Saturday, December 5, 2009

State Sen. Steve Martin(R- 11th)Facebook & New Media

We all know that New Media has become all the rage and in recent years has been leveraged by the political community to organize, fundraise and simply to spread the word regarding issues. That said, what many local leaders are learning is that new media platforms like Twitter and Facebook provide a level of access to voters that in the past was virtually unheard of.

So whats the problem?

Well, access means accountability and such accountability is something all to often our leaders shy away from. We are seeing this in Washington, Richmond and now apparently Chesterfield where leaders must come up to speed on the true nature of New Media taking into consideration the good and the bad.

To voters transparency and access is never abad thing. To Party insiders and various politicians such access can create opportunities for gaffes and embarrassing events that can come back and haunt them come election time. A fine line always must be walked.

For example, in recent days the Army Col. Van T. Barfoot (Ret)story has hit national news wires regarding the Colonel's battle with his Homeowners Association over the placement of a 21 foot flagpole in his yard, which violates certain restrictions within the HOA .

Local State Senator Steve Martin(R-Chesterfield, Colonial Heights), in an effort to bring support to Colonel Barfoot's plight decided to bring the matter up by posting on his Facebook page alerting his some 3,600 friends and followers of his support for the Colonel. But in doing so, the State Senator enters that gray area of having to engage those who follow him on Facebook whom may have a different take on the issue. Afterall, while many people would support the Colonel in his efforts given his service, I doubt those same people would want their next door neighbor to erect a 21 foot flagpole in their front yard.

Afterall, as pointed out in the Martin thread regarding the Colonel's challenge Martin represents a large portion of growing Chesterfield County. This growth has been spurned by many large developments like Charter Colony, Magnolia Green, Roseland, Hallseley, Harpers Mill, Hampton Park, Woodlake, Brandermill and the list goes on that for the most part all of some Homeowner's Association rules or restrictions upon property owners within the developments. Usually, these restrictions or covenants are approved before closing on a property otherwise if a potential buyer does not agree with such rules they can forget ever closing. In addition each month these HOA fees paid by property owners each month further reinforce the contract they have to to abide by such restrictions.

Sen. Martin apparently believes that in the case of Col. Barefoot that the contract he entered into with his HOA is meaningless given the background of the party concerned and the fcat that Col. Barefoot is a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient. Martin even blasts followers on his page for mistakingly using the term "winner" instead of recipient in a harsh manner, but only apparently to single out those that appear to challenge his view on the matter. The use of "winner" is fairly common with those not familar with the honor or the military. Instead of merely taking a second to educate, Martin took the opportunity to throw a jab.

I say "appear" because Martin apparently singles out those that ask for a simple clarification on his position. Instead of clarifying Senator Martin engages in claims of rudeness and disrespect towards his position and merely appears to stand off posting his positon other than to say look at his record.

Martin has been the Senator for the 1tth since 1994 and before that was in the House of Delegates.

So last I checked Sen. Martin was indeed an elected official. Not only is he answerable to the people but it is our duty as citizens to seek from our leaders exactly what their postions are and why they see them the manner in which they do. Apparently, Senator Martin does not subscribe to this view. Martin was simply asked to clarify position of matters regarding the flagpole controversy.

If you read Sen. Martin Facebook post he fails to adequately describe the full matter regarding the issue. He states that the Colonle is a personal friend so one has to weigh that with any judgement, but the matter at hand has nothing to do with banning the flag. Martin seesm to subscribe to the herd mentality of such a controversy in that as patriotic Americans we all think that recipients of the CMOH probaly should be able to do whatever they want to do in terms of the flag.

But in reality, as a comment alluded to on the Martin Facebook page we are all or at least are all supposed to be equal under the law. A contractual obligation or commitment is legally binding regardless of who the party involved is or whether they are a CMOH recipient or not.

Many of you who comment here are veterans and we all share a big place in our hearts for all our vets and all those in the armed services, but even Sen. Martin knows this issue has nothing to do with the CMOH nor does it have anything to do with the flying of our Stars and Stripes, but has to do with the construction of a 21 foot flagpole by which to fly that flag.

I dam sure know that Col. Barefoot has earned my respect, but that does not change the fact that if he were leaving in many other developments throughout Chesterfield he would be violating the HOA rules as well with the construction of the pole in the front yard.

The issue is not who Col. Barefoot is but rather does his pole violate the HOA restrictions. It should not matter as posted on Martin's Facebook page who the person is with regard to the manner in which this issue is resolved and as much respect and compassion we have for Col. Barefoot's fight we all know if it were one of us we would not be able to keep the pole without avoiding a lawsauit costing us thousands of dollars.

