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Tallahassee Democrat Censored City Commission Candidate “My View”

Posted on August 29, 2016

Tallahassee Democrat Censored City Commission Candidate “My View”

City Commission candidate Steven Hougland, who is running against City Commissioner Curtis Richardson, told Tallahassee Reports that the Tallahassee Democrat required him to delete a part of his My View even after he provided factual documentation that supported his position on property taxes. An email from a Tallahassee Democrat employee supports his claim.

Property taxes had become an area of disagreement between the candidates in the race for City Commission Seat 2.

In fact, Mr. Richardson called Mr. Hougland a liar during the Tallahassee Democrat Editorial Board interview when Mr. Hougland stated that Mr. Richardson had voted to increase property taxes by 27% in 2015.

Richardson’s liar accusation, unchallenged by Tallahassee Democrat reporters present during the interview, was captured in a video that was posted on the Tallahassee Democrat’s Facebook feed and has been viewed approximately 1,200 times.

However, subsequent research supported Hougland’s claim that, in fact, Richardson had voted to increase property taxes by 27%. The Tallahassee Democrat addressed the issue days after the interview, but never posted the article on their Facebook feed.

In an attempt to refute a claim by Mr. Richardson that the City has not raised property taxes in the last 10 years, Mr. Hougland submitted a My View, around August 23rd, which stated that the City’s property tax rate increased three times in the last ten years.

Ms. Randi Atwood, the Tallahassee Democrat’s Platform Editor, asked for evidence of the three increases. Mr. Hougland submitted a document provided by the Leon County Property Appraiser’s office that showed the City’s property tax rate decreased in 2007 and increased in 2008, 2009 and 2015.

However, Ms. Atwood was “not comfortable” with the opinion piece and explained why in an email:

I’m not comfortable characterizing this as the city raising the millage rate 3 times in 10 years. They lowered it in 2007, raised it a bit (but still kept it significantly lower in 2008), then raised it back to the original level in 2009.

Mr. Hougland asked Ms. Atwood if stating the property tax had been raised twice in the last 7 years would be acceptable. Ms. Atwood still had problems and wrote:

I believe that would be misleading to call that “raising the property tax rate twice” without explaining that they first lowered it, then raised it back to the level it was.

It is important to note that Mr. Hougland’s My View was being submitted to refute Mr. Richardson’s claim that the City had not raised taxes at all in the last ten years.

Then Ms. Atwood gave Mr. Hougland a choice:

I can go ahead and publish your My View without that line, unless you’d rather I didn’t publish it.

Mr. Hougland acquiesced and the article was printed. However, the article was never posted online or on the Tallahassee Democrat’s Facebook feed.

“One of the frustrating things for me running against an incumbent is that the media has ignored issues that, if reported, would have raised the quality of the debate. The press is supposed to be impartial and not censor factual information,” said Hougland.

Hougland concluded his remarks by saying, “hopefully the voters will see what is going on.”

25 Responses to Tallahassee Democrat Censored City Commission Candidate “My View”

  1. Preston Scott

    Preston Scott Reply

    August 29, 2016 at 4:40 pm

    The Tallahassee Democrat’s incompetence continues. It is not the job of the platform editor, or anyone else on the staff including Skip Foster, to render an opinion on a “My View” piece. It would be reasonable to edit for length, for inappropriate language, or libelous content. In this case all that matters is according to public records Hougland was correct. The press is to report facts, not suppress them. Does anyone else see the irony in fact checking an opinion piece, but the same care is not applied to routine articles, yet when the facts are checked it refuses to publish them?

    • DavidB Reply

      August 30, 2016 at 3:37 pm

      Perhaps this is Skip’s “Schtick”…

      • News_Maven Reply

        August 30, 2016 at 4:02 pm

        Correct.
        Skippy is full of schticky.

  2. Steve Reply

    August 29, 2016 at 5:30 pm

    Well, this disregard to publish clear facts by the Democrat has allowed me to reach the decision of canceling the Democrat. I can no longer purchase a paper that is completely bias and not truthful. You have just lost a subscriber!

