“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” — Most often attributed to George Orwell
“Lies can be verbal or nonverbal, kindhearted or self-serving, devious or bald-faced; they can be lies of omission or lies of commission; they can be lies that undermine national security or lies that make a child feel better…” — Robin Marantz Henig
In these times of universal deceit, the truth more than ever is hard to find. Despite assertions by my detractors, I place a premium on finding and telling the truth and believe it is the mission of journalism to do just that.
I grew up naïve, having faith that newspapers and broadcast media did their best to tell true stories so we know and understand what is going on around us. But now I have come to believe they too often are more interested in selling goods and services and in pleasing advertisers.
Besides politicians, the greatest enemies to truth telling, in my lengthy experience, are corporate executives, government and marketers. I choose to focus on corporate executives in this treatise.
I am prompted by the latest in a long list of lies by omission committed officially by organizations, this week connected to the tragic news of the death of Leah Sprague-Fodor. She was only 48, and because she was so young, many people have asked what could have taken her so soon. Of course, there are those who insist it’s none of the public’s business and she and her family deserve privacy.
Yet Ms. Sprague-Fodor was a very public figure. Only a little more than a year ago she rose from the ranks to be appointed chairwoman of the Gun Lake Tribe, overseer of the Gun lake Casino, one the largest economic powerhouses in West Michigan.
The daughter of longtime chairman D.K. Sprague, she assumed duties in June 2016, but was not reappointed two months later. James Nye, the public relations specialist for the tribe, explained, “On Aug. 23, the tribal electorate voted four individuals into office, which did not include Leah. The Tribal Council, therefore, had to select a new chair to fill the position.”
So she was removed from the top post only two months after she was appointed. The reason was not disclosed almost exactly a year ago.
Looking back, I now wonder if health issues came to light and became a factor. We won’t know if they won’t tell us.
This, on the heels of the sudden departure of Wayland City Manager Tim McLean, who had a ready-made excuse, but I don’t believe his upcoming marriage was an adequate explanation for his resignation with less than two weeks notice.
Let’s not forget we were never told about the reason for the dismissal of City Manager Chris Yonker six years ago. Let’s not forget Wayland Chamber of Commerce Director Denise Behm leaving as casino public relations director after only one week, giving what I believe to be a lame excuse.
There are many more similar stories of public people leaving their positions abruptly and unexpectedly, too numerous to mention here. And the public too often is told little white lies or the dearly departed’s departure is swept under the rug. Don’t forget the classic, “resigned to spend more time with his (her) family.”
After seeing and hearing so many deliberate dances around the truth, it’s no wonder conspiracy theories about the Kennedy assassination and 9/11 still abound.
I retain a huge amount of respect for former Henika District Library Director Lynn Mandaville, who gave me a rare, straightforward and honest answer why she was forced out after 29 years. I was so impressed I begged her to write a column for this on-line rag. I continue to be very happy she graciously consented.