SDH2011 Update: “Money Jungle” on hiatus, City Council campaign in full effect!

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Courtesy Tom Pennington

Just wanted to make some quick notes here on the blog, explaining the exceptional length (even by my standards) between postings. I don’t blog nearly as much as I probably should–never have, never will unless ordered to by an employer, which apparently happens now.  There’s been a lot going on the last six months, events that have gone generally untouched here. Let’s touch briefly on them:

1) Writing, or lack thereof: I’ve not written a “Money Jungle” column for Folio since July, following the columns done about the “Gusher In the Gulf”. Some folks in the distribution area have asked, so I feel obliged to clarify all this. After a year in which the column appeared intermittently, every other week at best, resulting from the larger financial rut that’s hit the industry, I chose simply to stop writing it for now rather than see a diminishing of the brand-name I worked many years to cultivate. While I could probably write a book detailing my differences with various aspects of how that paper was run in recent years (in particular its self-negating approach to the challenges raised by digital meda, the cost of which is impossible to overstate), I have no problems with Folio and look forward to doing more writing for them (and other outlets) as the years proceed. It remains essential reading for Florida affairs.

However, writing is a career, and if the money’s not right, a professional just can’t function at the level that is needed to succeed in this highly competitive industry. I’ve made countless contacts over 15 years in this business and sent out hundreds of resumes, while making thousands of pitches to newspapers, magazines and websites all over America and the world. For years, the issue was that my political views were too controversial, and my profile too obscure, for commercial media to take a risk on, so the private conversations we’ve all been having over the past decade were mostly embargoed from mainstream audiences. We’re all paying a catastrophic price for the failures of a few–in the industry and around the world.

Now that much of what the column was designed to warn people about has come to pass, and now that I’m starting to become slightly better-known, the issue is a simple lack of funds to hire new people. Commercial media is mostly in a defensive posture right now–it has been for a while, and will remain so for years to come. Every day is spent struggling to maintain dwindling circulation figures as the audience flocks toward newer, fresher media, unhindered by the stale orthodox thinking of a bygone time. The gatekeepers of tradition are clinging for dead life to an outmoded business model; but the architects of that model, who are now mostly long-gone, would have easily adapted to the new ways had that challenge been thrust upon them.

In recent years, culminating with the economic collapse that formally began in September 2008, the focus has shifted from preventing crises from developing in our country, to managing the crises that are now here. On this point we’ll skip the details, because they are all around you. Step one is addressing the lingering (and in some cases growing) anger, fear and uncertainty so many people are feeling now. It has already begun to manifest in more violence on our streets, more shocking outbursts of insanity that have left hundreds dead all over America, just this year alone. It’s hard to tell what’s more unstable: our economy, our politics or our planet itself. When you consider that they’re all pieces of the same puzzle, everyone’s fears are fully justified.

2) So, this brings me to the other point, the main line that brings the rest of this together: A few months ago I decided, after much consideration, to make my best effort to take my vision for this city/state/country out of the purely (or, mostly) theoretical realm and into the realm of practical application. To that end, I’ve entered the race for City Council District 14 in my hometown of Jacksonville, FL. As one of the city’s most well-known and influential residents, I feel driven to give back to the city that’s given me so much–so many friends, great memories, and base of experience that leaves me eminently qualified to do the job I’m now seeking.

I am just one of six people currently running for this office; they are all nice, talented people who (like thousands of others) can easily do the job if elected. However, I feel that I bring a base of unique talents to bear that will make me not only a great councilman, but also the best salesman the city could have at this time. While I have much more name recognition than any of my opponents, that doesn’t mean it will be easy; nor should it be.

The first step is to qualify for the ballot, which means tendering a check for $1,800 before high noon on Friday, January 14. We are at the beginning of a 0-to-60 mph push, a blistering, bruising three-week fundraising blitz that will decide whether this project will go any further.

At this writing, two months in, I’ve only raised a couple hundred dollars, while others have raised upwards of $30,000. The campaign finance rules are by far the shadiest part of this whole process. Campaign funding is basically money-laundering for the industries backing your campaign; they donate on the presumption that the candidate will perform according to their interests. But since I’m running a campaign rooted in the need to mitigate the destructive role of money in the process, it’s not surprising that our totals are falling short of expectations. But we’re working on fundraising ventures, and we’ve set up a PayPal account to make donating easier; we’ll install PayPal buttons here and on the Facebook pages soon.

If I win this election, I plan to restrict my journalistic activity to cultural matters–art, music, dance, film, food and such. I’ll do my best not to weigh in professionally on politics, though in that new capacity as a politician I’m sure there will be cause for comment here and there. As this campaign proceeds, I’ll continue to update this blog in the usual sporadic fashion. There will never be any shortage of material for any conscientious professional hack. Of course, given the nature of political discourse nowadays, this entry probably marks the semi-retirement of the writing style I’ve developed over the years. I’ll be just as curious as the rest of you to see what the new style looks like when it emerges, at some point in 2011.

As you know, I’ve got my usual personal Facebook page (maybe the best Facebook page ever, but who can say for sure?), but for legal and organizational reasons we’ve set up a “fan page” specifically for any and all matters related to “SDH 2011”. Whether you live in the district or not, I’d appreciate it if you clicked “like” on the page, told your friends, relatives and co-workers, and made yourself a part of this ongoing discussion about how Jacksonville can reclaim its status as “the Bold New City of the South”. You can find all my other contact info around this site, but here it is anyway: (904)309-1208; sheltonhull@gmail.com. You can also follow me on Twitter @SheltonHull.

Thank you very much, and have a Happy New Year!

SDH

PS: Let me point out, again, that the campaign does have a PayPal account. If you’d prefer to send a check, call or email me directly for the mailing address. We can accept donations from all US Citizens.

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One response »

  1. Shelton,
    First and foremost, congratulations on your run for office and good luck. I’m not in your district, but I would be happy to assist with your campaign any way I can.
    Secondly, in regard to point #1, I don’t see how your political viewpoint is in any way subversive or controversial…
    Also, violent and property crimes have both dropped, even during the economic downturn, as they have been on a downward trajectory for the past 3 years. Not to say that we live in a crime-free utopia, but it’s a lot of hype. Violence and death sells ad space, ad space makes the media owners rich. There is no such thing as honest journalism from the MSM anymore. It is a sad, sad day in the US where money speaks louder than truth.

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