Saturday, July 4, 2009

The Latest Bitchfight I've Gotten Into

So apparently some of my bitching and moaning struck a deep enough nerve that even hizzoner Craig Pridemore had to jump in to the fray to defend the status quo.

Someone passed along to me a blog I'd missed, Democracy for Vancouver. I was kind of excited to find it, in hopes that it might represent some of the true progressive vision that's lacking in either of the main political party these days. No such luck. Sure, sure, it's better than some of the crazy republican freakshow crap out there... but party-line liberals are just as fucking frustrating.

So, back to my point. d4v posted an announcement of a fundraiser for royce pollard in his bid for mayor. I made a snarky comment, and ignited a little bit of a bitchfest. Look people, mayor of vancouver is a largely irrelevant position. It doesn't HAVE to be, but as long as we maintain the status quo of good-old-boy politics, it will be. Pollard did a lot for vancouver--or rather, a lot of good happened here while he was mayor. But it's time to move the fuck on. i'm not even that wild about one of the other guys running. they're all largely the same. well, charlie stemper's a bit of a whack job. but leavitt's fine. it's not about the candidate so much as it is about breaking the routine and moving forward. same old, same old is what fucked the dems in 2000, fucked the republicans in 2008, and will fuck vancouver if we don't start thinking like true progressives in 2009.

Oh right. Here's the exchange.

Vantucky Holler
June 28th, 2009 at 9:01 am · Reply to this comment

I’m hard-pressed to understand how Rolls Royce Pollard represents democracy for Vancouver. This bullying Republican is hardly a representative for democracy or any kind of a progressive future. If we want to get out of a ‘good ol’ boys’ club’ mentality, I’m not sure how keeping their president as our mayor will do us any good.

June 28th, 2009 at 9:28 am · Reply to this comment

Posting the fundraising event is just a public service. The position is non-partisan. If Tim Leavitt or others running for city council makes the admin aware of a fundraiser, that will be posted also.

You are welcome to register on the site and post an article expressing what you think about our mayor.
June 28th, 2009 at 9:37 am · Reply to this comment

Just noticed your blog and added it to the local blog list on the left sidebar of D4V.
June 28th, 2009 at 10:51 am · Reply to this comment

Interesting that the “bullying Republican” has the treasurer of the Clark County Democrats as his campaign manager. Guess these labels do not mean much these days.

Craig Pridemore
July 2nd, 2009 at 5:01 pm · Reply to this comment

I’m just about to leave for Royce’s fundraiser. As a Democrat, a liberal, and one of TWO elected officials in Clark County who came out opposed to invading Iraq from the beginning (Jim Moeller was the other), I’ll stand by Royce. We don’t agree on a lot of national and international issues but when it comes to building a great city/community, Royce is still the choice. Smile

Craig Pridemore, State Senator
49th Legislative District

July 2nd, 2009 at 5:27 pm · Reply to this comment


That is a great campaign slogan, “Royce is Still the Choice!” Or it could be “Royce is the Right Choice!” Marsha, are you listening?

Thanks for being the great progressive that you are Senator Pridemore. You definitely have my vote (except that I am in the 17th) and support.

Vantucky Holler
July 4th, 2009 at 9:31 pm · Reply to this comment

Pollard was indeed the choice…for 1989. If we want to move forward, we should look at a candidate who isn’t interested in legacy-building and threatening those who don’t support him. The Ds supporting Pollard are just as representative of the old guard as he is. It was a mistake for me to use ‘republican’ in that previous comment, you were right. I should have said that, if this is a site that promotes ‘democracy,’ then perhaps it should actually promote candidates who have democratic values. State and Fed electeds supporting Pollard is meaningless. They want the perception of a good relationship with him because they want to be able to say that they have the support of their represented areas. It means nothing. Does Pollard have a functional relationship with the county, other cities in SW WA, or the employees of the city he ‘governs’? Not so much. D vs. R is indeed beside the point. These days, both parties are over. A truly progressive vision will not come from those who have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Columbian Takes on Water, Mistakes Higher Levels in Boat for Increased Readership

It's been quite a number of years since what passes as the Vancouver area's paper of record has had anything to offer the community. Readership dwindles, advertising dollars are moving to venues that will actually bring sales, and as the local content gets weaker and weaker, the paper that heralds itself as local and independent is steadily turning into an AP-wire regurgitation device.

The two irritants I've been hanging on to for the last few weeks are the new "print extra" "feature" in the paper, and Lou Brancaccio's insipid commentary.

Print Extra:

So here's the problem: readership of your print publication is down, and you don't make enough money off of online advertising to support all the people going to your website to read the news in a convenient, quick, on-demand and paper-waste-free format. How are you going to solve that problem?

If you're a forward-thinking publication that actually wants to serve its readers and customers, rather than punish them, you might try to figure out how to meet their needs and monetize their involvement.
If you're the Columbian, however, you decide to make one story a day absolutely unavailable online, so that if someone wants to read it they have to go buy the paper.

I've had a number of conversations and arguments with people in the publishing industry about this very thing. Old-guard newspaper people say it's a smart move: they're adding value to their product.

But the old guard is wrong.

The death of the daily paper is an old, tired, topic -- in all reality, newsprint will probably never die. BUT, the way we interact with it is definitely going to change. And every decision the Columbian has made of late -- from building a shiny new headquarters that they couldn't afford to blaming those pesky advertisers for their fickleness to making their product, the news, harder to access -- reveals a company that is unwilling to innovate.

