Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Coming?: Renzi speaks a puzzle

Found on Think Progress:

Yesterday in an interview with Phoenix’s KPNX, Renzi spoke for the first time since the FBI raid and said that he believes he is being smeared by the Justice Department. He refused to take any responsibility for the land deal, instead charging — without any evidence — that the leaks on the investigation were “lies.” He added that “to make that up and put that out means the Department of Justice was engaged in electioneering and that needs to be investigated.”

Does he believe it, or is he just flailing?

A1: "$500 rewards offered in search for 22 wanted felons"

I dunno what to think about this, it just feels kinda seedy. What do you think?

A1: "Locals come out strongly in support of Mesa Airline"

Cindy Barks summarizes the Council echo chamber about scheduled passenger air service. The missing bit is that Council hosted the same debate and made the same vote last time this came up, but the DOT went with the other guys anyway, so we might like to know why it might go differently this time.

Cindy didn't write the headline that gets the company's name wrong, so no blame there.

A1: "Election commission drops charges against Renzi"

This AP report, the main Renzi story across the mainstream media today, is a fascinating study in lipstick on a pig.

If you don't read too closely, it appears that Renzi has been exonerated of wrongdoing in his 'reporting errors' related to campaign finances. You might just skip over the $25,000 fine as some sort of incidental expense. That's a conviction, folks, but it's soft-pedaled in favor of another point of investigation that the FEC decided was properly sorted out.

There's a tipoff a few graphs in, where we read briefly about "another FEC matter' involving the DNC, clearly placed to help minimize the judgment against Renzi. Perhaps the reader won't notice the difference between a sitting Congressman, subject to House ethics rules, and a political organization.

There will be more on our Congresscritter.

A1 and Editorial: The Wal-Mart fine

Cookies all around.

On the front page under "Wal-Mart committee will pay $22,500," Ken Hedler puts together a clear and concise report on the settlement of the legal issue that's dogged the Wal-Mart support campaign since before the election, this time leaving out any backhand slap at the opposing team. The research exposes the facts of the matter and leaves them for the reader to analyze.

Following up, in "Wal-Mart 'disagreement' leaves many questions," the unnamed Courier editor moves that analysis forward, and puts a couple of pertinent questions for the future. While he reflexively asserts that the result of the election was foregone despite the hanky-panky and neglects to note the Courier's direct role in supporting that side of the issue, I think overall we can say this is how local-issue coverage should be done.

Letters: Questions, questions

It's almost a theme. Virginia Lewis asks the Courier to cover the local shortage of health-care providers accepting "Medicare alternative" insurance. Gary Sanderson asks about the letters policy related to out-of-state correspondence. Craig Farr asks why the Courier published nothing sooner on the Townsend Construction story, and whether there are other such stories on the spike. All good questions with no replies from the editors.

Meanwhile Amy Reyes responds admirably to questions about the PHS prom location. Good on her.

Talk of the Town: "Agricultural tax exemption is being abused"

Bill and Laura Fields seem to have done a pretty good job of research to support their thesis that ranchland tax exemptions are both unfair and widely abused. The writing's clear and to the point, making a good model for local-issue discourse. I plan to ask Rep Mason about this on the weekend.

Cartoon: White flag

Do the Courier editors really believe that Prescott needs more reinforcement of a talking point that only the Current Resident seems to believe? When both active and retired military, soldiers and officers on the ground, legislators on both sides of the aisle, diplomats, the intelligence community and the majority of Americans have reached a clear and public consensus that no good can come of continuing the illegal Iraq occupation, when the original public objectives of overthrowing Saddam and installing an elected government have been achieved and no other clear objective has even been put forward for consideration, how can one possibly characterize ending the pain as 'surrender'? Because you've got a specific political agenda, that's how.

Guys, you're trying to make your readers dumber again. You have much better stuff available from 'the right' that you could be using, and that goes for your editorial page as a whole. Look for cooler, smarter rhetoric and you may begin to win back some credibility.

B1: "Area teens learn about life’s pitfalls"

In the annual feature on Teen Maze, Derek Meurer talks with the organizer at length and describes what it's about. What's missing is any reaction from the customers about why they come, what they think of it, or whether it's effective. It's always looked to me like a colossal exercise in preaching to the converted. Is there any evidence to the contrary?