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Opinion
May 16 - June 5, 2009 31
Publis
Community
Note
her’s
Commentary
Right to know
City spends wisely during
or overkill? economic uncertainty
Whether it’s coverage of the economic
by Vice Mayor Bob Caccamo Street investors buy low and sell high.
downturn, the swine flu or the Arizona Avenue
In the next two months we will In a simple sense, it’s all about the
construction project in Chandler, “the media”
spend a considerable amount of time timing in the investment world. And
often gets criticized for its coverage. Some say
discussing the budget for the next despite the troubled economic times
the media has blown both the recession and the
fiscal year. This will be one of the most we now live in, the City of Chandler
swine flu “out of proportion” and that saturating
difficult budget processes the City must continue to move forward with
a newspaper or newscast with constant stories creates unfair
has ever faced. With that in mind, we certain projects that help maintain its
alarm. A recent story in the SanTan Sun News “AZ Ave project stuns
are taking a very cautious approach standard of service to the community.
merchants” was regarded by some as unfair because they had not
and looking even more closely at how This was highlighted by the Chandler
talked to anyone who was “stunned” by the project.
every dollar is spent and how we can City Hall project coming in almost $4
As a longtime member of the media, first in commercial television
take advantage of bargains during this million dollars under our engineers’
and radio, later in cable television and now in print journalism, I feel
economic slowdown. estimates. Had we put off the contract
the need to clarify some of these negative comments against the
The City budget is divided between until we emerge from the fiscal woes
media.
monies that must be spent on buildings, of today, we could easily be paying
Does CNN’s repetition every hour on the hour tend to create a
roads, parks and other major projects millions more for the same project
frenzy among viewers? Probably. Do headlines blasting “swine flu”
and money earmarked for salaries, while facing a huge rent increase in two
every day in the newspaper cause some to panic? Most likely. Are
maintenance and supplies. Cities that years when our lease expires.
the reporters and editors making all this up? NO.
have mixed the two pots have wound But City Hall is not alone. In the past
Journalists talk to experts, ask questions and report on what
up in deep financial woes a year or two year we have seen many projects that
those in-the-know say. There were experts saying the swine flu
down the road. were bid as low as 60 percent under
“could be a pandemic,” and the writers reported that. And there
Chandler is fiscally frugal and does our estimates as companies scramble
have been officials talking about the poor economy for months and
not comingle the funds and “lives” to pick up business by lowering their
months; granted, reporters are looking for a story they think will sell
within each budget category. own prices.
newspapers or become the lead in the newscast, so they will dig
In order to provide and maintain A recent bid for a series of wells came
until they find something they think is worthy. But, they don’t make
services our residents expect, Chandler in at $1.3 million – nearly $2 million
up the facts.
must do a tremendous amount under original estimates. Similar
Yes, we found a few people who were unaware of the Arizona
of buying, be it for road projects, savings were met on a project of similar
Avenue construction project, and indeed they were stunned. We
maintenance to our water systems or scope for a water facility on Rural Road.
also talked to those who were in favor of the project. But we didn’t
parks upkeep. The procurement of And there have been six- and seven-
fabricate something just to “make a good story.” The tabloids do
these goods and services is a full-time figure savings on a number of other
that, but I don’t consider them to be true “journalism.”
job for several City staff members who significant public works endeavors
You’ve probably noticed the SanTan Sun News doesn’t do a lot
make sure we get good value for the for street, water and sewer projects
of repetition in major stories unless it’s really warranted. Part of
dollar. During this downturn, we are throughout the City in the past year.
it has to do with our twice-a-month publication schedule, which
seeing even better deals than we have As stewards of the public’s money,
also allows us to watch a story unfold, then step back and take a
anticipated and we are getting excellent the charge of seeing that taxpayer
broader view of the issue rather than pounding out stories just to
value on major projects, contracts and dollars are well spent is taken very
make a deadline. In the case of the recent swine flu, by the time we
purchases. seriously. We do not just spend money
could’ve written anything about it, the issue was waning and was not
It’s a lot like playing the stock market in Chandler; we spend wisely, and with
considered the problem it was originally thought to be.
where the smart – or is it lucky – Wall caution.
So the next time you read a story and think the media is going
out of their way to sensationalize it, read closer. Look for the quotes
from the experts and see if the writer is just reporting what those Bringing solar industry to Arizona
experts say.
In other words: Don’t blame the messenger.
by Sen. Jay Tibshraeny
We like being the messenger of our stories, and appreciate you
Attracting quality employers to Arizona should be one of
reading them.
our highest priorities, especially in these trying economic
times. With a ready-made market created by the 300 days
of sunshine each year, the solar industry would be a natural
fit for us.
There are two areas of solar technology: generation
and manufacturing. Several growing solar generation
companies are looking at Arizona for potential investment.
Laurie Fagen, PublisherLaaurie Fagen, Publisher
Sen. Jay Tibshraeny
The Solana-APS/Abengoa plant, a projected thermal power
facility near Gila Bend, is just one example of what can be
done with the natural resources of this state. The Solana plant would create 1500
jobs and generate an estimated $4 billion over the next 30 years.
Have a story idea or news tip? Know of an interesting photo opportunity? How
Arizona is also vying with several other states to attract solar manufacturing
about positive feedback or constructive comments? We’d like to hear from you.
employers. We have missed numerous opportunities to land these businesses here
Email us at News@SanTanSun.com.
See Community Commentary Page 32
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