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« The single most important post, ever | Main | RUCO »

Aug 05, 2010

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Steve

Ed, thanks for providing the facts in this discussion. It sounds like it is becoming less of a problem and that the library is being proactive in working with this issue. The posturing of Danny Thompson is unfortunate.

Ed Cone

If the messy process leads to a good, public discussion and some fairly broad agreement on how to proceed, then it will have been worth it...especially if it improves Council conversations as well.

jw

Thanks for quantifying "some," "many," and "great majority." Those words applied to that stack of papers made me think we need to rename the downtown library Perv Central.

Spag

He used the words "a number of them". 19 out of 100 is almost 20%. Thompson never said that everything in his stack of papers was porn related. He didn't say the "majority" of them involve viewing porn. You are misrepresenting what he said and there was no grandstanding at all.

The video actually makes Thompson's critics look ridiculous for claiming that he was grandstanding or making some kind of big scene about it. Even his motion is quite tame in its presentation. His motion lead to a thoughtful discussion of the issue and the options.

triadwatch

Ed as I have said before to you . How is the foi request coming on what the papers danny thompson held up at council meeting. I would think you would want to see the papers because there was more than 18 pieces of paper which is more than what incidences sandy has said happened. Let's see what is in the papers,

Bubba

"Let's see what is in the papers"

You will notice that the meme is now "it's no big deal".

Let those who promote this view validate their view.

Why does this sound like the same opus operandi used in the discredited anti David Wray campaign of a few years ago?

Michele Forrest

To further clarify "some", "many" and "majority", I transcribed Thompson's initial comments:

I was very happy to support, help find funds for the public libraries during this past budget time and, but when I was doing some research, I found out that, a couple of disturbing facts that, things that go on at the public library, and that with the assistance of assistant city manager, Mr. Speedling, I was able to find out that there are a hundred, more than a hundred incidences that go on in the public library, some that are probably too lewd or too despicable to mention here in this public forum. But many of them, a great majority of them, and I have this right here, are the incident reports of anything from indecent behavior to looking at inappropriate web sites. These are just six months of this year at just the downtown Greensboro Public Library. And as I said, the majority of these are where the security patrol, the Lankford Protective Services have to write up an incident report every time they see someone that's doing something they probably shouldn't be doing in a public library or anywhere in a public manner, for that matter. So, and a number of them, as I said, involve people viewing pornographic web sites at our Greensboro public library. And some of these, there's one where it was on a computer in the children's room. There's another one where a mother said that, who reported it, she had a child in a stroller and was in the library and saw this happening. It doesn't appear in reading it, and they're all happening in the afternoon, two o'clock, twelve o'clock, four o'clock, so I'm, what I wanted to bring to Council's attention was there's currently, there is a system in place where the security patrol officers are told to just tell the people to turn it off, and that's the first warning. And then the second warning, they're asked to leave for a day, and the third warning, they're asked to leave for 30 days. But I would like to make a motion that we institute blocking software device on our public library computers whereby access is denied and not able to be accessed and so I'd make a motion that we do that.
glenwoodobserver

No he didn't say it was porn, he said some of them described acts that he wouldn't begin to repeat, but, you're right spag, he didn't say porn...not sure why because that IS what he was trying to stop...and if all 100 incident reports didn't describe porn, then why use that number? If that is true, then, yes, he was grandstanding...albeit meekly.

Andrew Brod

Spag not like facts. Numbers make head hurt.

Spag

Maybe because he wasn't reading from some script or cutting and pasting arguments written by others and substituting them for his own so that he wouldn't have to worry about clarity, brevity, or misstating something.

This was no McCarthy phone book. If he wanted to pull that stunt he would've claimed that they all involved porn and he said on two occasions in the speech that not all of the incidents involved porn.

This was an unwarranted attack on Danny to discredit him for political reasons. The arguments against him are simply not supported by the evidence.

Tim

something tells me there are a lot of blank pages in the stack

Spag

And right on cue, Brod tries to make the discussion about me in order to bail out his buddy Ed without substantively addressing anything I've said or for that matter, the very "facts" he said I got wrong.

What facts or numbers did I get wrong, genius?

In light of that federal court ruling yesterday, maybe you should take a vacation to California with Ed.

cheripickr

"...many of them, a great majority of them, and I have this right here, are the incident reports of anything from indecent behavior to looking at inappropriate web sites."

If the number of incident reports in his hand totals "a great majority" of the denominator "over 100", then he is not grandstanding, if not then maybe he is, or at least exaggerating for emphasis. He clearly states that incident reports are not limited to "improper computer use", but rather "anything from indecent behavior to looking at inappropriate web sites."
Thanks for taking the time to provide the needed context, Michele, in contrast to the misleading cherry-picked excerpts first offered.