    • News_Maven Reply

      August 29, 2016 at 9:44 pm

      Steve:
      My work is done with you.
      Thank you!

  3. Peggy Reply

    August 29, 2016 at 5:44 pm

    The Democrat announced that it would no longer endorse candidates, but this is the same to doing exactly that! No
    wonder the paper is losing subscribers.

    • News_Maven Reply

      August 29, 2016 at 11:31 pm

      Indeed. The last year their wiki page lists daily/Sunday circulation figures is for 2010 – six years ago!
      https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tallahassee_Democrat
      2010 – Daily: 37,746. Sunday: 47,714.
      The most-current, 2015, is in Gannett’s Annual Report:
      http://investors.gannett.com/sites/gannett.investorhq.businesswire.com/files/doc_library/file/105721-Annual_Report.pdf
      On page 17:
      Tallahassee Democrat
      2015 – Daily: 29,317. Sunday: 43,587.
      For the daily number, that’s almost a 23% drop in five years! It (2015) is also about half of what they did a quarter century ago, especially on a Sunday after a big FSU football victory.

      And Leon County has practically doubled in population since then.

      Finally, keep in mind the way the Alliance for Audited Media “counts” the latest years is by counting digital subscriptions in with the print numbers, artificially inflating them IMHO.

  4. debra Reply

    August 29, 2016 at 6:59 pm

    To the Tallahasse Democrat: When did the local newspaper become so scared of allowing people to disagree with current ways things are done around here. What right do you have to block any individual? No wonder I don’t read your garbage anymore. So sad. Sure is a nice big building. How long can you maintain it without readers.

    • News_Maven Reply

      August 29, 2016 at 7:46 pm

      I believe much of the south parking lot is being used by the Ford dealership next door to store their cars. Maybe they’re making a buck or two off of that. About all they need for their bare-bones skeleton staff is that tiny front parking lot off Magnolia.
      Sad.
      In another decade, they’ll be long gone from there. Look at all the properties Gannett has sold, just in the last three years. Just a week ago – Nashville was put up on the blocks:
      http://www.bizjournals.com/nashville/news/2016/08/22/gannett-aims-to-sell-thetennesseans-prime-broadway.html
      Perhaps someone reading this who has access to the local MLS database can see if 277 North Magnolia Drive is already being “privately” offered?

      I think it would be perfect as a funeral home.

      Are you listening Bevis?

      • Jane Reply

        August 29, 2016 at 8:42 pm

        Dang News_Maven, don’t drag an honorable business like Bevis into this. Anyway, the property at 277 North Magnolia Drive already houses the mentally deceased.

        • RT Reply

          August 30, 2016 at 9:56 am

          too funny!!

  5. Jim Reply

    August 29, 2016 at 9:08 pm

    The Democrat is awful. They used to have a decent sports section about 25 years ago but only for FSU and FAMU sports. Now that’s just a piece of another lousy paper ( USA Tosay). Sad times when Good people are discouraged from politics because of the corruption, mudslinging, and fear for their families getting dragged into the cesspool .

  6. Ben Poitevent Reply

    August 30, 2016 at 9:30 am

    The MEDIA most dangerous to our fundamental freedoms is the media that has abandoned its duty to report the news and provide its subscribers with the unexpurgated opinions of its citizens, but provides instead, the news and opinions deemed politically correct by its editorial staff.
    The CITIZENS most dangerous to our fundamental freedoms are those who condone such media. For journalistic hocus pocus is nothing less than an assault on our personal liberties, rendering the understanding of current events, and evaluation of candidates by the consuming public, a flawed process.

    • Beth Overholt Reply

      August 30, 2016 at 11:11 am

      Well said, Mr. Poitevent!

  7. Ben Poitevent Reply

    August 30, 2016 at 9:59 am

    Exercise your right to be stupid, don’t vote.

