Hey folks, our first big election season s#!tstorm went down yesterday! And it got interesting REAL QUICK.
We've been talking a lot lately about the ethics of the media being in bed with local politics. That point couldn't be more perfectly highlighted, than it is by what you're about to read.
Before you point it out, yes, we all know (after we all googled it) that the word, niggardly, is defined simply as 'Not generous, or stingy.' Many people seem to believe, that the use of the word in this case, felt out of context, and was a questionable choice given the surrounding language in the letter.
I also want to make it abundantly clear that I am NOT AT ALL a fan of unjustly accusing people of racial insensitivity when I don't personally know their motives, and this is not a piece intended to do that. I believe misidentifying people is a huge and dangerous problem across the country, and has even crept into our small town recently, sowing seeds of undeserved division in our genuinely loving and accepting community. Going around accusing people of racism for political gain or attention is wrong, not only because it can ruin a person's reputation, but also because it dilutes the impact of the word and actions of true racism.
AGAIN ****This article IS NOT intended to accuse ANYONE of racism, however there are clearly parts of this exchange that were inappropriate, need to be addressed properly, but have not been. With that being said, it is my personal opinion that this entire situation simply should have been handled differently by everyone involved.
This is an honest, un-opinionated look at the factual answers I can offer you.
Ok. So here we go...
Politics is a wild game to play, and the people that candidates choose to rub elbows with can be a major factor in the rise or fall of their campaigns. Many have learned this lesson the hard way politicly.
Most recently here in town, questions have gone unanswered from Jill Pacetti after a huge campaign related mishap yesterday, as to just how significant her campaign manager's role in her decision making really is. My 904 News readers have bombarded us with articles, videos, and comments regarding the political manager's response to a request to be taken off the mailing list.
Let's start from the top.
WHO IS HER THE CAMPAIGN MANAGER?
Jill Pacetti's campaign manager in question is Michael Gold, who also happens to be the owner and editor at Historic City News, a local blog. Gold has some experience representing candidates. He also once found himself in the middle of an ethics investigation for his involvement with Mayor Nancy Shaver's campaign.
They were both ultimately cleared of any wrongdoing.
IS HE REALLY INFLUENCING HER DECISIONS?
First, to put their relationship into perspective, Pacetti and Gold are tied in extremely deep financially right now. In fact, the majority of her campaign spending at this point, has gone straight into Michael Gold's pockets.
Exactly how much power does that give Mr. Gold in Jill Pacetti's actions at the moment? Well, we unfortunately have some first-hand experience.
The first time I spoke with Jill Pacetti personally, I talked with her about booking a CONVO interview for My 904. She was excited about it when we talked, but about as soon as I could get back to the office, I found out that our interview had already been abruptly cancelled.
Gold apparently has so much influence over Pacetti's decisions at this point in time, that he promptly persuaded her to cancel our appointment for a CONVO. The only reason she expressed to me for the cancellation, was that that her campaign advisor didn't think she should do it at this time.
That makes Pacetti the only candidate in the commission races, across the entire county BTW, who has cancelled or declined ALL of our multiple requests for interviews. Each time, she's said that either her campaign manager, or her husband would not allow her to do the interviews with My 904.
ABOVE: Interview request regarding the monuments
My Third attempt to let her comment on an issue that she cares about, was again derailed by her husband and friends...
(My question as I was turning the camera on was, "What do you think of tonight's decision on contextualization?")
The pattern of repeated cancellations was disappointing, as I initially had high hopes about Jill's run, even announcing it as a positive on our site - HERE "Ready 4 Change..."
Today, people have been asking, 'If Michael Gold is such a major influence now, will he be a major influence on Pacetti if she gets in office?'
He seems to be a huge driving force in her every move, even accompanying her, and doing much of the talking on her behalf during recent radio interviews...
VIDEO: Gold discusses racial accusations (not against him) on Jill Pacetti's WSOS Interview
Even consulting with her before and after important public speeches...
ABOVE: Jill Pacetti and Michael Gold strategize during meetings on Confederate Memorials
In fact, people will often tell you Pacetti has rarely been seen without Gold since election season kicked off.
WHAT WERE THE COMMENTS THAT PUT EVERYONE IN HOT WATER?
