A City of Laws

GRAVITAS . . . . Fair and Brutal Opinion (Trapped by Facts)

Headshot of Contributing Writer Scott J. Graves
 M the Media Project

About Contributing Journalist Scott J. Graves in his own words

Scott J. Graves, Esq., B.S. Biology, M.S. Pharmacology, J.D. Law – Father, Born-and-Bred Gardnerien-American, Gardner Native of Acadien Heritage, Gardner High School Class of 1982, Gardner Citizen-Voter, Gardner Homeowner/Taxpayer, 30-year Gardner Business Owner, 30-year Gardner Lawyer, former 16-year Gardner City Councillor, former Gardner City Council President, and former Gardner City Solicitor and Head of the City of Gardner Law Department.

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January 19, 2022

Everything the government does is about the rule of law.  So, if you’re a journalist talking about local government, being a lawyer comes in handy.

In 1780, John Adams described our form of democracy perfectly when he wrote the Massachusetts Constitution: “ours is a government of laws, not of men.”

That foundational truth (if you believe in American democracy, that is) is that government is entirely based on clearly written laws – adopted by the consent of Citizenry (the people who are to be governed by them).  Self-government – by the consent of the Governed.   

This correspondent is a lawyer.  If you think that is disqualifying, we disagree.

This is not some zero-sum game we are playing.  Be a lawyer, or be a journalist – but you can’t be both.

City Hall has plenty of lawyers (paid for by you), and there are at least two lawyers on the City Council.  The Mayor has a law degree.  If anyone fears that GRAVITAS will have some kind of advantage over City Government officials – that fear is unfounded.

GRAVITAS is not just the free press.  We are telling you about your city Government. We are a special type of free press.  The kind that is willing to get into The Arena to challenge the most powerful people in our City – the Governing Class – the ones with every resource, and every advantage, at their immediate disposal.

We are not here to tell government leaders how great they are, or to coddle them, cater to them, patronize them, or to pander to them.  For we are all subservient to the laws we’ve created.

Let me be clear. we are not here to look the other way when they are ignorant of the rule of law. 

This is our Government.  This is not a game, or a popularity contest, or some hobby.  We have a duty, as Citizens, to watch our own Government.  This is not about being nice, or not nice.  It’s about protecting your own House.

Your City Hall public servants are just that – your servants.  These are people who voluntarily chose jobs that control the most important aspects of our lives – on your dime.

Some of the best journalists are lawyers.  We are not pioneers, it’s been done before.

But, let’s be clear: GRAVITAS has no choice but to write about the law.

Why? Because all governing is law – it’s governing in accordance with the rule of law – and GRAVITAS only writes about the City Government.

So, having a grasp of the law will come in handy.

It’s common sense, really.  To use an analogy: if you need an accountant for a financial issue, do you look for one who knows nothing about the Tax Code?

Nothing is more important to the preservation of our rights and freedoms than a free press.

That’s not my opinion – just take a gander at the U.S. Constitution.  The free press is the only profession that is specifically protected in the U.S. Constitution (hint: it’s in the First Amendment). 

We know what we’re talking about primarily because of our government experience, and because of our experience in the law.  Those are assets in the quest to bring you news and opinion about your Government.  Don’t condemn the chef because he went to a great cooking school, and you don’t shoot the messenger because he is too fast. 

If you believe we are being harsh, or unfair, to someone, ask yourself: who is it?  Is it some innocent Taxpayer minding their own business on the sidewalk?  Or is it some city official who is willingly and voluntarily taking part in running your government, on your dime?  Consider Carefully.

This is not the Hallmark Channel.  It’s our Government.  Nothing is more serious. And, it’s owned by the Citizenry. We have an obligation to openly talk about it

If you are a Government official, and you don’t know how to apply the laws to what you are doing, and you don’t know enough to ask the City Law Department before you make a decision that affects the 21,087 Citizens you represent, then you shouldn’t be there. And, if the free press points that out, you should be expecting it.

Running our City is not playing house. It’s not a pretend tea party with your favorite dolls dressed as kings and queens.  A government official’s position is not their personal reward for putting up the most lawn signs to get elected.  A government employee’s position is not some trophy they own as a piece of personal property, to do what they want with. 

They are in The Arena – and they chose to be there.

The rule of law confines these governmental officials and employees to act in our best interests, not their own.  They are there only with our consent, not the other way around.

Law degrees are red herrings.  If you are looking for politics, we don’t do politics here.  Therefore, we don’t do propaganda.  We don’t adhere to political parties, or bow to Super Political Action Committees (“Super PACs”) who donate tens of thousands of dollars to make sure you get the local rulers they need (not that you need) to serve their donors’ interests. 

Unlike the rulers they install, the Super PACs don’t tell GRAVITAS what to do or say.  No one does.

If our behavior amounts to the pressure-washing of “optimism” sprayed on everything City Hall touches or says, then we would be giving in to a behavior that in our time has developed a name: Toxic Positivity.

Of all the clichés that get disparaged because they are true, one of the most truthful is “ignorance of the law is no excuse when you fail to comply with it.”

In Government, it means our elected officials don’t get to make up their own laws, and ignore the ones adopted by the People.  When they do that, the Citizens have a duty to point it out – and do something about it.

That’s all we aim to do.

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