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Judge candidate defends using other's words on her website

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Drury doesn't give them credit, claims she has permission from authors

By Ben Carlson

At least some of the writings presented on leadership and tourism on judge-executive hopeful Donna Drury’s campaign website aren’t her own, she acknowledged in an interview Tuesday afternoon.

The material she used does not credit the actual authors of the work, but Drury said she doesn’t think it is necessary to do so because she claims to have their permission to use it.

“These are personal friends of mine,” she said.

“I don’t propose that this is my work,” she said. “This is my personal website. I’ve never said on there that this is my work.”

One example comes under the “leadership” heading on her site. The entry closely mirrors and in some areas is a verbatim rendering of work apparently produced by a writer named Jerold Aust on a website for “The Good News: A Magazine of Understanding.” Autz apparently posted the article before the 2008 presidential election.

On the website, Aust writes: “If we ever needed real leadership, now is the time. This campaign should cause us to consider several crucial questions: What is real leadership?”

On her website, Drury added some words, changed some punctuation and added capitalization, but writes: “If we ever needed real leadership in Anderson County from its County Judge Executive, NOW is the time!! The 2010 campaign for Judge Executive should cause us to consider several crucial questions: What is real leadership?”

Drury said she had already heard criticism about this issue from postings on social networking websites, and doesn’t understand why people are reacting so negatively to her using the work of others this way.

“A lot of people in Anderson County don’t have the sense or aren’t intellectual enough to understand that the best way to make improvements is to get out there and do some research,” she said. “I have people high up in research that I share work with, professional work. They are helping me with my campaign. I have people in Washington, D.C., who are helping me with my campaign.”

Drury responded to a question about how someone reading her campaign website would know what they are reading was actually written, at least in part, by someone else by saying knowing who wrote it isn’t that important.

“This is how far behind we are,” she said. “I would just think that this is about sharing information, but if it causes problems for my opponents because they are too lazy to do their own research, I’ll be happy to put [attribution] out there.”

Drury bristled when asked about using the material without attribution.

“I don’t appreciate you calling me about this,” said. “You or [judge-executive candidate] Chip [Chambers] or any of those yahoos out there trying to stir stuff up.

“But I’m glad people are reading it because the other two [candidates] don’t have anything worth reading.”

Drury said that the tourism and leadership postings are the only two that contain work that isn’t her own.

Drury used the blog portion of her website to weigh in about recent news regarding problems with the Anderson County Tourism Commission, but a portion of what’s there is writing found on other websites.

Michigan State University in July 2002 produced a study on tourism that says: “In recent decades, the rural-urban migration trend has reversed. People are moving back to small communities in increasing numbers. Likewise, non-metropolitan communities are attracting an increasing percentage of new industrial plant locations. Some small communities have capitalized on this national trend; others have not.”

That entry was found online at http://web1.msue.msu.edu/imp/modtd/33529767.html.

Although she inserts the words Anderson County, Drury’s July 1 post is nearly identical and includes the byline, “By Donna.”

She writes: “In recent decades, the rural-urban migration trend has reversed. People are moving back to small communities in increasing numbers. Likewise, non-metropolitan communities are attracting an increasing percentage of new industrial plant locations. Some small communities have capitalized on this national trend; others have not. Anderson County is a small community that has not been successful with the national trend.”

When asked, Drury said Tuesday that she used to work for Michigan State University and is personal friends with the author.

Asked to provide the author’s name, she said, “I don’t have to do that.”

There are several other examples in the Michigan State University piece, but another comes from a website called Tourism ROI, located at http://www.tourismroi.com/InteriorTemplate.aspx?id=35244.

On that site, author RR Miller explains a tourism study conducted on behalf of a community in South Africa. He writes: “The potential of tourism as a development strategy for small towns is recognised in tourism development literature and tourism is increasingly regarded as a viable avenue for local economic development.”

The date of his post is March 3.

On July 1, Drury writes: “The potential of tourism as a development strategy for small towns is recognized in tourism development literature and tourism is increasingly regarded as a viable avenue for local economic development.”

E-mail Ben Carlson at bcarlson@theandersonnews.com.