So now that we have some context on Gold's influence on Pacetti's decision making, here's where yesterday's viral story comes in, and why people are confused about the answers they've been getting, or lack thereof...
On Thursday, Michael Gold gave what some perceive to be, a racially charged response to a request he had received, from a man wishing to be removed from a political mailing list which encouraged recipients to vote for Jill Pacetti.
As far as we can tell, a little known My 904 ripoff called, The St. Augustine Spectacle blog, was the first outlet to publish the following screenshot, along with write up from the local man who asked to be taken off the HCN mailing list.
Daniel Carter is that man's name, and he is by all accounts, a vocal Democratic party activist. He absolutely did use vulgar wording in his request, which he admits, however none of it appeared to be directed at Gold personally, judging by what we were provided. The blogger/campaign manager would go on to reply with words that would ignite a firestorm of articles, comments, and TV news coverage.
The original blog post has also been shared across many of St. Augustine's news groups, generating a ton of conversation.
Many, outlets including First Coast News, seemed to believe that Gold, calling the young black man a "colored," "lazy" and using the word, "niggardly" was extremely inappropriate and uncalled for.
VIDEO: FIRST COAST NEWS
FloridaPolitics.com and other news organizations across the state also picked up on, and published the story, and taking the same stance.
Soon after the news spread, St. Augustine residents across numerous Facebook news groups, directed much of their focus on people who pay Gold's bills, including candidates in this election that he works closely with. People began demanding that Jill Pacetti and Nancy Shaver denounce the comments made by Gold.
Even Deane Newsome got in the mix in his infamous 18,000+ member "Rant and Rave" group...
WHAT WAS TEAM PACETTI'S RESPONSE?
Jill Pacetti has been asked for comment by Carter, multiple news agencies, and numerous residents in the St. Augustine community, however has personally not responded at all as far as we've seen, or been told, at the time this post was published.
Her husband, however, spoke on her behalf to select media outlets, essentially saying that Gold does not speak for Jill.
I tried to reach out to Gold via Facebook, but he has blocked me for whatever reason. I am personally finished trying to reach out to Pacetti after numerous attempts have been ignored, or blown off.
To me, this all paints a hazy picture for a candidate who wants to represent the entirety of the population of a city (not just a select group of people her campaign likes). Not just hazy because of the words used by a close associate, but mainly because Pacetti has not once answered tough questions herself on this entire campaign, but has repeatedly differed to either Michael Gold, others in her family, or her camp for comment. We do not know what the candidate herself thinks.
Locals we talked to have expressed major concern that if she were to continue to shy away from tough situations while in office, we wouldn't be any further ahead then we are now with city government.
Many around the city are asking for her to attempt to distance herself from any form of perceived racial intolerance, especially since she is the loudest voice in support of the confederate monuments, which definitely don't need any more negative "racial" press than they've received on the last year.
Historic City News photo of Pacetti speaking at a Tea Party rally in support of the Confederate Memorial
Campaign photograph and Historic City News Facebook Cover photo
As for Mayor Nancy Shaver, she did address the issue, saying that Gold has no part of her campaign as the Spectacle story inferred, but that she does spend money and run advertisements with him.
He has been extremely close to her campaigns in the past, and Mayor Shaver has spent thousands of dollars with Gold.
UPDATE: Shaver did later release the following statement, announcing she would be pulling ads.
"Our City has a rich history of many races and cultures–and yes, we have our differences, but ugly hateful name calling is not who we are. This week a vile personal exchange between the campaign manager of a candidate for Mayor and the publisher of a digital news outlet became public. As a candidate, I have advertised on this outlet, and done so in my past elections. I have known my opponent’s campaign manager for years—and I’ve gotten along with them both. But there are standards of civility that I believe everyone has a right to expect—and more importantly to behave by. I will no longer be advertising with Historic City News. It’s time for the name calling to stop- whether it’s calling an African American person “colored” or tossing out the term “racist” or “white supremacist” (as I have been labeled ) to describe a white person. We are all in this together and can treat each other with dignity, respect and consideration even if we disagree. This is our hometown, and we are neighbors-let’s act that way."
Do you think this was all just a misstep or do you think it's a big deal? Should Pacetti even have to address the issue? How do you feel about media and politics?
Am I asking you too many questions?