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DAVID ROSMAN: Where does First Ward Councilman Fred Schmidt live?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012 | 6:00 a.m. CDT; updated 4:09 p.m. CDT, Thursday, July 12, 2012

Two paragraphs of this column were removed after publication.

I sat across from a friend at Lakota Coffee Company. I’ve known the man for seven years, and the same thought enters my mind with every meeting: My grandma Molly needs to grab this man and feed him. "Eat, eat. You’re too skinny."

Our councilman from the First Ward, Fred Schmidt, and I sat talking about politics and his upcoming wedding.

We met to discuss Fred’s social and political lives and how the word on the street had become so mired in rumor. I had been reading posts from Mike Martin on the unofficial North Central Columbia Neighborhood Association Yahoo forum and on Martin’s blog, The Columbia Heart Beat. Or as I call it, Rumor Control Central. Sometimes Mike gets it right. Sometimes not.

Martin has been very busy circulating stories that Schmidt is no longer living in his home on West Ash Street because he has moved in with his fiancee, the Rev. Cathy Rosenholtz, who lives in the Fourth Ward. I’ve met Cathy and can say without hesitation that she is much too good-looking for Fred.

I also know some of Fred’s neighbors, and he does live on West Ash.

Fred has responded to this allegation during a council meeting and, with the grace of Martin, in The Columbia Heart Beat.

The problem with rumors, though most are based on some reality, is that they are usually filled with a lot of hot air.

First things first. The North Central Columbia Neighborhood Association Yahoo forum group is not the "official group" of the association. It says so in the small print on the home page: "not affiliated with the North Central Columbia Neighborhood Association." It is run exclusively by Martin, who makes it sound like the official group site, even though it isn't sanctioned by the association.

The official association message board is a Google forum. Pat Fowler is the president of the association.

With this knowledge, be wary of the fare the Yahoo group serves you.

Now that the source of the information is relatively clear, let’s go on to the steamy rumor of the month: Where, oh where, does Fred Schmidt live?

When I asked him that question, I was waiting for the spit-take as Fred tried to swallow his hot coffee.

Fred and Cathy are to be wed Oct. 20. (I am sure gifts will be welcomed.) Today, Fred lives in his home on West Ash. Cathy lives in the Fourth Ward. For the time being Fred’s eligibility to represent the First Ward is moot. Until Cathy and he combine their homes, nothing has changed. As far as I can tell, Fred and Cathy will be living somewhere.

As for Schmidt’s recall, this is really a no-brainer. Three council members are up for re-election in April, Helen Anthony will not be seeking a second term, and two are too new. So who is left to hunt? Fred Schmidt. Who is doing the hunting? It appears to be the same group that claims Schmidt does not live in the First Ward.

This story can go on for three full pages of the Missourian, so I’ll stop here, paraphrasing the advice the late-great Theodor Geisel, "Dr. Seuss," gave in his commencement speech at Lake Forest College in 1977.

"'To read these things,' said my uncle, 'you must exercise great care.'"

"'You look for what’s solid, but you must spit out the air!'"

And as you read the Internet bill of fare, here is some darned good advice to follow.

Do a lot of spitting out the hot air. And be careful what you swallow.

David Rosman is an editor, writer, professional speaker and college instructor in communications, ethics, business and politics. Questions? Contact Opinion editor Elizabeth Conner.


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Comments

Mike Martin July 11, 2012 | 1:57 p.m.

Some corrections regarding Missourian coverage of this story generally and this op-ed specifically:

1) The original Missourian piece, "Councilman Fred Schmidt cuts ties with North Central Columbia Neighborhood Association," was misleading. Please read the letter he submitted to the Council, in which he unsubscribes from a non-affiliated listserv he had already unsubscribed from back in April (if you're confused, so was everyone else.)

2) The aforementioned listserv, which I started in 2005 and have moderated since, is called "The Village in north central Columbia, Missouri." For years it has clearly stated: "Not affiliated with the North Central Columbia Neighborhood Association, a separate non-profit organization."

