Sunday, April 15, 2007

Talk of the Town: "The alternative to global warming stinks"

Ah, good. Tim W told me a few weeks ago that he was working to facilitate public debate about the climate crisis. So here we have the opening remarks from the tiny minority of people who call themselves scientists, don't think humans are changing our climate and don't think climate change is necessarily a bad thing.

I'm no scientist, and Terry Lovell is -- he teaches business and computer science at YC. No meteorology or climatology, nor any earth sciences, for that matter, but what the heck, he understands the scientific method, right? And apparently he believes he understands it better than the rest of the scientific community, which views climate change as not only human-caused, but threatening to civilization worldwide.

One thing Prof Lovell apparently does not understand is the difference between the CO2 you exhale, "you global climate criminal," you, and the CO2 spewed into the atmosphere in burning fuels taken from underground. This tells me that he may have skipped the class on the carbon cycle.

But I'm no scientist, so I'll look forward to another prominent and long Talk of the Town next week from another scientist, one who joins the vast majority of her peers worldwide in calling for immediate, decisive action to limit CO2 output and the extent of the impending climate disaster.

Thanks for doing this, Tim, your readers could really use some solid information about this issue.

Editorial: "We need more culture, less pop"

The unnamed Courier editor riffs incoherently on this week's cannibalistic media feeding frenzy on Don Imus, wrenching things around to find a way to work in a whack at his favorite inflatable punching clown.

• When she was first lady, Hillary Clinton allegedly called a campaign contributor a "Jew bastard."

I gather this little meme has been circulating among the Bill-Clinton-is-Satan crowd for a while, but I hadn't heard it before, so I checked it out. I was not really surprised that the private he-said-she-said moment in question allegedly happened in 1974, rather before she was Mrs Clinton, let alone a resident of 1600 Penn Ave, her accuser was a campaign staffer rather than a contributor, he was disbarred for malpractice and mentally unstable, and she released a written apology from him.

You gotta wonder whether this meets the Courier editor's normal standard for reporting facts.

Did I mention that the cartoon running next to this editorial (link is busted) is another whack at Hillary? Anyone else think someone's got an obsession going here?

In the comments, early-riser Jane goes after similar distortion of Rosie O'Donnell, who's also been a frequent Courier target recently. Think we'll see a reply?

A1: "Initiative on sales tax could make ballot"

Okay, so we have a new group of half a dozen people getting started on an initiative to make the temporary 1-percent City sales tax permanent. But there's an important piece missing.

Quoting from the initiative, we see, “Starting Jan. 1, 2016, funds from the 1-percent Transaction Privilege Tax shall be used exclusively for ‘street maintenance.’”

Presumably this use of 'exclusively' references the current uses of the tax revenues for both streets and the acquisition of open space, and would eliminate the latter. Open space has been an issue of major contention since the campaign to approve it in the first place, and it's no surprise that some people might want to knock it out.

But Cindy's story only mentions the open-space angle in the background graph. It seems clear that this could easily be the primary motivator for the initiative backers, especially considering that they hope to pass it eight years before any possibility of implementation. That demands exploring.

If it's on A1 it's a news story, and shouldn't be treated as a simple inside-page press-release dump. Did Cindy do this, or the editors?

A1: "City takes stance on downtown violations"

The most interesting angle in this story for me is the very first clause. Yes, it's good that City bureacrats are doing a little something to catch up with this problem, but where were they when it was happening? It required multiple complaints, including LTEs mentioned previously here, to get any movement.

Then there's the bit at the end, wherein City Kitchen Sink Czar Mic Fenech lusts to spend another 80 grand of our money on a machine, plus the man-hours to operate and maintain it, to do what the property owners are already legally required to do on their own. I'll look forward to more on this, Cindy.

A1: "Mayes shares ACC's ideas for water conservation"

I'm glad Doug Cook was there for the presentation by Commissioner Mayes, and his story on it has a some good nuts-and-bolts information, particularly about the purview of the the Corp Commission around water companies, that voters don't often get much chance to learn about.

The editors could have hit this one a little harder and made it easier to read, but I won't nitpick all that. I'm more concerned about the headline. Yes, ideas for conservation are in the story, but only in the last three graphs. That's not how it's done, guys. An average reader coming to the story looking for what you're promising will be disappointed and leave off reading by the third graph. Spend another fifteen seconds and headline the story you have rather than the one you vaguely remember from skimming it.

Letters: Yellow lights again

Never underestimate how exercised Americans can get when it comes to traffic.

I'm very impressed with the initiative that PV residents are taking over the yellow-light and radar camera issue there. Beyond the triggering irritation, an interesting story by itself, the people's response to it has become a fascinating news story on which the Courier is so far unaccountably mute. Go PV!