What I find rather interesting is a local leader engaging the debate through Facebook with followers, but than when the discussion ventures into analysis of the issue seeks to ridicule and even ask for commentors to cease commenting on his page. In essence, if you do not agree with me and my views stay off the page.

Gee, does Senator Martin represent all the citizens in the 11th or just those that agree with him?

After evaluating the comments, I fail to see anyone acting out of line at all let alone being "disrespectful" or rude. In fact, people appear to be going out of theri way not to offend people by qualifying statements and even a few stating that they are sorry but they see it differently.

Frankly, these leaders must grasp both the pros and cons of New Media. Its a good thing Senator Martin is not a blogger because he very well may be too sensitive for that media genre. The blogosphere is brutal, but if you are going to put yourself out there on Facebook for constituents you had better be a bit more thick skinned than this issue has demonstrated.

Afterall, if you have the opportunity to check it out and if you live in the 11th it may be of interest for you to see just how your State Senator engages voters. I assume the majority of his friends are indeed voters or at the very least Republicans from the area.

I took a gander at some other local leaders and it appears to Sen. Martin's credit he Facebooks much more than most in the area.

In the end, I hope that Col. Barefoot is successful in having that flagpole restriction removed not just himself but for all residents in his community if of course that is the concensus of those living in that community.


Anonymous said...

While I think the Army Colonel deserves the right to display the flag in the manner in which he sees fit he obviously failed to either read or understand all the associations mandates.

Regardless it is obvious he is failing to comply with the agreed upon rules and ignored them by building his pole. Its as simple as that and should make no difference who is doing the violating.

Usually a homeowner must get permission from a board or committee such as an architectual one set up by the HOA before they undergo certain projects. Yes even landscaping and flagpoles.

People like Mr. Martin cannot preach to us about personal responsibility and doing what is right and than simply endorse someone blatantly violating a contract which they entered into.

Mr. Martin's logic regarding the fact that he certainly does not want to prevent citizens or HOA's from entering into agreements that he would not enter into- here an admission of sorts that the rules were violated- but than simply support someone who is violating that agreement on the basis of friendship.

This issue has no merit. The property owner is in violation of the rules. I agree that he had not been given the stage by Sen. Mark Warner and others we would not even know about this issue. They can fix matters behind closed doors if they want, but it really goes to show you that you have to know people in order to have things like this work out for you.

I agree with the notion had it been one of us we would be forced to remove the pool and spend alot of money fighting the HOA. And to no end.

It seems Sen. Martin cares little about the contract law or personal responsibility as far as this issue goes. Apparently, he is basing his judgement purely on emotion.

JoeinBonAir said...

The Senator should know better frankly. I thibnk he may be a bit peeved that his role has been usurped by Warner and Webb in this dispute given his claim of being a close friend to Col. Barefoot.

HOA's have tremendous power but it is tranaparent power unlike that of the Senator and other politicians. The restrictions are right here in black and white for all to see and the HOA routinely has meetings with homeowners to improve/update them. If homeowners refuse to be involved in their community, they have no one to blame but themselves when someone comes knocking at the door to inform them they are in violation of a restriction.

Anonymous said...

Alter the strange thing is the only person taking "offense" is Martin himself. During the election I decided to follow some of my elected officials who had joined the Facebook community to include Martin, Cantor,and even the CCRC. Cantor very rarely has much more than simply information about his comings and goings.

My one take away from Martin is he tends to be highly judgemental of people that come at ideas from a different place. He is lock step with what we have called the "good ole boy" network in CC and has been in politics in the area for quite some time. I think one of his friends even alluded as much to this network which may have ignited the fire in him. Martin and others are keeping a watchful eye on the growing middle and more moderate shift in the CC GOP. Martin is cetainly a strong social conservative and seems perectly comfortable with injecting releigion and faith in everything on his Facebook page. This of course his his right, but not everyone subscribes that that brand of conservatism in CC.

Rumors are circulating that after the next elections here in CC that Matoaca Supervisor Marlene Durfee could challenge Steve Martin for his seat given her recent popularity and apparent ambition. Any thoughts?

Anonymous said...

Durfee? Are you serious? She will be lucky if she is re-elected as a board member in 2011.

TC Robinson said...

Seeing as both Durfee and Martin's seats will be up in 2011, I don't think she'd wait another 4 years to challenge him. But I agree with Anonymous, she will have a hard enough time getting re-elected to the BoS.

Of course, if Kirk Cox gets a cabinet post, who knows what will happen. I could easily see either her or Omarh Rajah going after that seat.

Jody L. Wilcox said...
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Jody L. Wilcox said...

