SL TIMES POST-PRODUCTION MEETING San Leandro Times Editor Jim Knowles is not present, nor is his reporter or the lady who answers phones. I brought Krispy Kremes. We’ll start the meeting without them.
You don’t have to look much further than read the San Leandro Times’ letters to the editor section to realize why the weekly is committed to undressing the benefits of the city’s unionized city workers. Mayoral candidate Stephen Cassidy receives space far too frequently for many tastes, while others linked to him through his time on the school board also lend their opinions almost weekly. As part of his economic plan to save San Leandro from “bankruptcy,” Cassidy, who has long backed cutting the city’s growing pension program and called for the cuts in staff. Mayor Tony Santos famously equated Cassidy’s plan to self-styled Republican revolutionary Lou Filipovich for his comments and again mocked Cassidy recently by asking rhetorically if “Cassidy has joined the Tea Party.”
This week’s edition of Times revisits one of its off-the-mark stabs at curing the city’s current ecomomic woes: blame the few high-wage earning city workers for the problem. The Times reported San Leandro City Manager Stephen Hollister’s new contract calls for a 15 percent boost in his earning above the next city employee. According to the Times, Hollister will make over $202,000; that’s a 1 percent increase over his last one-year contract, but there is more. The Times also reports Hollister, like other city employees, will lose 5 percent of their salaries through 12 furlough days approved by the city council last winter. So, the “City Manager To Make Over $200,000” headline is actually “City Manager Takes 4% Pay Cut.” That is a huge difference in editorial decision-making and just another attempt to erect divisions between workers of the virtually the same economic class. Hollister making $200,000 is hardly the equivalent of Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein. (Watch Saturday Night Live’s spoof on public employees, here.)
In the name of saving the city’s economy, The Times wrote one of its most egregious articles two weeks ago by painting the construction of the new Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in San Leandro as some type of money-draining endeavor. The underlining story to nearly every event in this city and the nation is the poor economy, but isn’t the largest construction project in the city’s history far more lucrative than the loss of property taxes on the Kaiser site? What the Times did not report is Kaiser will be paying property taxes on the land for the next four years or until the complex is operational. If there is one issue pointing to a complete lack of editorial judgment, it is this one. Is the paper needlessly stoking fear in its readers or does it know something Nobel Prize-winning economists do not foresee? By 2014, the Great Recession of 2008-11 will surely be behind us and alarmist stories like these only foment discontent where none exists. Besides, it’s a hospital, not a racetrack.
Typographical errors: none.
The Times said, “San Leandro got a new vice mayor at Monday night’s City Council meeting, District 2 representative Ursula Reed was elected by her fellow council members, unanimously, but Jim Prola also wanted the job.” Did he? Councilman Prola told The Citizen he did not want the job and had attempted to enlist Councilman Michael Gregory instead. Did the Times writer make the insinuation because Prola seconded Gregory’s motion of his own appointment? Prola, in fact voted for himself, but Reed also voted for herself, too. The unanimous vote for Reed was 7-0. The clear subtext to the vote was purely political. It was a proxy vote for backers of Councilwoman Joyce Starosciak against her mayoral opponent, Tony Santos. That was the story.
Starting today and every Friday, The Citizen will try to set the record set with a post-production criticism of the San Leandro Times, but get this, without its staff. There’s nothing more interesting than a newspaper war! Coming tomorrow and every Saturday, we’ll have a rundown of the week’s most interesting blog postings from sites around the East Bay blogosphere and every Sunday, a compendium of links to stories and features from the world of politics set in the context of our region and state.
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