In marketing and politics, it's the basics that sway the most people... move the most product. The basic motivations like sex, greed, and fear. So it's not surprising to hear some of these bandied about in local politics.
For example, in public discussions several years ago leading up to burial of Westmorland Stream where it runs through the park, a few neighbors said that, if the stream remained open, children might be swept away in floods. Because no one contradicted this nonsense, the stream was buried.
So in the interest of colorful reporting on local issues (like the Public Works Board meeting I attended last night), I'm going to hand out Fear Monger Awards to those who use the tactic.
FM 5--Warning of end of the world, comet impact, etc.
FM 4--Warning of major terrorist attack, raising the Homeland Security color code, appeal to 9/11 memory.
FM 3--Your children will be swept away by a raging urban stream.
FM 2--Your taxes will go up.
FM 1--Backyard mosquitoes will ruin your barbecue.
Now, some warnings are real, so how do we distinguish fact from fear mongering? You get an FM award, if your warning is unsubstantiated, exaggerated, or appeals to some stereotyped fear. Humor is often used, to plant the seed, yet pretend you aren't really serious.
Now, let's apply this rating to last night's Board of Public Works hearing:
Alder Paul Skidmore, FM 1.5 ...for implying with a colorful story that our basements might be filled with raw sewage if we don't take action in the greenway.
Mr. Ozanne, FM 1 ... for implying mosquitoes, the state bird, would carry us away if we allow dams in the greenway.
Unnamed person who complained to City Engineering, FM 1.5 ... as reported at the meeting, for saying garages might topple into the greenway's ravine if the erosion wasn't stopped.
As Winston Churchill said, "there's nothing to fear but fear-mongering itself."