The new media is proving a hard thing to control for politicians and political groups (of all sizes and philosophies) since their primary objective is to control the message they are trying to deliver (not that that is a bad thing, just saying) to the public. Also politicians do not be caught saying something that would damage re-election. In an age where even a misspelled word can be used as some hidden slight to an opponents or group, the new media is causing new problems for politicians and groups who have carefully crafted messages and images. Being a person involved in pushing local politics to use the new media to spread their message, I always stress that you must be willing and able to engage the dissention in the comments section since your audience is more diverse than a rally or local meeting…..Also the “anonymous” nature of the comments section and the internet in general allows the person to be more bold in their criticism than they would tend to be in public….something most political leaders are not use too. Although criticism of our elected leaders has gained a more vocal outcry direct confrontation of these leaders is still quite rare…..also, as will e-mail, when one reads what is typed “on the fly” the intent can be lost n the recipient and can escalate unnecessarily do to this miscommunication. Senator Martin’s outreach to the public through Facebook is a genuine attempt to reach his constituents and we should applaud him for actually attempting to use the new media himself to this end and responding to those that disagree when so many other politicians and political groups are little more than fan pages with static content that comes from an admin as oppose to the person themselves.

Will S. said...

Very true and to the point Jody, but one must also evaluate the "response" by Martin towards potentially his own constituent. It amounted to "shut your mouth and stay off my page unless you want to toe the line of those of us here that are in agreement that my view is the right one" kind of condescension.

I do not think that is the tome any leader should take. It demonstrates weakness.

Alter of Freedom said...

Well, I got an email attacking me for "going after" Steve Martin and how if I were a "loyal conservative" I would not lend credence to such assertions being made by others who have targeted his social conservative nature.

WOW. Taking the defensive posture over an issue such as this is rather ridiculous. The post is more about the challenges of social media and the Martin example on Facebook was merely illustrating the point.

But, in case you missed it a recent post by Martin on Facebook quoted scripture. So, please if your gonna blast me in an email for making Martin's faith an issue -which I didn't- maybe he might consider not making it a focal point himself. Just saying.

Concerning challengers. Again the point of the post was more geared towards social media which JOdy Wilcox addressed way more effectively than I and not in any way was meant as somehow a call for the removal or challenge of Martin. I just feel that in certain instances on his Facebook page he speaks to religion alot and yet at times seems to come across anything but Christian. The case made in the post is such an instance where Martin crossed the line in attacking someone for merely speaking to an issue candidly.

None of us will agree all the time, but it is how we handle those instances where we come across disagreement or opposition that can really define us as people. I just feel that Martin behaved rash in his discourse associated with commentors and more to the point no one else in the discussion seem to raise their level of tone except for Martin.

I do not believe at this point that Supervisor Durfee would be a viable candidate for that office but no one really gave her a shot to win her current position either. Frankly, I would not underestimate her whatever her ambition. She put together a pretty effective groundgame in 2005/6. It was a packed field but she still brought numbers to the polls to win.

kentcabe said...

Better late than never................

Anonymous said...

This is such a great country. Morons in public office go on to a higher office all the time. Yes the dunce Durfree could probably get elected to the VA House of Delegates-proof positice of what is hurting America.

Anonymous said...

When turnout is a paltry 30% of eligible registered voters anyone, even a dunce, can win office. Low turnout is the reason incumbants win all the time. Its the same people voting cycle after cycle. Whats that saying about doing the same thing and expecting a different result?

Anonymous said...

Its not as if anyone threw a tomato at Martin. He needs to get a grip!

Jody L. Wilcox said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jody L. Wilcox said...

If Durfee runs, we'll just have to have a better cadidate to beat's all about organization and getting the message out to ALL voters on how a candidate can make their life better..not a selected few. The reason the voter turnout is so low is becasue the people running don't communicate to the voters the importannce OF voting in local and state elections and how it actually effects their life more than a federal election does...just saying

Anonymous said...

I think the 2011 turnout in the BOS and SB elections will be way up especially in the greater Chester area.

Say bye-bye Marshall.

Anonymous said...

I supported Eric Cantor (R-Va) but now that he is trying to take credit for getting the Barefoot issue brought to some sort of resolution he looks more like a tool.

Cantor boasted on his Facebook page about his involvement and yet some players pretty close to the situation on the HOA side of this debate have not had one word with Cantor.

So here we have a local representative in Martin, who his a friend of Barefoot apparently, out of the mix and than we have a U.S. Representative in Cantor claiming some sort of leadership on the issue but really not having much to do with anything according to folks on the HOA side. It really makes you wonder just who you really can trust to tell it to you straight and who it is that just wants some sort of political coat tail on an issue before the public.

antoniasrego said...


Anonymous said...

Martin needed to go years ago. He's not what he makes himself out to be. Durfee should have never happened to start with, but if she won his seat it would be a double whammy!
We get rid of her locally and him altogether!