    • Capt. Me Reply

      August 30, 2016 at 3:34 pm

      “Exercise your right to be stupid, don’t vote.”

      With all due respect Ben,
      There isn’t a candidate worthy of my vote!

      • Ben Poitevent Reply

        August 30, 2016 at 5:26 pm

        Cap’n, please reconsider. No candidate may be worthy of your vote, I share your pain, so vote for the benefit of your fellow citizens. You still have an hour or so. Ben

  8. Vic Aderhold Reply

    August 30, 2016 at 11:56 am

    In 1992 the Democrat had a daily circulation of 61,00 and Sunday circulation of 70,000. Today, the Democrat has (not counting on-line subscribers) 23,000 subscribers daily and 27,000 Sunday.

    Since 1992 Leon County has increased in population by 100,000 and their circulation has dropped 39,000. At this rate, in another 25 years the Democrat will cease to exist.

    • DavidB Reply

      August 30, 2016 at 3:35 pm

      Being a privately owned business (Garrnett), they will be canned FAR sooner than 10 years, and Skip and his buds will be on the side of the road holding “will embellish for food” signs in the not so distant future.

  9. J. Brent Pichard

    J. Brent Pichard Reply

    August 30, 2016 at 1:43 pm

    Back in the day when most media were suspicious of all politicians in both parties, there was a fair degree of truth to be gleaned from the public discourse. Today, however, a majority of media collude to prop up one politician while trashing the other. The media have chosen sides. Informed choice-making is therefore smothered in a blizzard of biased obfuscation. The TD is a small part of a global problem. Because it is run by leftists, it opposes a fully informed citizenry. As long as free market forces continue to influence a medium’s success or failure, those who sell bias as news should be opposed with the only weapon at the market’s disposal – your advertising dollars and your subscription.

    • News_Maven Reply

      August 30, 2016 at 4:09 pm

      Thank you for repeating exactly what I’ve been saying for a decade.
      I will not rest until the Philistines have been driven from our promised land.
      Gannett: Let My People Go!

  10. Sal Christiano Reply

    August 30, 2016 at 7:10 pm

    hmmm, maybe this is why I haven’t bought one edition of the Tallahassee Democrap for the past 10 years. Lot’s of other people feel the same way and have been voting with their wallets as well. Last time I drove by their office on Magnolia they were letting the Ford dealer next door use their empty parking lot. 20 years ago when I moved here, that lot was packed with employee cars… how the times they are a changing. Too bad the Democrap is still blind to the fact that people are tired of being lied to.

  11. Hope Reply

    August 31, 2016 at 3:50 pm

    Yet the Tallahassee Democrat irresponsibly published the ‘MY VIEW’ by Kristen Dozier where she was giving the CDA glowing accolades when at the time it was failing miserably – and a great cost – to the citizens public safety.

    I guess the Tallahassee Democrat has named the members of their club and it is the same usual suspects going forward. Again, when the media fails us citizens must do their due diligence to find the truth.

  12. News watcher Reply

    September 3, 2016 at 9:35 am

    Has this site shut down? What kind of a news site goes 6 days without a story during election week with a hurricane? Thank God for the TV stations and the Democrat to keep us informed.

  13. Joe Moye Reply

    September 6, 2016 at 10:03 am

    Remember when the St. Pete Times was offered here in their green boxes? They left our market a few years ago, because the industry wide trend of declining readership left them with not enough sales from boxes to be worth the expense. Ever read one? An excellent paper, if there ever was one. In fact, the paper is so good, it is used as a teaching tool for journalists. It is owned by the Pointer Institute, which was set up years ago to maintain journalistic excellence. Because it has the financial support of an endowment, it has been able to maintain its standards in the face of declining advertising. What we need is for them to buy the Democrat and turn it into a regional edition of their paper, now named the Tampa Bay Times. We’d have better coverage of international, national, Florida and local events, and investigative journalism. And a paper about 4-5 times as large, along with all kinds of features, including daily color comics that you can read w/o a magnifying glass.

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