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2014/4/19 - Videos: Lewisville City Council Retreat - April 17th, 18th, 19th
2014/4/18 - Council Offering Donna Barron the City Manager Post
2014/4/17 - Video: Trustee Candidates at LTJ/Parents4LISD Student Voter Forum
2014/4/17 - Board Tours LISD Westside Aquatic Center
2014/4/13 - LTJ, Parents4LISD to Host Student Voter Forum April 15th
2014/4/13 - Sunday Morning Update - Almost Tax Day Edition
2014/4/11 - City-wide Spring Cleanup Set for Saturday, April 26th
2014/4/11 - Sheriff's Office Warns About Bogus Warrant Calls
2014/4/9 - Updated: FBI Announces Arrests in Child Sex Trafficking Cases
2014/4/7 - Lewisville Woman Wins Big on Price is Right 8,000th Episode
2014/4/7 - Lewisville Implements Year-Round Water Restrictions
2014/4/5 - Flower Mound to Use Social Media to Warn About Traffic Enforcement
2014/4/5 - Friends of the Library Host Book Sale Saturday and Sunday
2014/4/1 - Lewisville Buys Land Previously Proposed as Gas Drilling Site
2014/4/1 - Lewisville Resident Makes Splash in Neighborhood with Free Beer
2014/3/31 - Annual Charity Art Gala Scheduled for April 18th
2014/3/29 - Saturday Morning Update
2014/3/26 - Video: 35Express Project Holds Community Meeting in Lewisville
2014/3/24 - Old Town Resident Opens Little Free Library
2014/3/23 - LISD School Board Meeting Notes - March 17th, 2014
2014/3/18 - Economic Development Agreement Reached for Three Restaurants to Se...
2014/3/13 - Thursday Night Update
2014/3/8 - Dutch Oven Cookers Share Food, Fellowship, and Fun
2014/3/4 - Election Results - March 4th, 2014 Primary Election
2014/3/4 - Council Renews Waste Management Contract, Goes to Once-a-Week Garb...
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Full Disclosure

The Editor's Column
Posted by WhosPlayin on 2010/11/18 1:50:00 (7058 reads)

Open in new windowWhen I first started this site, I didn't really consider that I had any responsibilities to anyone. I wrote what I wanted, without much thought about how it was being received, and whether anyone thought it was credible.

Since then, it seems to have picked up a following, and as time has gone on I have felt more and more responsible for making sure that what I print here is credible and trustworthy. I think most people sort of intuitively understand that although we do sometimes DO journalism here, the standards of objectivity are somewhat less than they would be for a mainstream print media source.

I don't know that I could volunteer countless hours of my time doing this blog, and bringing news and information to this site for essentially no pay, unless I'm allowed to sometimes be biased and non-objective. At heart, I'll freely admit that I'm an activist who cares very much about his country and his community. Making things better is one of my goals. So, in some cases, I'm doing journalism by covering a story of interest. In other cases, I'm part of the story - either by my direct actions to help make it better, or by the act of the investigation.

In any case, although I don't consider this blog to be about me, I do strive to make it clear when I'm providing information versus when I'm providing my opinion on something. I think most of the people who read this column are pretty intelligent and discerning, and are easily able to figure that out. But whether or not you agree with me, I hope the readers will trust that when I present something as fact, it is backed up with research, and is either first-hand knowledge, or picked up from reputable sources - which most of the time I'll link to.

A lot of the time, blogs become something of an echo chamber, repeating the same assertions from other not-so-reliable sources. Sometimes opinion is repeated so many times, it's presented as fact. Other times on blogs, things that seem to be true, at least from early evidence, are passed along as fact without a thoughtful analysis or thorough vetting.

On this blog, I sometimes bring an early version of a story before all the facts are known, but I try to be clear about that. If it turns out I've got something wrong, I try to correct it. It's not a perfect process, but that's what it is. I'll keep working at it, because whether or not we agree on how to interpret the facts, and what the best course of action is, I think we can agree that facts are important, and we can never really advance our society and the way it's governed until we all get better about getting the facts out there.

