We heard something interesting on WIBX’s First News with Keeler in the Morning today. Ray Durso of the Genesis Group and John Swan of the Community Foundation were discussing Friday’s announcement of Genesis-Foundation-Chamber-EDGE joint support for the hospital.
Bill Keeler asked about project negativity, and they responded as follows (we are paraphrasing from memory):
. . . The four leaders of the “no” group are: a person who owns property/ies in the project footprint, a person who owns property near the footprint, a person who owns property between Faxton and St. Elizabeth campuses, and a former hospital employee . . .
From there, the discussion wandered a bit, but hearing the hospital opposition described like that–even though those stated facts are well-known and have been mentioned by many others before–got us thinking. Those four, especially the two self-described “co-founders,” are the most visible at their many media events and the most vocal on social media. They claim a wider following, but (as we have mentioned in the past), as is the case with any social media endeavor, a significant number of their Facebook group members aren’t from New York state–and several live in foreign countries.
This leads us to congratulate the four “noes,” especially the co-founders, for a fairly skillful manipulation of the community conversation thus far. They have managed to portray their limited opposition as far more widespread than it actually is, by means of (primarily) social media and other means. Their recipe for creating doubt and negativity about the largest public-private investment in our community’s history could be summed up as follows:
* Take two or four or (let’s be generous), perhaps, a half-dozen folks.
* Ensure that they have special and personal interest and/or feeling about the hospital and certain properties in Utica.
* Add, no doubt, their genuine love and compassion for the needs of the entire community and its future.
* Having preheated social media at maximum temperature, stir in assorted voices: some with deeply held beliefs and genuine concerns; others who oppose a wider variety of elected officials, issues, organizations. Heat to boiling, repeatedly.
* Continue to remove some ingredients and add others, all the while stirring and heating for maximum, noisome effect.
* Repeatedly report a “fire,” because overheating causes smoke; ergo, there is no smoke without fire.
What would Betty think? Since she was not a real person, we will never know. But the community support in evidence in recent days for a once-in-a-generation project of this magnitude would convince even a fictional character.