Mainstream media has been easy on Boise City and Team Dave over the Poop Farm Scandal.
The Statesman has been unable to decide how or when to cover the events over the past year at the City’s Twenty Mile South Farm. With the exception of KBCI-TV the broadcast media has stuck to official reports from Team Dave and the courts.
Unanswered questions abound:
–If the city knew about the financial shenanigans at the Poop Farm in March, why were city councilors told there was only a “personality problem” as late as the last week of My 2005?
–When the GUARDIAN passed along split invoices and illegal purchase documents made at the farm to the Councilors it made a big enough impact for them to call for a full blown audit–in June 2005. Why were they deceived? Or did the Councilors offer false information? (We think not).
–The GUARDIAN provided a forum for frustrated City workers who had blown their whistles on deaf ears. Team Dave spokesman calls it a “Great learning experience.” Why were the workers ignored for YEARS?
–More Public Works Department problems came to light when the GUARDIAN exposed a scheme that allowed employees of that department to “borrow” tools for personal projects–like building vacation homes and remodeling houses. Tools included power equipment and specialized items. Statesman and TV refused to report on the practice which has been curtailed at the direction of the Councilors and Team Dave…in response to the GUARDIAN report. Why no mainstream coverage?
–Why were the Poop Farm workers under investigation allowed to stay on the job during the audit and criminal investigation? One of the alleged crimes took place DURING THE AUDIT when tires for a tractor were purchased on split invoices. Teachers and back tellers would never stay on the job if they were under investigation for criminal activity.
–The auditor quit several months ago and even offered a two week notice, but they have failed to replace him. Why?
The GUARDIAN does not see the mainstream media as “competition.” In fact we rely upon their ability to cozy up to the officials and offer information. However, when we break stories and the city says, “We’re in charge and we have it under control,” like former Secretary of State Alexander Haig, experience should tell them to ask questions.
Both Boise City and Ada County are reluctant to allow the GUARDIAN the same access they offer to the mainstreamers. Ada County refuses to put us on their press release e-mail list. Boise forces us to file a weekly official request for public records so we can share the transcript of the Mayor’s Hotline with you. Prior to the GUARDIAN, it was distributed to the mainstreamers without a freedom of information request.
These government spin doctors work hard at fogging the “window of transparency” they have all promised to keep clean. The mainstreamers should take a lesson from the Poop Farm story and push for answers.
The Statesman’s belated coverage of the audit report was what newspapering is all about–informing the public. The Team Dave spin doctor said a mouthful calling the scandal, “a great learning experience.”
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