League of Women Voters Newton Forum on Northland is Biased

The Committee for Responsible Development, a ballot question committee organized to run the referendum campaign against the Northland plan for a 1.4 million square foot development on Needham Street has been invited by the League of Women Voters Newton (“the League”) to participate in a debate regarding the proposed Northland development on February 13, 2020.
After serious consideration, we regret that we will not be participating in the League’s event. Although the League of Women Voters Newton is not a neutral, objective body (as endorsers of the proposed development), we nevertheless were looking forward to participating in a fair and open forum
that would allow Newton’s citizens to hear the truth about this proposed development.
The format proposed by the League was that a moderator would provide the basic facts of the proposed development, followed by 15-minute presentations by both sides, with a question and answer session at the end.
We requested that the moderator be neutral and objective and that the presentation be limited to actual facts about the project (e.g. number of apartments, size and number of buildings, number of parking spaces, etc.). Via email on February 6, 2020 we were informed that the moderator would be Marcia Johnson, the President of the League, who has enthusiastically endorsed the proposed development in the past – neither a neutral nor an objective moderator.
We were further notified that the materials to be presented as facts about the project would be collected and prepared by Ms. Johnson, and that we would have no opportunity to ensure that the information that was presented by Ms. Johnson was factual, relevant, and accurate. In fact, Ms. Johnson indicated that “it is the campaigns’ presentations that will refute the facts” that she plans to present. Of course, facts, by their definition are things that are known or proved to be true – things presented as fact by a moderator should not be refutable.
Additionally, Ms. Johnson would not allow questions from the audience to be asked directly, but would collect them and would read the ones she has chosen for the parties to answer. The League’s format cannot be regarded as a fair and open forum for debate.
While we would be happy to debate the proposed development with Northland, it is clear that the League is not interested in hosting such a debate. The League is hoping that the presence of both sides at their forum will give this patently biased, unbalanced and unfair event an illusion of fairness and objectivity that it does not deserve.