31, 2007

My Apology to Jason Porter and Others

In the October 25 American Fork Citizen, City Council candidate Jason Porter was quoted as saying, "We have one of the highest rates in Utah of violent crime. It is alarming to me. I want to bring the small town environment back to American Fork."

It is no secret that we have crime in American Fork. Like most Utah communities, we have serious struggles with methamphetamine-related property theft.

But to read in the paper that we have one of the highest violent crime rates in Utah was deeply troubling to me, and I suspect it was equally troubling to the other members of the City Council. I surmise that this is why Police Chief Lance Call was asked to verify and explain the statistic.

In a memo to the City Council, Chief Call explained that figures for crime in American Fork, which are tracked by the Utah State Bureau of Criminal Identification, have been skewed owing to the fact that the Bureau's figures do not include the population count for Cedar Hills, which is also covered by the American Fork police force.

Mr. Porter's supporters will have a hard time believing me when I say that it was in purely in the interest of correcting misinformation that I shared the chief's memo with the Daily Herald. Nevertheless, that was my sole motivation.

Unfortunately, the Herald took the memo to be a statement from the City against Mr. Porter. I regret deeply that my action brought about this misunderstanding.

I have tonight called and apologized to Mr. Porter, to the Mayor, and to each of the other candidates in the race. When the Police Chief arrives at his desk tomorrow, he will also hear my apology.

In addition, I posted the following apology at the Daily Herald, in the comment section following the article:

It was I who shared the memo regarding crime statistics with the Daily Herald, and I alone should bear the blame for any damage this action may have done to Mr. Porter's campaign. I have just called Mr. Porter on the phone to apologize, and now wish to offer this public apology.

I apologize further to the other City Council candidates, who took no part in my decision to share the information with the Daily Herald. I did not at any time discuss my action with them, and they did not put me up to it.

Further, I apologize to the City government and to the Police Chief for my action, which made the memo look like an official press release. The City itself does not take positions for or against candidates. The police department, in particular, has been very careful to remain apolitical. The Chief's memo was not intended as a press release. It was intended to correct a misunderstanding generated by skewed statistics, and it was in this spirit that I shared the information with the press.

Open communication with the public, including the press, has been a goal for me as a public servant. However, in this case, I should have recognized that sharing the memo would be interpreted as a campaign attack. I was naiive and careless not to have thought of this possibility. I recognize that this statement will be difficult for Mr. Porter's supporters to believe. Nevertheless, the fault is mine, and I claim full responsibility.

I have met Mr. Porter and been impressed with his intelligence and his sincere concern for the community. Moreover, I appreciate his concern for the crime that now exists in our community, and appreciate the fact that he is willing to make crime an issue in this campaign.
The greatest value of a political campaign is that it creates public dialogue by bringing issues to the surface. It takes courage to play the role of candidate and start the discussion. I commend Mr. Porter and all the candidates for their courage, and I wish them well.


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