Monday, January 4, 2010

Editorial: Mayor's meeting plan makes sense

The unnamed Courier editor thinks it makes sense to cut Council study sessions. This is no surprise to anyone who's watched this column with half an eye open for over a week. Both the Mayor and the editor seem to have little respect for public process.

The Mayor is betting that the public generally doesn't care to know anything about the issues that come before Council, and won't miss the study sessions in which the issues and concerns are aired, giving a week for them to soak in and for affected people to respond. I expect he's underestimating the number of people who faithfully tune in to watch the meetings on access TV throughout the week.

He's betting that ordinary citizens, nonprofits and other players in the community outside City Hall really don't have that much of interest to bring to the table, and Council can do a fine job with just the analyses that staff provides and their own bodacious sit-upons.

This strikes me as just the sort of rookie mistake we were promised would not happen because Marlin is supposedly so experienced. Whether or not it's practical in some aspects, it's a really dumb public-relations move. In these more charged and complex times, Council should be doing more public meetings and outreach, not less.

This is a way bigger town than it was in Marlin's time on Council, there are a lot more interests and more at stake in Council's decisions. Moving immediately to reduce public input and deliberation bodes very poorly for the new regime.

Amster: The times, they aren't a-changin'

Randall's a teacher, not a pro writer, and for that may be excused if his columns are a little clunky, like today. He really wanted to write on the private-prison issue, which filled the letters pages over the weekend, but he felt compelled to try and make it an example of a more general condition, which got his first few grafs lost in the wilderness of weak research.

In the second half he does better, bringing some new perspective to the debate as well as an expert view. I particularly like the ethical points at the end. I just wish he'd gone beyond the Prescott College family to do it, though. There are a lot of great minds and great people working there, but way too many Prescottonians see PC as a politically charged egghead island about eight miles off the deck of reality. That's a lot of baggage to overcome in 500 words if you want to convince anyone.

Doctors, health center director see insurance problem, solutions

Ken takes on a view-from-the-trenches assignment, and all he proves is that the people in the trenches are uniformly clueless about the goals and specifics of health-care reform. Each person he interviews gets their own pet peeves off their chest, but few of their arguments and concerns are in any way related to the reform system.

The exception is the constitutional question, which I think is a pertinent argument. Orrin Hatch and a couple of pals lay it out in today's WSJ. (Rather than derail reform, if the courts agree I think there's a chance this will stop the individual mandate and leave political space for a public program.)

But the story amounts to almost nothing but more confusing chaff in the air. The comments are more interesting.

Crime coverage on hiatus, or what?

Shots fired in one of our local neighborhoods on Saturday, shooter still on the loose, and I have to read about it in The LA Times.

A YCSO detention officer no less is busted Sunday night for brandishing a gun and a knife in two bars on the Row, including pistol-whipping another patron, ditto.

Our local paper is AWOL so far. Neither perp is Latino.

Update, Tuesday: Both stories show up for today, although there's some disagreement over whether one happened on Saturday or Sunday. We also see the arrest story on the New Year's Eve stabbing on the Row. Is the Courier only running this sort of thing on Tuesdays, maybe?