Michele Forrest

Let's break this down:

"...more than a hundred incidences that go on in the public library..."

Translation: The security guards stay busy at the downtown library.

"...some that are probably too lewd or too despicable to mention here in this public forum..."

Translation: Some of the stuff they catch people doing is just nasty.

"...a great majority of them, and I have this right here, are the incident reports of anything from indecent behavior to looking at inappropriate web sites. These are just six months of this year at just the downtown Greensboro Public Library. And as I said, the majority of these are where the security patrol, the Lankford Protective Services have to write up an incident report every time they see someone that's doing something they probably shouldn't be doing in a public library or anywhere in a public manner, for that matter."

Translation: The majority of what security responds to is people doing stuff they shouldn't be doing in public -- in other words, being nasty.

"...a number of them, as I said, involve people viewing pornographic web sites..."

Translation: Sometimes, people get caught looking at porn.


Ed Cone

Tim, I don't think the pages are blank, I think the thick stack is the complete log of over 100 incident reports for the six month period.

A reasonable viewer might suppose from the visual cue, and from Thompson's accompanying verbiage about "more than a hundred incidences that go on in the public library, some that are probably too lewd or too despicable...a great majority of them," that the stack of paper represents the scale of the problem, which seems not to be the case.

Or maybe the 18 reports are just really, really detailed.

Spag

"...that the stack of paper represents the scale of the problem, which seems not to be the case."

Yeah, if one had the volume turned off. Otherwise, Thompson made it pretty clear that he wasn't claiming they all represented porn watching.

One day you will learn that it's okay to admit you were wrong, Ed. In the whole history of your blog, I don't think you have ever uttered the words. That is telling enough.

jw


"Maybe because he wasn't reading from some script or cutting and pasting arguments written by others and substituting them for his own so that he wouldn't have to worry about clarity, brevity, or misstating something."

There would have been nothing wrong with his writing his motion out so that when asked to re-state the motion, he could do so. Nor would clarity been wrong.

I have no political ax to grind with Danny. I understand his concern. I have the same concern. However, the way he went about it was not helpful and did nothing to further his cause.

glenwoodobserver

Jw -
You're right and I think that is the point here...the motion wouldn't have been so mangled if he had spent some time talk with other council members, the City Attorney, and the City Manager to craft something that would past muster. Why he didn't do that, only Danny Thompson can say, but I think Spag is making this into an attack on Danny and I don't see that. The reality is that he didn't help himself in this manner with the way he presented the motion. I think others here, just like on city council, have expressed the same concern about viewing porn at the library, that Mr. Thompson has. What I question is chosen approach. It was poorly thought out and, in my opinion, doesn't reflect well on him. Dr. Wade bailed him out...bailed us all out from having to endure more of the back and forth.

Brandon Burgess

Funny Thompson "doesn't mean to put Speedling on the spot" but he calls his conferring with Neerman 5 minutes before the meeting a "courtesy."

Thompson says his stack of papers details incidents involing "indecent behavior" and viewing of "pornographic websites". I wonder how many of those reports detail incidents of loud talking and cursing in the library.

Anthony

A majority of something is more than half. A "great majority" ... well, I think we could all agree that a great majority must be 60 percent at the very least, right?

So if 60 reports out of those 100 dealt with lewd or indecent behavior, including but not limited to surfing for porn, then I'd say he was accurate. If it's fewer than 60, then he was exaggerating, to a degree proportional to the amount below 60. Can we all agree on that?

Now we just need that stack of papers.

Spag

That's fair Anthony even though I don't get the level of scrutiny over semantics that seems to be unfairly applied to Thompson.

Regardless, if those papers fall within the numbers you suggest, Ed will still never admit he was wrong.

That just doesn't ever happen.

bubba

"..but I think Spag is making this into an attack on Danny and I don't see that."

You're right.

That's Ed's role here.

Andrew M.

Danny Thompson obviously researched this for a while and yet he still managed to bungle it up. The whole thing makes the council look like a bunch of local yokels.

Konvoluta Staynburger

whatever they're doing at the library has lowered the crime rate and brought some much needed precipitation.

Mick

Is the discussion about library computers and porn or not? If the discussion is about public porn then waving every incident report regardless of offense seems a bit of grandstanding. No matter how vague the speechifying was or wasn't. But that is what politicians do I suppose. And bloggers call them on it and then argue semantics for numerous posts.

Note to CC and Library Staff types - Just keep moving forward on this please. We understand it may be a difficult task. Sorry, but it goes with the job these days.

I would think 18 reported incidnents in six months at one library probably indicates there are many more. To me this is NOT a non-issue. Fix it.

Jeff Thigpen

10-4 on this being a "serious issue". 10-4 on the fear of "overkill".

