Second Ward, Minneapolis

This is the public policy forum of Minneapolis Second Ward (Green) City Council Member Cam Gordon and his staff. We use this space to talk about some of what Cam’s working on, explain his positions, and share a little of what life in City Hall is like. Please feel free to comment on posts, within certain ground rules. See our disclaimer, including ground rules, here:

Monday, August 29, 2011

Star Tribune Continues the Attack on Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator

The Star Tribune is out with an editorial calling the hiring of a Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator "tone deaf." I find it incredible how tone-deaf the Star Tribune can be. Scant days after a heart-rending letter to the editor on their own editorial page from the father of a bicyclist killed on Minneapolis streets, this once-reputable paper runs an editorial indicating that, though a bicycle-safety related position is not "fluff," (or that calling it that is "too harsh," anyway) it should have been delayed indefinitely because... wait for it... the optics are wrong. Some Tea Partier may be offended and use this position, which exists in many other comparable cities, created with no new dollars, in the same timeframe as potential layoffs in another department as fodder for a substanceless attack on Minneapolis.

But wait, the Star Tribune has already done just that! Has the Minneapolis Star Tribune become a mouthpiece of the Tea Party? Is our city well-served by such a media outlet?

One must ask oneself: when would the timing be right, in the view of the Star Tribune, to hire a bicycle and pedestrian coordinator? When another bicyclist is killed on the streets of Minneapolis, one can't help but assume. Such a hiring - though too late by at least one tragedy - would certainly look responsive and resolute in light of an event within the most recent news cycle, just as a responsible hire, in the works for months, looks "tone deaf" when juxtaposed with unrelated potential layoffs. If that sounds cynical to you, then you must be tone deaf too.

However, the most unfortunate revelation of the last few days is that, like disreputable faux-journalism outfits like Fox News (the national cable channel, not the local affiliate, which is currently performing better than the Strib), the Star Tribune editorial operation now appears to be writing news stories. Consider: this lazy, sensationalistic editorial sounds the same themes as a lazy, sensationalistic bit of "news" run earlier in the week. Said "news" article cherry-picks deliciously inflammatory quotes from Fire union officials while conveniently "running out of space" for any outside advocate for the coordinator, despite the fact that the reporter interviewed at least one. I guess pro-bicyclist sources just don't have set the right "tone" for either the news or editorial side of the operation - assuming there is still a separation.

Because we now know how critically important the appropriate tone is to the Star Tribune.


At 12:33 PM, Anonymous Lisa Boyd, Minneapolis said...

Thanks, Robin. I'm also tired of the complaints about the size of the salary (i.e., that it's too much and the person hired should work for half that amount). Why is it that when someone works as a high-level civil servant or a senior manager at a non-profit, puts in 50-60-70 hours a week, and has a high level of responsibility, including oversight of millions of public or donated dollars, we still expect them to work virtually for free? I bet almost none of the people complaining about a "whopping" $60-80,000/yr would complain about corporate CEOs getting hundreds of millions of dollars per year doing NOTHING that actually creates a public benefit or invests in things we really need. (Seriously, how many new jobs are the financial markets folks really creating right now?)


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