Your assertion that I am "making it sound" like the official neighborhood association site is therefore inaccurate.

3) Concerns about the Councilman's whereabouts came from at least four neighbors who live close to his "official" residence on Ash Street and a home he purchased on Anderson Street back in January, telling neighbors he was moving there.

As the Councilman notes in his letter, they filed complaints with both the city attorney and Office of Neighborhood Services. Those complaints went straight to a key City Charter issue: that Council members actually reside in the Wards they represent.

That's news, and the Columbia Heart Beat rightly covered it.

4) The Columbia Heart Beat ran one story about the neighbors' complaints and one story about Councilman Schmidt's response to it. Not sure how that qualifies as being "very busy" spreading rumors.

5) Your assertion that the neighbors filing these complaints are associated with the recall effort against Councilman Schmidt is inaccurate.

Please contact Mark Flakne, who is organizing the effort with Keep Columbia Free, and check with him if you don't believe me. Likewise, neither myself nor the Columbia Heart Beat have anything to do with the recall effort.

6) The Columbia Heart Beat has not been a blog since 2011, a move we widely announced.

Please check with Joy Mayer, who corrected the Missourian's media guide about that some months ago. The continuing references are inaccurate at best. One hopes they are not meant to be disparaging, at worst.

7) As for your final note taking a swipe at what you read on the Internet -- virtually everything we read is on the Internet, including this column. It's unfortunate many in the traditional newspaper industry refuse to grasp this simple fact, and one reason the dead tree biz is in such radical decline.

Mike Martin
The Columbia Heart Beat
http://www.columbiaheartbeat.com

Old blog site:
http://columbiaheartbeat.blogspot.com

RELATED:

http://www.columbiaheartbeat.com/index.p...

http://www.columbiamissourian.com/multim...

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams July 11, 2012 | 5:23 p.m.

Did the wording in this column change from this morning to this afternoon?

Are paragraphs missing?

(Report Comment)
Jason Entermyer July 12, 2012 | 8:33 a.m.

Great article David. I've never met you but have enjoyed many of your comments and you're right on about the perils of reading blogs such as Martins. Yes, blog. As a blog, writers take a portion of a truth, manipulate it into a wild story, throw a few links at it so that it makes people think they're true, and then post National Enquirer-esqe headlines.

Thanks for pointing this out and clarifying and hopefully, putting to rest one of many blog rumors.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking July 12, 2012 | 8:57 a.m.

Mike Martin wrote:

"As the Councilman notes in his letter, they filed complaints with both the city attorney and Office of Neighborhood Services."

Hm. Given the absence of reporting on this issue from other sources, I'd suggest the reason you find it newsworthy is you have an axe to grind with Schmidt. The original article:

http://www.columbiaheartbeat.com/index.p...

is written in such a way that one is left with the conclusion that he really has moved, where the reality of it is you had no knowledge of whether the rumors had any basis in fact.

Here's another example:

http://www.columbiaheartbeat.com/index.p...

Without a shred of evidence other than the fact this couple moved, you have insinuated that they couple moved purely because of the blight designation. There are many other possibilities, and you haven't seemed to make any effort to explore them (or even verify your insinuation). That's just irresponsible. That's not journalism.

Your coverage of the EEZ issue is more of an activist crusade than a fair and even handed examination of the issue (as the Missourian has done in several articles). Nowhere else has an EEZ generated anywhere near this level of opposition, and it's usually true that ususual levels of concern over an issue indicate unusual motives, or at least unusual bias.

That's why the HeartBeat will always be a "blog", no matter what kind of software you run it on. It's just your views. There's no one to tell you that you might have gone too far, or you're just spreaing rumors and innuendo. It's far too easy to push a personal agenda. It's a spiffied up Citizens for Justice, and nothing more.

Imagine the state of science (or even mainstream journalism) if all scientists or reporters could simply publish direct to Internet without review. Unfortunately that seems to be the wave of the future, and accuracy and balance is what we lose.

