Tuesday, December 22, 2009

ToMA: People need to learn about prison

The prison story broke in the Courier on Dec 17, a scant five days ago, so Councilwoman Lasker's column appears well ahead of the paper's usual two- to three-week publishing schedule for this sort of thing -- which only illustrates that they can get things printed in a more timely fashion when they want to.

I'm not taking a position yet on whether it's a good idea for PV to get into the prison business. I have to say that the idea of public officials panting after this sort of "growth business" is repellent, extending PV's history of rash, tasteless action for its own sake (the zombie civic center, the untenable public debt, the invented downtown, the tickytacky developments, the arena, the traffic cameras, ack). Having for-profit corporations operate such facilities is just wrong-headed as well, for a multitude of reasons. But if the project is necessary (debatable) and this is a good place for it, "not in my back yard" just isn't a good argument against it. And while I live in Prescott, I consider PV my back yard as well. The entire area has a stake in this decision, and PV officials should acknowledge that.

Ms Lasker plays the part of the smart shopper, but with no experience or homework to inform what she's seeing, she's a babe in the woods for a sales job, as we can infer from her comments here. The one thing a corporation will always do better than government is sales.

What concerns me most is the likelihood that a prison-town mentality will develop around it, a mindset that treats people as things. If we're to have a prison here, let's consider how we can do it better for everyone, the workers, the community and the incarcerated. Let's have some new ideas on facility and systems design to create a place where the people coming out are more likely to be better for the experience, and the community is as well.

Editorial: Water saving is worth turf plan

The unnamed Courier editor doesn't go far into the details of how he arrives at his numbers, but he concludes that the artificial grass will cost more over the long run and that this will be a good thing considering the water savings. This is a counterintuitive result in context, so I'm inclined to trust it, and the editor gets a cookie for choosing substantial water savings over a small margin of public money.

This goes a long way to clearing up the confusion that Ken Hedler left in the wake of his Nov 27 story on the deal, which implies the actual cost will be lower overall.

Never mind that we're spending public money of this order on sports, that's just stupid and it should be a subject for public debate. But at least they're planning to do it somewhat less stupidly. Now let's keep an eye on the contract fulfillment and see whether the numbers pan out.


An anonymous commenter writes:

"The Courier wrote an article several days ago claiming that a car crashed into the nonprofit People Who Care building at the Prescott United Methodist Church, seriously injuring one of their employees. It turns out they had the wrong agency and the accident actually occurred at Caring Presence, another senior care agency in the area. Despite a call from People Who Care correcting their mistake, the paper never printed a correction."

From Dec. 14: Truck crashes through Prescott building

Heather Murray pointed out the mistake in the online comments, but yes, it would be apropos for the Courier to publish a correction, because people might easily decide to not visit a business if the paper says the front's all caved in.

This leads to the issue of corrections policy, in my estimation always a weak area for the Courier. It appears that the editors believe that in general the readers don't notice or don't care about the paper's frequent egregious errors in reporting and editing, and what's published is already in the bottom of the bird cage, so why bother? It's apparently far more embarrassing to admit mistakes than to make them.