Thursday, March 8, 2012

Real Heroes, Less Suspicious

Two years ago, the Richardson Coalition, a political action committee formed to elect its preferred candidates to city council, created something called the "Real Heroes" award. Their voting procedure, requiring the public to submit their email addresses to the PAC, smacked of an email harvesting scheme. Many people were suspicious of the PAC's motives (and by many people, I mean me and by suspicious, I mean dead certain). I pointed it out at the time. A year later, the next cycle of voting showed no changes to the voting procedure. I again complained about it here.

After the jump, how's it look in round three?

Finally, in the third year of the award, the Richardson Coalition has finally dropped the requirement that you supply your email address to the PAC in order to vote for one of these fine, generous residents of Richardson to receive a "Real Heroes" award. Good for them!

The form still asks for voters' email addresses, but at least it's now "optional." I may be too soft a grader, but I count that as a small improvement worthy of recognition. It's probably too much to ask the Richardson Coalition, now that they've got the program going, to enlist a non-partisan, non-profit, volunteer organization, and not a PAC, to administer and award this well-deserved honor in future years. That way, honorees won't have to wonder if they are being used to further some PAC's political aims. Turning over the program wouldn't be in the Richardson Coalition PAC's own self interest, which is electing its candidates to public office, but that's what would make it the unselfish, noble thing to do. If they did do it, I'd nominate the Richardson Coalition itself for being "Real Heroes."

In the meantime, congratulations to this year's nominees. Our community is the better for their efforts.


Nathan Morgan said...

The Coalition's original email address harvesting operation was in the form of a bait letter mailed to registered voters in town.

Some (and by "some", I mean me and others who have higher moral standards) think they violated the legal prohibition on using the voter registration records to promote a private cause.

Very cleverly written, the unsigned letter suggested that recipients would be left out of the loop if they didn't sign up...more like left out of the noose.

Needless to say, they ensnared quite a few email subscribers with that stunt.

Mark Steger said...

To clear up any possible misunderstanding, I have nothing against PACs buying mailing lists or using public information to create their own mailing lists. I have nothing against PACs using direct mail to solicit monetary contributions or to ask people to register on an email list to receive future mailings from the PAC. That's how I found out about the "Real Heroes" award in the first place! I do wish this PAC wouldn't use an otherwise worthy program like a "Real Heroes" award as a way to further pad their email lists. And it appears they changed that practice. Like I said, good for them.

Nathan Morgan said...

The over the hill gang has crested the peak. Now that a sufficient quantity and quality of targets have been located, there is less need to use such trickery. Now they can portray themselves as some sort of benevolent society. Good for them. That's what marketing research experts would call success.