DK

(Report Comment)
Mike Martin July 12, 2012 | 9:14 a.m.

It's always rich having admonitions about truth and verity delivered by sock puppet political operatives.

Here's my admonition: Sock puppets who violate TOS -- "Use your real first and last name when registering on the website" -- discourage new readers from posting with their real names.

Here's hoping the Missourian does more to enforce this policy, which is clearly stated before every post.

(Report Comment)
Mike Martin July 12, 2012 | 9:20 a.m.

And I don't mean Mark (DK). Though we rarely agree on anything, he has the courage to use his real name and identity in his posts.

(Report Comment)
Joy Mayer July 12, 2012 | 9:25 a.m.

Good morning, folks. Since Mike brought up the use of the word "blog" in our media guide, I'll jump in here. (The news section of our Media Guide, which lists the Columbia Heartbeat, is here: http://www.columbiamissourian.com/p/colu...)

Blog is a word that has a lot of meanings. It has pejorative connotations for some folks, and I can understand why Mike would want to avoid it.

There are blogs that report the news using the same strategies employed in mainstream newsrooms, and there are blogs that have a clearly stated agenda. Most blogs, like the one I keep about my kids, don't have anything to do with the news. (For an interesting annual look at the blogosphere, check out Technorati's annual report: http://technorati.com/social-media/artic...)

I firmly believe, and I tell my students, that a blog is a system of publication, not a type of content. There are mainstream news sites that are built using blog software. There are sites I'd consider blogs that are built using other systems.

The Missourian maintains some blogs, and it's sometimes hard for us to decide what content goes on our main website and what goes on a blog. Regardless, the information was gathered and shared in adherence with our standards of publication.

In my mind, it's absolutely valid to have a conversation about whether information online is credible, transparent and responsible. But when we use the word blog to identify a type of content, we dive into murky water and are likely not all using the same definitions.

In case you're interested, here's a post I love about the line between blogger and journalist, and why one writer is sick of talking about it: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/notroc...

Joy Mayer
director of community outreach
Columbia Missourian

(Report Comment)
Joy Mayer July 12, 2012 | 3:12 p.m.

@Jason Entermyer, I tried to get in touch with you to ask a question about your comments, but the email you provided when you registered isn't valid.

I've disabled your account for now. Please get in touch with me if you'd like to keep commenting.

Joy Mayer
director of community outreach
Columbia Missourian
mayerj@missouri.edu

(Report Comment)
Elizabeth Conner Stephens July 12, 2012 | 3:35 p.m.

Michael Williams,

After publication, a couple of paragraphs were removed from the column. Editors decided the paragraphs made some personal accusations that were inappropriate.

Elizabeth Conner
Opinion editor

(Report Comment)
Jeremy Calton July 12, 2012 | 3:50 p.m.

Speaking of blogging v. journalism, wouldn't a journalistic publication list corrections and changes to a story?

"updated 1:28 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, July 11, 2012"

And I *think* this is just the most recent update, there could have been more.

What are the Missourian's standards on this? I assume it has some kind of policy on retroactive editing of articles.

As for the blog debate:
This is an opinion article offering first-person perspectives and hearsay evidence to counter rumors, receiving edits throughout the course of the day...that sounds an awful lot like a blog to me.

I say that without judgment; some blogs are very good. My point is merely that the line can be incredibly hard to draw and, as Joy points out, what crossing it means is largely subjective to each reader.

(Report Comment)
Jeremy Calton July 12, 2012 | 3:54 p.m.

For what it's worth, I began composing my comment, then took a phone call and posted subsequent to the call. During that time, intervening comments had gone up, which is why my previous comment seems somewhat misplaced. Somewhat.

(Report Comment)
Elizabeth Conner Stephens July 12, 2012 | 4:15 p.m.