There are a handful of folks out there who say we should support our local paper because it's our local paper and we can't let it die. But frankly, that's a little too much like leaving Grandpa on life support because Mom never got over her Electra complex and just can't bring herself to pull the plug.

SW Washington DOES need a consistent, reliable source of local news reported daily. But the Columbian isn't cutting it. If I want a rehash of wire stories, I've got a number of other national sources that, frankly, I'm more apt to trust. If I want business news, I'm going to go to the Vancouver Business Journal, where their reporters take the time and care to actually research and investigate their stories rather than just rehash press releases. If I want local entertainment news, the only paper that consistently provides it is the Vancouver Voice.

The Columbian is on the brink of obsolescence, and they seem determined to drive themselves there as quickly as possible. The Print Extra is a terrible idea because, while they might be adding "value" to one story a day, the rest of the paper continues to decrease in value. Make the paper something worth reading, though-- even if it's only 4 pages, pack it with local news that is relevant and unavailable anywhere else -- and I'll gladly pay for it. I'll happily pay for a paper subscription and read it offline. Or I'll pay for a digital subscription and read it on my computer. But when what you're asking me to pay for it rehashed national news and just three or 4 local stories that are actually reported by your staff, you make it easier for me to call you irrelevant. You make it less of a concern to care about what's happening locally. And you insult what readership you DO have by continuing to insist that the daily paper is a force to be reckoned with.

The daily paper's time has come and gone. You can't break news in print when I can Twitter a news link around the world in three seconds. You can't tell your readers what to think because you're no longer their only source of information. And you can't bully us into supporting you, because you no longer have the power behind you to make anyone give a damn.

So stop trying, and give your customers what they want. Try running your business like a business and make some decisions that don't alienate your customers at every turn.

I WANT to want to support the paper. I just can't bring myself to give a shit about them, if they don't give a shit about me.

More on Brancaccio in a future post.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Columbian Salary Survey a Pointless Exercise in Crap Journalism

So, did anyone over in The Columbian's editorial department actually train for their position? What passes for journalism in this rag is a travesty -- and an insult to everyone who bothers to read it.

Today's front-page story heralded the arrival of their new public employee salary database -- which isn't really a database, because it only shows the top 20 salaries. And it isn't really an accurate representation of tax spending, because it omits contractors and private non-profits that operate with government funds. And it isn't really an indicator of actual pay, because it leaves out benefits and supplemental income. Oh, and it isn't really newsworthy because it's public information published totally out of context.

In his story about how great the Columbian's reporting is for offering publicly available information, hack reporter Michael Andersen congratulates himself and his employer for their incredible achievement of making absolutely no contribution to a productive conversation.

He uses plenty of loaded words and phrases to make it sound like he's actually done something resembling journalism, but there doesn't seem to be any evidence to support it. He offers no context or background on any of the salaries he infers are too high, accuses unions of corruption because they and their employers didn't break contracts, and makes no comparison at all to the private sector. Not only that, he can't even keep his argument straight and manages at one point to contradict himself in back-to-back sentences.

The fact that Andersen wrote this article, and an editor let it through, is yet another indicator that The Columbian is done.

More on that to come.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Term Limits: Opposed by the People in Power Since ... Um ... Ever

In the Sunday, May 17, edition of the Columbian, editorial hack John Laird joined in the dogpile of attacks on a few of our more vocal citizens -- and managed at the same time to shit all over anyone else who dares to oppose the status quo. He, Thomas Koenninger, and the Mayor himself have been playing bait-and-ignore with fringe ringleaders Larry Patella, Debbie Peterson, and Stephanie Turlay.

Yes, this band of critics gets annoying. Patella confuses personal interest for public opinion, Ms. Turlay thinks it's fine to slander others but gets upset when it happens to her, and Ms. Peterson--well, Ms. Peterson's got a serious case of crazy-eye. And, while they don't represent a wise swath of the community, they are, nonetheless, citizens. As our Mayor, Royce Pollard shouldn't bow to their whims, but his casual dismissal of them shows better than anything else how much we need a change in leadership. And the Columbian, as what passes as the paper of record, shows its own hand and total lack of leadership by taking the fight down to the lowest possible level.

Low-level, caustic attacks have no place in a "news"paper that is fighting to survive as our region's only daily. If you're the paper of record, then fucking act like it. Loose language, insults, cursing and one-sided remarks are the province of blogs like this one, not institutions that claim to practice real journalism.

But I digress.

It isn’t just, as Mr. Laird so politely puts it, circus freaks who support term limits for city positions. There are also quite a few of us who are invested in creating a local government that doesn’t resort to cronyism and bullying to maintain the status quo.

Term limits, executed by those who seek to actually serve the public instead of their own egos, foster a different kind of government – one that we need in order for our city to move forward. If our current officials recognized that they will eventually need to pass the baton -- preferably before they go on life support -- maybe we’d be lucky enough to see them actually work together and plan wisely for the future.

Term limits don’t mean that an exiting official is barred from further service. A retired council member could provide immense benefit to the school board or a nonprofit board. Hell, if they're so married to sitting on the council, they could run for a different seat or take a term off and come back. A term limit doesn't force retirement -- it forces new leadership and a continuum of growth that our city will desperately need as we move into our next chapter.