Do I believe Shuttleworth is infallible? No. I believe the previous mistakes made with nautilus spatial are proof enough of that. When he mistake a mistake in judgement...who's he accountable to for that if not the entire Ubuntu community? Who certified him an expert designer? He may be passionate about design but it doesn't automatically make him good at it. I'm passionate about basketball and I'm terrible at it. Whose in a position to tell him his designs are bad if not the external Ubuntu community? You can't really expect Canonical employees to go toe-to-toe with him when he's made up his mind. That's the problem with organizational structures that are built on cults-of-personality... the lines between what it means to be a meritocracy and an autocracy get a little blurry.
Does that mean that all the decisions should be second-guessed? No. I'm not even really sure this one decision is even worth arguing over. But others do.
The underlying problem here is Shuttleworth has rushed an incomplete set of changes onto users without laying down a roadmap to put those changes into context. If this needs to be top secret for business reasons...they could have just waited and wow'd everyone when it was time to implement the beneficial changes that require this not so beneficial change. He hasn't articulated why this change really needs to be in an LTS release when the benefits of the change are going to be experimented with in a 10.10 time frame. Isn't this sort of experimental stuff exactly why PPAs exist? Couldn't the Canonical design team work on this in a PPA and invite people to consume the PPA as early adopters?
On top of that he's really giving people mixed signals about how to constructively impact design decisions. People are trying to show him "data".. its just not the "data" he thinks is valuable. Okay...great..so what exactly is valuable "data?" He's not saying. His responses strain the credibility of the idea that he wants community feedback.
Ubuntu is utterly and completely Shuttleworth's baby. If he wants to collaborate with the community that has been drawn into the project's promise of transparency..then he should make good on that promise and be transparent and communicate about plans. If he wants to be Steve Jobs 2.0 and wow potential consumers with innovative product offerings born from behind closed doors with no community input then he can be that instead. He just needs to decide be consistent about how he wants to interact with the Ubuntu community. Consumer or collaborators...his choice.