Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The news you didn't read this year

Among the many boring year-end roundups crowding the media, perhaps the most interesting to news junkies is the annual Top 25 Censored Stories, by Project Censored. Check it out, I promise you'll learn something really intriguing.

Stockmar: Santa's workshop in the form of proposed prisons

Steve takes his column from the prison controversy to the 50,000-foot level, and offers a better idea for how to use that land. I gotta wonder whether Brad Fain is listening, but Steve gets a cookie.

Mixed reaction to Polk's published letter

The Courier headline writer tries to soften the impact of Sheila Polk's amazing opinion in the Republic. If you haven't, go read it. It takes my breath away to see something like this coming from our stalwart county attorney, and it adds a lot of lustre to her already sterling reputation as a serious and dedicated public servant.

Linda Stein's story is solid, covering the issue and giving the other side maybe a little too much space to respond, and then going for a neutral view as well. All good. The headline, by pulling "mixed reactions" out of someone's butt, is clearly meant to confuse the picture. Bad editor, no cookie for you.

I'll also bet that Ms Polk's letter came to the Courier offices as well, and is languishing on a spike somewhere. Space considerations, I'm sure.

Editorial: Construction is on; bumps lie ahead

The unnamed Courier editor comes out clearly, if limply, in favor of widening WVR, and by extension in favor of housing and commercial growth in upper Williamson Valley. It may be that he's only really thinking in terms of his own convenience in maneuvering his oversized pickup, but let's consider for a second the wider implications, so to speak

The City has made it clear that it has no interest in more annexations in the valley. So new homes up there will be on county land, exempt from the state water regime. Williamson Valley is a smaller but significant watershed for the Big Chino aquifer, and exempt wells are a significant factor in whether we can achieve safe water yield.

Closer in, the road serves an area of mini-ranches: horses (and horse-trailers), wildlife, pedestrians without sidewalks, tractors and school buses clog a road that winds through trees, dales and homes. Farther out it's straighter and easier to navigate, but in town there's a reason it's slow.

Widening the road will cut back hillsides, level out dips and hills, clear back trees, cut into properties and put the homes even closer to the road. There's no question that it will permanently change the character of the area, complicate people's lives, reduce quality of life and squash a lot more coyotes, skunks, deer, cats and dogs.

What's the upside? Smoother, faster traffic flow to places that haven't been built yet. If that's your idea of a good investment of public funds, you're welcome to it.

Column: Publishing journal died suddenly

I'm sure a lot of readers are scratching their heads over this. E&P has been the primary trade journal of newspaper editors for a hundred years, and that's why it seems important enough to the editors to place on the op-ed page. Ordinary readers probably know nothing about it, of course, and could care less, so it was more than a little self-indulgent for the editors to do this.

But for those who are curious, check out the Wikipedia entry as a start. It's another casualty of corporate media dominance, and a sad loss to my profession. I hope they can pull something together and keep going.