Editorial: City Times’ Annual Airing of Grievances
Compiled by City-Times Staff
City Times staff members work hard throughout the year to bring you the very best in ultra- local news in an unbiased, straight-forward manner. Over the past four years we’ve experienced some amazing changes: transitioning from a weekly to a daily news site in late 2012, moving to print in May of 2014 and joining forces with Multi Media Channels this November, making the City Times the largest newspaper in Portage County. It’s been very humbling and we have a lot to be thankful for.
Over the past year we’ve obtained volumes of off-the-record comments and behind-the-scenes hilarity, and we deal daily with absurd bureaucratic red tape in our news gathering efforts which we typically keep to ourselves until Festivus, a fictitious secular holiday seemingly designed for blowing off verbal steam. Below we’ve compiled our annual airing of grievances for 2014, listed in no particular order:
- Free Range Internet Comments – While we really encourage discussion in all our forums, we’d really prefer if everyone actually read the whole article before commenting or asking questions. The information is usually there and headlines are not the facts. Heck, they’re usually hardly sentences.
- Elected Officials Who Leave Office Early for Personal Gain: Health issues or a change in family circumstances typically are forgivable reasons for leaving any elected post, and many politicians can and have used these reasons for leaving office early even if it’s not true. But in 2014, former Mayor Andrew Halverson announced he was leaving his spot as chief executive five months early for an executive job in the private sector. Some could argue Halverson’s time in office couldn’t have ended in a better way, but the early absence left a bitter taste for those looking for trust in our local politicians.
- Weepy Candidates: When you run for office you transition from regular citizen to holder of the public trust: a sacred and undeniably difficult task which comes with a much higher level of accountability. The media’s job is to ask you hard questions, to insist you answer for your actions and to play devil’s advocate. Politicians and candidates should welcome the hard questions.
Sometimes local officeholders and candidates have a condition we call “verbatimitus”- a disease wherein they believe a news organization must print their submitted 500 word press release word-for-word as opposed to disseminating the most relevant information while adding background information, giving the issue greater context.
Sometimes they feel it’s appropriate to manufacture the news by insisting we give them time to prepare by sending questions in advance, though in this case this generally leads to manufactured or false statements which cannot be clarified.
We are giving you the ultimate job application for the ultimate job to protect the public trust and public purse. If you can’t take the heat, you won’t last in the kitchen, and it won’t be anyone’s fault but your own.
- Poor Speeding Enforcement/Crossing Guards on County HH: County highway officials compare part of County HH to a stretch of Church St. between Patch & Heffron because both are highly- traveled, extended thoroughfares which run through a mix of residential and commercial areas. School crossing guards along both roadways have complained about speeders. Both segments of roadways need additional traffic signals because clearly, too many drivers either don’t see or don’t care about posted speed limits.
But the similarities end there: a school crossing on Church St. has a student cadet, an adult crossing guard and usually a squad car parked at the intersection, but the crossing at HH & School St. hasn’t had a crossing guard in two years. It’s amazing nobody’s been killed along HH, which is also home to one heavily- used portion of the Green Trail, and traffic presence and speed has only increased thanks to growth in Crossroads Commons and East Part Commerce Center.
Village of Whiting officials have been unable to find anyone to fill the crossing guard position but have asked families to either drive students to school or have them ride the bus to avoid the unmanned walk. Students continue to walk to school, meaning this crosswalk should be a priority.
- The School Board: This group containing several professional micromanagers and nitpickers have made our list for the second consecutive year. In 2013 the school board opted to no longer hold committee meetings which forced longer full board meetings to run as long as six hours. In 2014 those committees returned, shortening each board meeting by about half.
But fundamental belief systems, rather than facts, continue to steer the conversation, leading some to consider a recall of at least some on board though no one has come forward to lead that movement. Despite the best efforts to right the ship by a few on the board, open session meetings are loaded with rude and accusatory tones, while shouting can be heard through the wall of closed sessions.
We love politicians who fight for the beliefs of their constituents; but politicians who rally solely on the grounds of personal principals, individual reputation and beefs have no place in any elected office.