Saturday, May 19, 2007

Letters: More on prop tax-dodging

Marian Littel gives us a little more (couldn't resist, sorry) on the tricks available to large property owners for paying less than their fair share. Interesting, and yet another gift to the Courier editors that so far goes unaccepted.

Kamin: "Ron Paul was right, Rudy was wrong"

It's getting to be that I look forward to John K's columns. I'm not sure that the headline was the best choice, but the piece is good stuff, and not just because I happen to agree with his points, but rather that they're made with precision and strength, and a voter might profit from reading them.

Talk of the Town: "CPA stands up for Hambrick, Townsend"

Vic Hambrick's accountant is annoyed that he's being implicated in alleged hanky-panky, and barks back, at one point comparing the Courier's research skills unfavorably with those of a fifth-grader and its reporters of a certain lack of sense. He goes on to ask some pointed questions about how this story has been covered. In case you're keeping score, here are some answers.

"ROI Land Management & Development Company owes her $295,000." Did your reporter verify this statement or ask to see a copy of the note or agreement?
This refers to the May 6 story, and Joanna's balancer came in the same paragraph: "He denies owing her any money." That was the end of it, no mention of proof. Is that the reporter's job? It may be, when they're already stringing you up on the editorial page.
"Did your reporter question how the transfer of real property could have anything to do with solving anyone's tax problem? Or did they confirm Victor Hambrick even had a tax problem before printing this statement?
There's no telling what questions Joanna asked, but there is certainly no answer to this in any of her stories. This was an allegation made by Townsend, though, not the Courier. Should the Courier have printed it without followup or fact-checking?

I also notice that he has to do this on the opinion page, rather than have his viewpoint and assertions of innocence covered in the original story.

It's exactly this sort of sticky complexity that keeps most papers away from investigative work, and I don't mean to criticize Joanna or the editors for going after the story, that's a good thing. You have to mind your Ps and Qs, though. If this accountant really is innocent -- and everyone is until proved guilty, right? -- the Courier may have unfairly screwed up his business and professional reputation. We'll see as the story continues to develop what's just. What we know so far is that the Courier's actions have made it an important part of the story, always a dangerous play for the press.

A1: "Six new roundabouts up for review"

It seems the roundabout idea is working just fine after all. I seem to recall that the Courier, along with a horde of letter-writers, predicted a massive failure back when this was approved. Anyone got a relevant link?

A1: "Chamber opposes sales tax initiative"

Dave Maurer is a pretty smart guy, and knows a boondoggle when he sees one. I'll bet the unnamed Courier editor would not have imagined that he'd wind up on the other side of the issue from the CofC when he rashly wrote in support of the initiative to kill off funding for open space back on April 18.

I love this bit at the end: "... the Chamber suggested that the city, the initiative group, and other interested parties get together to "develop a plan that can be supported by everyone."" That's exactly what Norwood should have got in gear as soon as he heard that Behnke was out for bear -- and you can bet he heard about it long before the initiative effort started.

A1: "Henson gets another stay in Arizona as he fights extradition"

I understand that lawyers have to make whatever argument might work, but I can't see how Henson's lawyer is doing anything useful with this desperate rearguard action that sacrifices his client's credibility.

This is a low-level international story taking place in our jail, and there's a local angle to it that the Courier has so far missed or skipped over, in that there are widely circulated allegations that Henson is being mistreated in the YavCo jail, including denial of necessary medications and impeding contact with legal counsel. Whether any of this is true or not, it's at least a factor in the story that deserves reporting and at worst an issue with our local authorities that needs fixing.

Editorial: "'Just showing up' offers ample rewards"

Yeah, yeah, it's wonderful that a kid decides to go to school every day. Does anyone else think that giving a 15-year-old a car is a bizarre indulgence?