The Missourian as a matter of course notes when we correct errors in fact. This was not necessarily a correction, but we should have been more transparent about changes made to the column after it was published. Thank you for pointing it out.

Elizabeth Conner
Opinion editor

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams July 12, 2012 | 6:14 p.m.

Elizabeth: Are the original paragraphs included in the print version (paper) that was delivered to the citizenry?

If so, it's odd the paragraphs would be removed from the on-line version.

(Report Comment)
Jeremy Calton July 12, 2012 | 6:18 p.m.

I do have one question for Mike Martin and Fred Schmidt (and, I suppose David Rosman, although I'd prefer one of the actual parties):

At any point, did Mike Martin ask Fred Schmidt directly "Do you reside on Ash Street?"

If so, at any point, did Fred Schmidt answer him directly? [Note the use of the term "directly."]

Seems like the subject of the story would be the best place to start for a story (and I do agree with Mr. Martin that anything being brought to the city/council's attention is worthy of research).

If Mr. Schmidt wouldn't answer, then Mr. Schmidt (or his proxy) can't really blame Mr. Martin for taking to Columbia Heartbeat to start asking public questions.

Unfortunately, even if he did answer in the affirmative, this creates an issue if, as Mr. Martin has said, there are multiple witnesses testifying to the contrary. So where does that leave a journalist? Should he just take a politician's statements at face value and drop it as a matter of course? Would that be the journalism Mr. Rosman is after?

(Report Comment)
Jeremy Calton July 12, 2012 | 6:24 p.m.

Incidentally: Charles Dudley is also eligible for recall and there has been talk of same. This would be the second attempted recall of Mr. Dudley.

But even to take Mr. Rosman's comment at face value (about Fred Schmidt being the only possible target--a "no-brainer") if 90% of the city decided that they were very upset with the council over the Blight decree, EEZ, and so forth...what would it matter if his were the only vulnerable seat?
The vulnerable council members should take that into consideration when voting on issues they should realize are going to be unpopular.

I guess I just don't understand the end of this chain of logic: are we to be upset with citizens for exercising a limited portion of their guaranteed rights because they are arbitrarily restricted from fully exercising them?

(Report Comment)
Elizabeth Conner Stephens July 12, 2012 | 8:14 p.m.

Michael,

The paragraphs were removed from the print edition as well. We removed the paragraphs on Wednesday a few hours after publication online.

Thanks,

Elizabeth

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams July 12, 2012 | 9:20 p.m.

Thank you, Elizabeth.

The paragraph(s) was certainly inflammatory. When I went back to make sure I really had read such a thing from David, the words were gone. For a while I thought I had seen them elsewhere, but...where? That's why I asked the question.

Thanks for clarifying. I must admit, tho, that I wondered "How did this even make the first cut?"

PS: LOL. Is David now on triple-super-secret probation for a week like the rest of us?

(Report Comment)
Mike Martin July 12, 2012 | 9:25 p.m.

The emails below may help answer Jeremy Calton's question. Councilman Schmidt did not respond, so I cleaned up what he sent myself and published it nearly two weeks ago (I was away on family vacation at the time).

From: Mike Martin
Sent: Wednesday, June 27, 2012 11:57 AM
To: Fred Schmidt Ward1
Subject: Re: Where is Fred...?

Councilman:

You must not recall but I unsubscribed you from this listserv after your notes to me signed "Robobill" back in April:

http://www.columbiaheartbeat.com/index.p...

You can't post if you're not subscribed.

You have also not responded to the requests I've sent for comment recently, so as I noted in the article, I simply stopped sending them.

Please clean this up and re-send (it's littered with code). I'll run it in all the listservs with our next issue.

Best,

Mike


From: Fred Schmidt Ward1
Sent: Tuesday, June 26, 2012 12:11 PM
To: nccna@yahoogroups.com; nccna-owner@yahoogroups.com
Subject: Where is Fred...?

I posted this earlier but it seems to have not gone through. It is in response to last week's Beat Byte.

