People who voted against the parks had their reasons. But some were no doubt influenced by a questionable practice — anonymity in politics.
We became animated on this issue six days before the vote when an anonymous group called “Concerned Taxpayers of Fredericksburg” surfaced on Facebook. The group used six words and our newspaper’s logo to encourage a no vote on the parks, even though we had supported a yes vote. We found that disingenuous and stated so on their Facebook page.
But who were we arguing against? Who was behind this anonymous effort? Facebook makes it difficult to tell.
We repeatedly asked online but got no direct answer. It turns out our State Rep. Kyle Biedermann led the effort, filing a “Doing Business As” form at the county clerk’s office.
After the bond failed, it is back to the drawing board for parks advocates. Yet there is a weird feeling of “what the heck” over our state official’s energy behind this effort.
Why not just say, “it’s me, and here’s why I don’t agree with the bond proposal”? That might have gone over better than trying to remain anonymous, as Facebook allows and seems to almost encourage.
Other recent examples are not flattering to elected officials who use this tactic. The Victoria, Texas mayor’s business partners filed false Facebook accounts to troll opponents, according to the Victoria Advocate. In Lakeway, Texas, the mayor used a bogus internet account to campaign for two fellow council members.
Some criticized us for publishing that Biedermann was behind this. But among the six most important characteristics of what defines “news” — timeliness, impact, prominence, proximity, singularity and controversy — this met four.
How many times does a state representative work to actively defeat a local issue? Even withstanding a legitimate difference to the potential tax hike, would he have surreptitiously done the same thing in New Braunfels, Boerne or other towns he represents at the capitol?
It’s not that Biedermann differs with us on this issue. Anyone in a small town will have reservations about that quantity of spending. Perhaps it could be done for less. We are not civic project estimators.
But how this vote influencing was done leaves a bad taste.
Also, let’s remember: This town’s youth are not to blame for rising property values. Appraisals are based 100-percent on market rates. Any area that is growing in popularity will see its property values rise with its fortunes.
This episode is the latest dustup for our state representative. His combativeness with other local governments has led to a reputation of wanting to control everything, from city, to county, to school districts.
Perhaps the end justifies the means in some people’s mind. But just because one can do something anonymously doesn’t mean one should.
Someone mentioned their grandmother advised them to pick their battles carefully. That’s good advice for the one who represents us at the State Capitol. — K.E.C.