In a story today the Bee talks about a tribute planned for Supervisor Bill O’Brien next Tuesday night at 6:30.. He’s stepping down after serving twelve years on the Board of Supervisors. As an aside, throughout the years even when Supervisor O’Brien and I didn’t see eye to eye he would always be available to discuss his decision making process and our differences. The Supervisor will continue to serve until the swearing in ceremony on January, 10th when he’ll be replaced by Kristin ‘the coach’s wife’ Olsen.
People always talk about ‘institutional memory‘ but how is it formed? It’s formed by an ongoing sharing of facts and memories with the group or in this case the public. But the Bee has already started the fogging of these memories. How did they do it? Simply by not repeating the facts. It’s diabolically simple when placed into action.
The memories or facts in this case are that at the last minute Supervisor O’Brien decided to make public his decision not to run after previously informing Olsen. So at the last minute O’Brien, by choosing not to run again, steps down and Olsen magically shows up at the County Clerk’s office, paperwork prepared with the necessary number of signatures and effectively becomes our de facto ‘new’ Supervisor without the voters having a say in the process.
Backroom politics at its worst? Hell Yes, but for the Bee to start the obfuscation process so quickly is not only almost unbelievable it shows the Bee’s willingness to be an integral part of changing the narrative there by altering the institutional memory.
One thing that will be hard to ascertain is whether it was the reporter or his editor that chose to omit the complete story. History would suggest the editor made the political decision stay close to the powers behind the throne. Once again the public was left uninformed and out in the cold.
But as always, in order to better inform the public, we’ll be keeping a close Eye On Modesto.