Friday, May 27, 2011

Solar farm casts shadow

Jason Soifer covers the inevitable conflict between a proposed Chino Valley solar-farm project and NIMBY neighbors. But rather than just tell the story, he gets in a few editorial characterizations to fuel the silly fire.

Starting with the head and subhead, we get a decidedly dark view of the project. The first adjective Jason applies to the project is "sprawling," carrying firmly negative connotations compared to, say, "large." Later he writes,

"The plans includes a 41,000-square-foot substation, water tank and tower, communications building, fencing topped with barbed wire around the farm, and trees between the fence and the roughly 70 properties that will eventually watch their serene backyard views turn partially to black."
Leaving aside the idea that "properties" can "watch" anything, notice the contrast between "serene" and "black," even though he's just described a screen of trees that will clearly improve the view of treeless hardpan that we see in the photo. Maybe he thinks they'll be black trees. The graf should have ended with "70 (bordering) properties."

Jason runs two different versions of the "ram it down our throats" quote, but apparently never asks town officials to reply to this characterization of their actions. He also gives a lot of ink to a letter from a purported prospective property buyer that happens to agree with the homeowner. Clue, Jason: one opinion does not constitute a survey, and you didn't verify the letter was genuine. The faked letter from the assessor should raise red flags about how far people are willing to go on this, and should have been more carefully followed up.

People have a right to concern about what happens on the other side of their property line, and the paper has the right to publish an editorial opinion. But keep the editorials out of the news pages, please. This sort of thing is bad for the community and bad for the paper.

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