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.