Dear Mr Lautens,
To my surprise I attended the North Shore Mayors’ Debate at the Capilano Golf Club this afternoon. The surprise came from a misunderstanding led by my friend who believed that he was inviting me to a North Vancouver All Candidates meeting. I am a North Vancouver resident and since my Mayor enjoys acclamation to office this time my interest in this format was mediocre until the exchange between the West Vancouver Candidates (for Mayor) and the delivery of their message held my attention.
I am normaly cynical in judging incumbents and lean to the underdog (s) but I soon conceded that this is a one horse race, or should be, and I felt like rushing to phone my uppity friends in West Van and telling them where to place their bets. Mrs Goldsmith-Jones passed the post to Win, a furlong, or two, behind to Place came Mr Clark and trailing the field to Show ambled Mrs Vaughan. In this event Goldsmith-Jones shone like a star, responding to questions from the audience, with clarity, intelligence, fiscal knowledge and even humour and bringing them to their feet and I swear some were evne bowing before her and the shallow digs she received from her oppnents were brushed aside by her wit and demeanor. Mrs Vaughan frustrated the audience with her failure to respond to questions to the point when someone actually asked her to answer simply Yes or No and she went into a long diatribe providing the audience with more frustration. She trailed the field. Mr Clark tried to justify his reasons for running but he too was out of his league.
My reason for writing comes from a discussion subsequent to the debate when someone at our table stated that even if Mrs Goldsmith-Jones could prove that she could walk on water, Trevor Lautens through his column would claim that she had inflated shoes. You were referred to as the master of negativity and since I don’t read the North Shore News regularly and can’t recall reading anything in your column I will be interested to read the next week edition. I asked for and was given your e-mail address from the North Shore News since you make it public I was told.
Sincerely [name withheld].
Dear [Name withheld]:
Many thanks for your letter. I always appreciate it when readers – or, in your case, non-readers – take time to write, whatever they say.
I delight in the table talk that cast me as a master of negativity: In the evergreen words of Oscar Wilde, one cannot be too careful in one’s choice of one’s enemies. I much enjoyed your Win-Place-Show analogy, having once spent happy years in a thoroughbred race horse syndicate. Are you too fond of horse flesh and the turf and possibly a flutter?
I’m ashamed to say that I am so hardened to both praise and criticism after 55 years and 20 days in the newspaper business, and writing columns off and mostly on since 1957, that neither – praise or criticism, or even a couple of death threats and anonymous hate calls and letters – influence me much.
I hope you read the North Shore News Wednesday edition. The two front-page news stories report, and report very well, some information that you may well describe as negative regarding the mayor. And, after 18 years of contributing my daft opinions to the NSN, I have no reason whatever to suspect that the paper’s leadership is hostile to the mayor’s public performance, even less to her bubbling personality.
As for winning the charm contest – and of course armed with the huge advantage of an incumbent mayor’s access to information, staff and the tools of PR (like West Van municipal hall’s “Tidings”, frequently published in the NSN and which of course ignores all “negative” municipal matters) that part-time counsellors like Clark and Vaughan can’t possibly match – I’m not in the least surprised that you found the mayor the vastly clear winner in the debate you attended. She’s a charming woman. Politicians are salesmen. And saleswomen. They sell their particular goods through talk and image. Incumbents have resources at their beck and call that their opponents very rarely can match. Surprise!
I’d advise you not to trouble yourself reading my piece in tomorrow’s NSN. Very negative stuff.
I thank you again – very sincerely – for your e-mail. You do me a favour by writing it, intended or not. And I apologize for the length of this reply. Alas, I write all too swiftly, too readily, having been at the chore of using and abusing the language since my first story written in Grade 2 (it was so well received I was prodded to read it to the principal’s Grade 8 class – the high point of a “career” that has been progressively downhill since), which was quite a long time ago.
Regards, Trevor L.