mountainecho.com

October 22, 2012

Editorial

Filed under: Uncategorized — waltblog @ 5:06 pm

It is interesting that the Fall River Valley Community Services District (CSD) faces a number of major issues and they spend as much, if not more time at a candidates night talking about the type of coverage the Mountain Echo gives them instead of the issues.
To clear the air – I have spent the last 32 years as editor of Mountain Echo. I doubt seriously that I would have lasted that long if I wasn’t doing something right.
Over the past couple of years I have spent under 5% of my time and newspaper space to cover the CSD.
During the 32 years I’ve been at the helm of the Mountain Echo I have, at one time or another, taken almost every special district as well as the county Sheriff ’s Department, Coroner’s Department, State’s Caltrans, local CHP office and others to task.
I call them as I see them. That is my job. A newspaper is supposed to be the public watchdog. If someone or some entity is breaking the law, operating outside of the law, ripping someone off, setting up their own little kingdom or otherwise failing to properly serve the public and I find out about it I’m going to tell my readers about it.
Most agencies, in fact, so far, all agencies with the exception of the Fall River Valley Community Services District have noted the problem, been far less than happy with me, but corrected the problem, made sure that it wasn’t going to happen again and moved on.
While I try to give positive coverage, let people know the positive things that go on or are happening, it is not my job to be a public relations firm. Agencies and businesses don’t go out and hire newspapers, reporters or editors to put a positive spin on what they are doing, whether it is right or wrong. There are plenty of private firms that will do that for them – it isn’t newspapers.
In the case at point, I have tried numerous times to give them positive coverage and I have. If they don’t violate common sense, the law, and are doing things right, I make sure it is noted.
They continuously and wantonly violate the law, scream about how they are being picked on and cost their constituents money for these actions.
1. A public agency is just that – public. They serve the public and are answerable to the public.
 2. When a board gives direction, the management is expected to follow that direction, not find ways to get around it.
3. When the board tells a member of the public, in public, that they will do something, it is expected that they will do it.
4. When an agency has to use another agency’s services, It uses those services, it isn’t extremely rude to that agency’s representatives, nor does it spend its taxpayer or constituents money on attorneys to get its way and circumvent the procedures.
If the Fall River Valley Community Services District, staff, management and board want to be treated like grown ups, they’ve gotta start acting like them.
Personally I’m sick and tired of giving them negative publicity. It is now up to their constituents, if you folks are tired of reading about their antics, vote the folks in that will change it. If not, and if they aren’t willing to follow the laws, procedures and common sense as it applies to public entities, oh well. Either way I’ll give them the coverage they deserve.
Regarding my accuracy, I am more than happy to let folks listen to my tape recordings of the meetings. I don’t waste the readers time or my space trying to quote everything from the tape verbatim, That is a stenographer’s job. I do what any other reporter does, I put quotes around what I do use verbatim and paraphrase the rest.
Do I make mistakes. I’ll guarantee you I do. If they are brought to my attention and if, after researching the matter, I find that I did make a mistake, I own up to it and I correct it.

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