Sunday, May 20, 2007

Talk of the Town: "Compassion for day laborers has its limits"

Dan Pederson makes some good points about what it's like for the business neighbors, and writes with some intelligence and sensitivity. Overall I think he's got the wrong end of the stick, though. Do the would-be workers deserve the blame, or should we be looking more closely at ourselves for creating the conditions that force them into an underground economy? Are we looking at causes here, or consequences?

There's another response to Dennis Duvall in the letters section, too.

Editorial: "Hambrick's actions don't pass smell test"

The unnamed Courier editor crawls further out on his limb, trying to get the rope in the right position to hang Vic Hambrick. This follows up on his May 8 offering, "Link with Townsend doesn't pass 'smell test'," demonstrating a stunning level of creativity with headlines, if nothing else. (I know, I used it too -- but only once, and first.)

Just to sum up one more time: Hambrick may be as dirty as the editor seems to think, but so far he hasn't shown us the goods on that, and for that reason I think the editor is way ahead of himself on calling for the assessor's removal by whatever means. The Courier also took a position against Hambrick in his election, and that should be mentioned. By using the editorial page in this unwise manner, the paper has made itself part of a story that could unfairly damage professional reputations and erode confidence in elected officials. Whatever the underlying truth is, more care is warranted here.

A3: "Supervisors to discuss budget, centennial, Prop. 207"

Uh-huh, here it comes. The Supes will be voting on a new policy of backing off from any land-use regulation if the landowner threatens to sue for compensation under Prop 207 rules. This will effectively prevent any land-use regulation change that does not favor development. And who was the local mouthpiece for this touch of evil bought and paid for by radical New York libertarian Howie Rich? The Queen Bee herself, that's who. Why can't the Courier say so?

A1: "Adult Center scrambles to meet high demand"

Sometimes I feel like I'm looking through the wrong end of the telescope. Cindy Barks tells us -- first time I've read this, as far as I can recall -- that the 'ultimate goal' for membership in the Adult Center has been about 1,000. Yikes, for all the money and hassle the City has pumped into that facility, it ought to be serving a whole lot more people than that! I'm all for public partnerships with nonprofits, but Adult Center has historically been afforded sacred-cow status that deserves a little more skeptical inspection.

Outside the body copy: The headline hints that the new name for the place isn't sticking, and somebody please get control of the captions!

A1: "Water, sewer rates will not increase next fiscal year"

Here's the followup on the meeting previewed on May 16. Turns out staff decided to hold the line on rates. Hmmm. It feels like something's missing here, but it's probably inside stuff between Council and staff.

A1: Photo radar

PV declares victory with its Glassford Hill gauntlet, and Ken Hedler covers it in a three-angle feature here and here. Chunks of this are clouds of numbers that might have been better done as comparison tables, so it's a bit of a challenge to sort out.

What Ken's focusing on is all pretty obvious -- it's no surprise that people learn where the cameras are and change their behavior accordingly.

I've been hoping that the Courier would provide a little transparency on the corporate side of this system, though, and here I'm largely disappointed. We get a per-ticket rate of $70 and a total of 97K-odd bucks that PV has sent to Redflex so far, but no overall income number for comparison. Ken also describes Redflex as "Scottsdale-based," which is plain wrong -- it has a satellite operation in Scottsdale, but it's based in Australia, and some voters might consider that significant. This gives me some pause about whether to trust the rest of Ken's coverage.