Thursday, May 3, 2007

Coming: Dems back Renzi on DOJ probe

Via AZ Congress Watch (great work over there), today the Arizona Democratic Party issued this statement:

“Rick Renzi’s assertion that the Justice Department is trying to influence elections in Arizona is extremely serious and should be investigated,” said David Waid, Chairman of the Arizona Democratic Party. “Over the last two weeks, the FBI has raided Renzi’s family business and he has been fined by the FEC for violating campaign finance laws, Arizonans deserve to know whether these are legitimate investigations.”

Coming: Simon announces

I've just heard that Ellen Simon has filed for the AZ-1 seat soon to be vacated by Richie Rich Renzi. That's two so far.

Cohen: "Dick Cheney will lie, denying that he's a liar"

The Courier editors give us a truncated version of this Cohen column, headlined at Real Clear Politics as "Kucinich's Case Against Cheney." (It's from yesterday, but for some reason has yet to appear on the WaPo site.) For you scorekeepers out there, it's 297 out of 758 words, broken mid-paragraph. So again it's liberal-opinion-as-filler, but on the upside the headline is sort of intelligible and there's no editing inside to screw it up further. A very simple slashing.

Editorial: "Anti-day labor bill’s veto was political"

The unnamed Courier editor concludes that the Governor's intention is political. Apparently he has a stringer inside her head.

I'll give you what the Courier hasn't: the bill, which makes it a crime to stand in certain places with an intention. It does not, of course, provide any criterion for determining a person's intention in the absence of doing anything other than stand. Or maybe stop to light a cigarette. I'm not the lawyer Janet is, but this bothers even lowly old me.

The Courier editor likes this bill. I wonder whether he's actually read it. Perhaps he likes it because he can always tell what a person's intention is.

Talk of the Town: "Gun control proponents turning us into cowards"

Bob Shimizu, whom I know as a fellow jazz musician, runs down the standard talking points at length and with gusto, offering nothing you haven't read before on the Courier editorial page. His big idea: to address the big problem of mass killings by psychopaths, an event less likely to kill you than a lightning strike on a clear day, we should allow permit holders to carry their guns on campus. Presumably no permit holder would ever use it to hurt anyone.

More gunfights! That's what we need.

Letters: Twin rants

James Baker can't figure out why local lawnforcement can't enforce laws over which it has no jurisdiction, and Susan Patricks wants to give Elise Townsend a punch in the nose. The interesting bit is the correction related to yesterday's letter from Amy Reyes, citing an "editing error" -- was it Amy's error, or the editor's?

Cartoon: Absolut Yeltsin

I expect the Courier editors celebrate the demise of the Soviet Union, yet in a tawdry example of doublethink, they present the man who actually led that action, on the occasion of his death, as a bad pun on a commercial. Classy, guys. Knock a guy when he's dead.

A1: "April offers no relief as fire season approaches"

There's blessed relief from the usual fluff in today's page-one photobox, as Joanna Dodder provides an actual news story that should matter to everyone living here. Clear writing, good detail, Joanna gets a cookie.

A1: "Lowe's construction site raises concerns"

Cindy Barks paints us a picture of discomfited Councilcritters grilling the Lowe's representatives over the mess they're making. What I'm not seeing is any indication of whether the construction crews are doing anything that Council didn't approve. It reads a bit like a show for the complainers, but without that crucial bit of information, we can't draw a conclusion.

A1: "Two teens prompt two pursuits in stolen jeep incident"

As I hoped, Mirsada Buric turns in a followup on the pursuit story from May 1. Together the stories present an object lesson in reporting.

Both rely heavily on police reports, including raw tips from witnesses. I'll focus on just one example. One of those tips in the preliminary report describes the perps as men in their 20s. Once they're in cuffs we learn that they were both 15.

This detail colors each story for the reader. In the first we learn that adult criminals are lurking in wait to steal cars. In the second they are bored teenagers hanging around looking for a thrill. These are very different lessons.

This is why I characterized this and other details in the first story as 'clutter' -- not because I knew the story better than the reporter, but because they didn't tell the reader anything useful, and we could expect that most of them were junk.

A11: "Council tables vote on Monogram’s plans for Young’s Farm"

Doug Cook pulls together the relevant facts, but someone buried the lead.* The D-H Council tabled the decision, true enough: to the next council, essentially passing the hot potato. Maybe that's the smart thing to do, but I think it's an important angle, perhaps indicating just how controversial this development is. Since the Courier has taken an editorial position on this decision, it should be more circumspect in its news coverage of the topic.

* Yes, I know that journos love to spell this as 'lede.' All editors make style decisions, and this is mine, for me: 'lede' is elitist insider jargon, as yet unaccepted in standard dictionaries.