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Phil in the Blank A column by Phil Custodio

Everything is awesome?

February 26, 2014 - When I go to the movies, it's to escape the world in which I live and work. Catching a 3D screening of "The Lego Movie," however, left me with a sense of deja vu.

That feeling was strongest the third or fourth time the plastic minifigs broke out into their hit song "Everything is Awesome!"

"Everything is awesome!" they'd sing. "Everything is cool when you're part of a team! Everything is awesome! When you're living the dream."

That could be the theme song for some local leaders nowadays.

It's the attitude of Clarkston's embattled city manager, especially with her Positively Clarkston campaign, something she launched when she became manager. It's also a regular refrain from people stopping by the newsroom.

"Why are you so negative," we've been asked. "You should report on everything positive in Clarkston."

That we do, of course, but not enough for folks like this.

This view was also shared by a former Clarkston Schools superintendent a few years ago. We, the school district and newspaper, should be team, I was told. Report good news to attract people to Clarkston, increase home sales, more school funding, tax revenue, etc.

"Everything is better when we stick together," as the song goes. "Side by side, you and I gonna win forever, let's party forever! We're the same, I'm like you, you're like me, we're all working in harmony!"

It's all enticing stuff, as is all good propaganda. But in the movie, the song is used as a tool of the state, to distract ordinary people from what's really happening behind the scenes. No spoilers about the movie, but it's more than is immediately apparent.

Same here in Clarkston. None of us got into the business to sing about how awesome everything is. For one thing, it would be really boring, to write as well as to read.

Fortunately, Sunshine Week is on its way. After the January and February we've had, my hope is actual sunshine that week, March 16-22, but I'll take the shining light of government transparency.

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