Where's Fred? At home, of course....
<!--[if !supportEmptyParas]--> <!--[endif]-->
I live on Ash. I do not live on Anderson. Naturally, if you look for someone where they do not live, you will not find them. You will find them where they live. Ms. Rogers lives on Anderson. She is not my neighbor. I live on Ash.
<!--[if !supportEmptyParas]--> <!--[endif]-->
<!--[if !supportEmptyParas]--> <!--[endif]-->
Yesterday, a KOMU reporter Chloe Alexander, showed up at my house on Ash (my legal residence and my home in fact) to interview neighbors. EVERYONE she found reported that yes, we see Fred here all the time - that's his house right there. Some of them gave her clear details showing familiarity with me. Some spoke on camera; some demurred but gave quotes. However, the story didn't run...because there is no story!
<!--[if !supportEmptyParas]--> <!--[endif]-->
<!--[if !supportEmptyParas]--> <!--[endif]-->

....Fred Schmidt Ward 1
573-489-.....

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking July 13, 2012 | 3:00 p.m.

Jeremy Calton wrote:

"Incidentally: Charles Dudley is also eligible for recall"

You do mean "Daryl Dudley", don't you? I miss Chuck on these boards sometimes too, but not on the Council...

:-)

DK

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith July 14, 2012 | 6:21 a.m.

@ Mark Foecking:

I too did a double take at the mention of Chuck Dudley [Charles Dudley, Jr.]. I'm certain Chuck Dudley would have had something to say about the current situation.

(Report Comment)
David Rosman July 16, 2012 | 11:52 a.m.

Mr. Williams - The paragraph that was removed was done with my knowledge. There were several reasons I was given for the action request. The main reason was a quote I used, though accurate, was inappropriate for the column.

There are few "rules" for the writings of the local columnists concerning what and who we right about. When I stray from the basics, Tom Warhover, Jeanne Abbott and Elizabeth Kennedy Connor will be the first to question if I had once again crossed that fine line between genius and insanity (which my friends claim I do often and purposefully).

The Missourian staff is also to be praise for their continuous fact checking.

The paragraph in question will remain unpublished. However, its deletion did not change the sentiment of the column.

David

(Report Comment)
David Rosman July 16, 2012 | 12:14 p.m.

Mr. Calton - I am not quite sure what you mean concerning you question, “Would that be the journalism Mr. Rosman is after?”

As a matter of course, I do attempt to check all of the information provided by others for my columns in the Missourian and my own blog at InkandVoice.com/editorials. As I wrote to Mr. Williams, the staff at the Missourian does an excellent job at fact checking and I only remember a few incidents where my “facts” were not checking out. One of those was that the Web site I linked to was no longer available.

Please note that the online edition of my commentary usually contains numerous links to my sources. I have been told by members of the Society of Professional Journalist (no I am not a member) that this is a practice more bloggers should adopt.

Like most writers of opinion, I tend to rant a bit, which is not only acceptable but expected. I learned a long time ago not to take the contrary arguments of my opinions personally, unless the arrows are aimed at me personally. Even then my displeasure usually lasts a few days at most before I am laughing about it all.

(Report Comment)
David Rosman July 16, 2012 | 12:22 p.m.

Mr. Martin - It is unfortunate that your reposting of Mr. Schmidt’s response to your blog postings was so badly edited. It makes it seem like Mr. Schmidt was making not-so-nice remarks about you and your reporting. I would like to assure the readers (if they have lasted this long) that I read the entire exchange and the only harsh words concerned the Councilman’s belief in the inaccuracies of your reporting.

I do not know if the resulting post was an error on your part, on the part of the posting program used by the paper, or by other means. However, the perception of the formatting of your repost can be taken the wrong way, though I know this was not your intent.

(Report Comment)
Deborah Thompson July 16, 2012 | 12:49 p.m.

In case anyone wants to read the statement that Mr. Martin refers to in his comments: http://www.columbiamissourian.com/multim...

(Report Comment)

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