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Full Disclosure

The Editor's Column
Posted by WhosPlayin on 2010/11/18 7:50:00 (12243 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 a mixture of journalism and opinion 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 site 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:

My name is Steve Southwell, and I am the Editor of this site. 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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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. Those leases are all expired.

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. I am a current member ot the City of Lewisville's Oil and Gas Advisory Board. The purpose of both bodies was/is 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 served on the City of Lewisville's Vision 2025 Plan Committee, helping to build a long-range plan for the City of Lewisville for the year 2025.

I have been selected to serve on the City of Lewisville's Charter Review Board, which is likely to begin work in January, 2015.

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 served on the Lewisville ISD re-branding committee.

I have served in various capacities for various candidates as a campaign volunteer. In the past I have supported TJ Gilmore, Dean Ueckert, Neil Ferguson, Greg Tierney, and Leroy Vaughn in their non-partisan races. Past support is no guarantee of future support, and doesn't mean that any of these folks get a free pass from critical coverage.

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.

Last updated 7/14/2014.

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