Smith County Jail vs. A Reluctant and Suspicious Public

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On Thursday August 15th, Smith county commissioners announced that they were putting a new jail bond proposal on the November 2008 ballot.

On Friday, August 15th, the Tyler Morning Telegraph published a story by Roy Maynard which quoted Judge Baker as saying of the new proposal: “I haven’t heard one negative comment,” he said. “On the contrary, I heard positive comments in the community and at church.”

Word travels fast in Smith county, but this is truly amazing speed. The proposal was made public on Thursday, and one day afterward, a newspaper story is able to quote the Judge as finding only positive comments. Given the fact that the paper comes out in the morning, the quote must have been taken on Thursday. How did the judge know how those in his community and Church felt about it, given such a time frame? Were parts of the community aware of this plan before other parts?

Either way, Judge Bakers limited sampling of opinions, in the limited time span, was apparently not accurate. All indicators point to the opposite opinion in the community. I suppose, however, that if you take your samples from a group of like minded individuals, with a limited amount of information available, it would be possible to come to such false conclusions.

Such errors could have been avoided had the community at large been made privy to the plan, and allowed to participate in community wide forums. Secret meetings, held behind closed doors, only serve to make an already reluctant and suspicious public even more reluctant and suspicious!

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