Junkyard Bill

If city council would hire more cops and station a few in the libraries the patrons would be less likely to break the existing laws. Enforce the laws we have before we make new laws.

Ed Cone

Mick, Jeff, JW, et al:

I think you are on target. It's time for a serious, public discussion of the issue of computer use policies in the public libraries.

The latest round of this discussion was skewed at the outset by the manner and content of its introduction at Council. That happens sometimes.

Now that the oversell has been corrected to some degree, we should continue to deal with the subject at hand. If the facts lead us to filtering, so be it.

Spag

Some of you live on another planet. Either that or you can simply admit this was an attack on Danny over politics. There was nothing unusual about his presentation or his motion. We have seen far more animated and dramatic behavior from other local politicians that never get mentioned here.

The goal here was to advance the following theme: Danny Thompson is a conservative who favors censorship.

Attacking Danny and then writing "It's time for a serious, public discussion of the issue of computer use policies in the public libraries" is pathetic and more evidence that Ed Cone cannot ever admit that he was wrong. This is especially true considering it was Danny's motion that brought about the "time" for that discussion.

What was over the top and overkill was the reaction to Thompson, not what Thompson said or did.

Get well soon.

Dan

point taken, sean - thanks.

Jon Firebaugh

I just don't get it. What is the rationale for NOT filtering porn at the library?
No child should even accidentally be able to access that crap at the public library. Why are we in the "enable bad behavior" mode? Let the creeps who want to access porn actually pay for it via the free market. The libraries mission is not to allow unlimited internet access, but to provide a portal for information and education.
Instead every left winger here wants to make this a "censorship" or "free access" issue when it's really the same old entitlement crap. Let the government give you access for free. If the information(porn) is available elsewhere, then the library is not infringing on your right to access.

On another note, isn't it sad that we need security guards at our libraries and schools? If Greensboro is such a great place to live why is this so? Not every community has this problem.

cheripickr


"The latest round of this discussion was skewed at the outset by the manner and content of its introduction at Council. that happens sometimes"

No, the latest round of this discussion was skewed at the outset by the manner and content of its introduction at this blog. That happens almost daily here. Many thanks to Michele for correcting it this time.


cheripickr

"What is the rationale for NOT filtering porn at the library? "

The fact that it was "their" idea. Every other "need more research" argument is lipstick on the pig

Ed Cone

Pretty much nobody is in favor of people watching porn on public computers.

The argument against filtering has been that filters can limit access to a fairly wide range of legitimate material, and that the scope of the porn problem may not make the cost in dollars and narrowed access to information worthwhile, especially if other solutions are available.

So we've got at least a couple of moving parts here.

One is the quality of the filters themselves. My understanding is that the software has improved, which could render some objections moot (I just assigned an article on filtering technology to one of my best reporters, and I hope to have some good data on this topic soon).

The scope of the porn problem is another critical variable, and this is why the manner of the initial Council discussion was important.

Overstating the problem is not the way to get a handle on it and then address it effectively. So it's vital to gauge the actual nature and scale of what's happening, and to consider what steps are now being taken, and how effective those steps have been and are likely to be.

Then we make a rational decision on computer policies for our public library.

Maybe that decision involves filters, an option that nobody seems to oppose outright, but one that many people would like to weigh carefully to see if it's the best choice.

Jon Firebaugh

cheripicker,
Ditto,
Instead of arguing the merits of the discussion, attack the way the discussion was introduced, mis-characterize it as grandstanding, just because you have this notion that the library staff was ambushed, which is completely untrue. Could it possibly be that Danny Thompson had some constituents ask him to bring this up? If not done in the public forum of a council meeting what action do you think the library staff would take? Take a guess. NADA The public is not served in any way by NOT filtering porn at the library. Let's see some arguments on the merits of not filtering porn instead of attacking a council member who is acting on his constituent's concerns. Take your best shots, but your arguments have little merit.

Jim Langer

The security guards probably write people up for putting their feet on tables, too.

It's clear to me Mr. Thompson thought waving the stack would be more effective than holding up 18 pages.

Spag

Keep digging, Ed.

Jim Langer

It may be sad, I agree, that we need security even in my area's little city-county library. Fact is, public buildings are a haven for everyone in the public; not everyone has the same level of manners or taste.

Maybe they should keep specific computers that have nothing but "artistic nudity" on them available in an area around the art books. Give 'em a little of what they want, but educate their taste. And hands above the desk, please.

Jim Langer

Jon, the library is cutting down on its availability with the throttling (unfortunate term) technology. Filters would cut out access to the art of many, many masters and huge numbers of contemporary artists, including a great deal not in the stacks. Shouldn't adults have access to those images at their public library paid with their tax dollars?

Thomas

"Take your best shots, but your arguments have little merit."