One thing I can do to help readers get a better interpretation of what I write, and the biases I may bring, is to be open and honest about where I stand, and what my interests are. So to the extent that I may be involved in things that I write about, I think full disclosure is in order. Here are some of my disclosures:



Identity
My name is Steve Southwell. I write with the handle WhosPlayin not to hide who I am, but because I just feel weird about the self-promotion of having my name on each post. My contact information is in the Submit Tips page. The Lewisville Texan Journal (formerly WhosPlayin.com) is a business unit of SagePost, Inc., which owns this site and holds copyright to my posts. Other posts are the property of their original authors, but The Lewisville Texan Journal has perpetual rights to display and use the collected works.

Funding
This site is run on a shoe-string. Advertising revenue pays most of the costs, but we also get donations (see the link on the right) and go out of pocket for expenses like records requests and camera equipment and software. I hope someday I'll find a way to make the site profitable, but for now, I do this for the love of it.

Employment
I'm employed as an IT Consultant / computer programmer, and I work for clients in various industries. I'm not involved at all in providing any advice or working with them on any matters involving local governments that I cover here. I keep my employment strictly professional, and try not to mix politics in any way. My opinions are my own and in no way reflect my employer or my clients, and vice versa.

I don't specifically list my employer's name, because I don't want anything I say or do here to reflect on them in any way.

Investments
I have investments held through my 401(k) plan, most of which are in mutual funds, but a large portion of which is in the stock of my employer. The employer owns natural gas pipelines and gas and electric utility companies, mostly in the Eastern U.S. Although the company has a similar name to a local gas production company, it is a completely unrelated company. This ownership makes no difference in what I write, or how I write it. I might occasionally write something about my job, but I don't write about my employer.

Participation
I am a board member for Central Park Area Neighbors Association (CPANA), a non-profit neighborhood group formed to deal with oil and gas lease offers and negotiate terms for leases in the Southern Lewisville neighborhoods around Central Park. Because of my leadership role in the group, I leased my minerals as a show of good faith after negotiating the terms for nearly 800 families in Southern Lewisville. From this, I expect that I may earn an eventual $40 per month for my small lot.

I was a citizen member of an ad-hoc Oil and Gas stakeholder group with the City of Lewisville. This group is composed of city staff, myself, and representatives of several oil and gas operators: Williams, Chesapeake, and Titan. The purpose was to discuss possible changes to the city's oil and gas ordinance to keep us up to date with the industry and other cities, and provide the most protective rules that are practical.

I've gone through the city's citizen police and fire academies, and have volunteered on occasion for various things. I'll continue to stay involved with the city.

I'm a volunteer for Keep Lewisville Beautiful, where my wife is a board member. This organization works to reduce and clean up litter, and keep our community clean and beautiful.

I participated in a program with Lewisville Independent School District called "INSIDE LISD - Community Leadership Program". This was a 6 month, 2 hour per month course designed by LISD to give community members an inside view of what it takes to run a school district.

I served on an ad-hoc committee of communications stakeholders for LISD, which is trying to improve the way that it communicates with the public.

I serve on the 30-member Strategic Design Team that is assisting LISD in crafting a mission and vision, goals, milestones, and evaluative components.

I serve on the Lewisville ISD re-branding committee.

I have served in various capacities for various candidates as a campaign volunteer.

I have served as a precinct chair for the Democratic Party, and attended the state convention as a delegate in 2010. I am not currently serving in any official or unofficial capacity for the party, though I tend to agree with 90% or more of what Texas Democrats stand for.

No political candidate or party has any editorial control over or advance notice of what is written here, and they should know better than to ask. I may like someone very much, but still post bad news about them.

I'm currently volunteering in a very limited capacity for Greg Tierney's City Council campaign. In the past I have supported TJ Gilmore, Dean Ueckert, Neil Ferguson, and Leroy Vaughn in their non-partisan races.