Prescience?

cheripickr

Jon, nice to see a face attached to the name. Always enjoy your commentary.

cheripickr

"Filters would cut out access to the art of many, many masters..."

Have you ever heard such bullshit in your life?

sean coon

it's amazing how some people can't read.

*no one* is arguing against filtering. have any of you hopped onto wifi in the atlanta airport? i tried to update my blog there and i couldn't log in, it was actually "classified" as porn (i got a web page in big bold red letters saying i was trying to access porn).

now, some people might want to throw the information baby out with the porn bath water at our library, but i'm not one of them, and it has nothing to do with being more liberal than the next guy. it has everything to do with not shutting down access to god knows how many legitimate sites at the library -- an access point online to which many people have no other -- while iterating solutions for a slippery problem.

here's an idea. maybe someone with some actual skin in this game -- you know, a parent of a child who frequents the library, someone from the "danny thompson constituants" pool -- could talk to the head librarian and form a timeline of how filtering has progressed at the library since, say, 2000, and where it's going now. you know, be proactive in a positive manner to create a public conversation instead of simply bitching and moaning, trying to label professionals about not caring about their jobs and what they do for our community.

these are LIBRARIANS not REAL ESTATE BROKERS. if they didn't care about their job, they'd, you know, go find a higher paying one!

if you're not the person to be so proactive then please just stop making noise and let our library do what it needs to do.

Ed Cone

Presenting the issue as "there is a huge problem and nothing has been done about it" was not a good way to start the discussion, because the extent of the problem may not be so large, and in fact something has been done about it, with quantifiable results.

But the discussion itself is well worth having.

Reasonable questions now include: how big is the problem, and what else if anything should we do about it?

CP, you seem to be arguing that filters would not block anything worthwhile. This seems to be demonstrably false. I think a stronger case would be that the costs of any such over-filtering are well worth the benefits.

In order to make that case, we need to assess the actual scope of the problem and the effectiveness of various remediation strategies.

Which is what we are doing.

cheripickr

yes, it's amazing how some people can't read. No one is arguing against filtering.

"Jon, the library is cutting down on its availability with the throttling (unfortunate term) technology. Filters would cut out access to the art of many, many masters and huge numbers of contemporary artists, including a great deal not in the stacks. Shouldn't adults have access to those images at their public library paid with their tax dollars?"

Arthur Bessenger

The discussion about how to handle porn at the library is one worth having, but the episode reinforces my impression that Thompson is not very bright, often doesn't do his homework, and hasn't figured out how to do this whole city council thing.

His own description of the stack of papers he was waving pointed to pervs in the stacks being a worse problem than porn on the screen. So how does porn filtering solve that problem? The fact that he called the librarian only five minutes before the meeting shows he hadn't really thought through what he was trying to accomplish.

It wouldn't have taken much savvy to bring a few council allies on board before bringing it up -- Wade and Rakestraw are always happy to pile on staff, Matheny is swayable, and Mayor Knight would have been sympathetic -- but he didn't bother. If he had, he'd probably have won.

It's not the first time he's showed his ineptitude. He asked some dumb questions about parking variances when council was discussing the LDO that showed he didn't even understand the current ordinance. Then he admitted he hadn't even read the thing, 6 months after it was released for public comment. Then he insulted the group who wrote it. Then he voted for it. What changed his mind? Somebody took him to the woodshed.

I've heard that Mayor Knight is quite disappointed in him -- he had high hopes, but Thompson doesn't seem to be able to cooperate effectively.

Spag

The Fonzie Factor is high.

"In order to make that case, we need to assess the actual scope of the problem and the effectiveness of various remediation strategies."

I think Danny did address the "actual scope of the problem" when he presented to the Council a stack of papers of incidents that occurred at the library and stated that "many" of them involved viewing porn.

But hey, he is one of THEM...

Backtracking and trying to pretend that this post and the one that preceded it aren't about trying to ridicule/discredit Danny Thompson may fly with the cheerleaders but not anyone else.

Caught in the headlights, Edward suddenly abandoned his tactic of making Thompson the subject of scorn and instead pretended he was only interested in an discussion of the issues all along.

Again, even The Fonz was eventually able to get the phrase "I was wrong" out of his mouth.

Ed Cone

Thompson overstated the scope of the problem, and Wade didn't help by saying nothing has been done to address it.

Neerman should have been consulted, too.

That stuff needed to be said. Now it has been said.

Earlier this year, I found Thompson to be a thoughtful and energetic advocate for the Google fiber project, and I enjoyed working with him on it. I would guess that he and I will be on the same page on some future issues, and disagree on others. We may, once the dust settles, end up in agreement on this one.

Spag

"Thompson overstated the scope of the problem...." How so, Ed? You keep saying that but never state where and how?

Mick

OBJECTION..... Council is badgering the witness.

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