Last updated 1/14/2012.

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Poster Thread
WhosPlayin
Posted: 2011/10/8 12:10  Updated: 2011/10/8 12:10
Editor
Joined: 2008/12/12
From:
Posts: 3799
 About Background Checks
Sticking this here, because it seems like as good a place as any.

For a couple of years now, WhosPlayin has been conducting background checks on local political candidates. I want to fully disclose this for a few reasons:

1. Candidates for public office should either be clean or should have some good amount of time since their "youthful indiscretions". The public deserves to know what the record says.

2. Candidates or would-be candidates deserve fair notice, and should have the opportunity to decide ahead of time whether they want their business out there for the community at large to see. They should have an opportunity to comment on disputed items.

3. I'm not a professional investigator, and there are some limitations to what I can find.

We use a variety of online sources, including paid searches from commercial online information clearinghouses. We also use government information, such as PACER for federal courts, Texas DPS Criminal History search, and County court records. The nature of it is that you can't find what you don't think to search for, and not everything is available online. Since one of the services I use has national coverage, I don't usually individually search records from other states and locales unless I have reason to believe I'll find something. So it's entirely possible, though not very likely that I could miss something from another state.

We tend to err on the side of caution, because many people out there have similar or identical names. So, we try to check records against full names, birthdates, and known locales. When in doubt, we exclude the information and try to find more details. Sometimes I make information requests from government agencies when more information is needed.

Sometimes when I find something, I just simply ask the person to comment. Surprisingly, some of the candidates think they can just ignore it and it will go away. If you are a candidate, and I've contacted you about your history with a specific question, it's safe to assume that I've found something, and am gathering more information. It's your chance to give your side of the story and make sure that you are heard, and have an opportunity to dispute something when you think we may have it wrong. Candor and honesty go a long way towards reassuring the public that your record doesn't reflect who you currently are. Or you can just ignore my phone calls and emails. It's your campaign and your choice. We do have a deletion policy that we're in process of getting fully implemented.

Lastly, minor things like traffic tickets are generally ignored unless there is a serious problem with them, or they indicate any sort of hypocrisy. Almost every driver has managed to get one, even if they are generally a good driver. We also know that plenty of bad drivers don't get enough of them. But a small number of them spread out over time doesn't really reflect badly on the ability to serve, in my opinion.

So, to recap:
- I could miss something.
- I probably won't post something serious unless I've got absolute proof in my hands, and I usually will make an effort to contact for comment.
- If I post it, I usually have a government document in my hands to back it up.
- Bad stuff eventually gets deleted from the blog.

If you want to help out, you can donate a few bucks to the fund (not tax-deductable) that we use to pay for access to background check services or copies of public records. (See donation link in the side menu.) If you are good with research and have time to make trips to the courthouse for documents that are not online, you could volunteer. (email ses@whosplayin.com) And of course, as always if you disagree or think we got it wrong, feel free to leave comments on the article.
Reply


Other articles
2014/4/19 8:10:00 - Videos: Lewisville City Council Retreat - April 17th, 18th, 19th
2014/4/18 16:35:09 - Council Offering Donna Barron the City Manager Post
2014/4/17 23:11:19 - Video: Trustee Candidates at LTJ/Parents4LISD Student Voter Forum
2014/4/17 22:30:00 - Board Tours LISD Westside Aquatic Center
2014/4/13 19:00:00 - LTJ, Parents4LISD to Host Student Voter Forum April 15th
2014/4/13 10:50:00 - Sunday Morning Update - Almost Tax Day Edition
2014/4/11 23:10:00 - City-wide Spring Cleanup Set for Saturday, April 26th
2014/4/11 7:00:51 - Sheriff's Office Warns About Bogus Warrant Calls
2014/4/9 6:20:00 - Updated: FBI Announces Arrests in Child Sex Trafficking Cases
2014/4/7 23:28:28 - Lewisville Woman Wins Big on Price is Right 8,000th Episode


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