Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Representing in Springfield

Springfield Public Schools has employed a “consultant” Jerry McCall to offer solutions and suggestions about why school board members should vote in favor of an $8 million new school building. Many have been upset about his report, arguing that the numbers don’t add up and that his report isn’t feasible, responsible or well-researched. So why is he being paid [a lot of money] for unsatisfactory information?

I recall learning about Yellow Journalism and the powerful vehicle that press was in controlling public opinion. We all know that the press has gotten more and more pervasive and comprehensive along with knowledge in general, but I think the journalism of today is less “Yellow” and more “Transparent”.

A lot of the journalism I read from day to day is about occurrences like this that concerned citizens may need or want to know about and hold someone accountable for. It’s baffling that people in positions of responsibility would continue to be negligent. Part of that, I believe, is a disconnect between being outraged and actually holding someone accountable. I can say “Hey, Mister, I’m holding you accountable for this or that…” but when I don’t have a vote I can exercise or a way to actually punish someone for that negligence, how do I really act on that outrage?

I’d suggest making the press work for you and me. Write to those people who do have the power. Instead of merely saying “that upsets me” we can put it on paper, on a website, on a blog and say “that upsets me and Norm Ridder, Springfield City Council and School Board, you need to hold this person and the system you work within to a higher standard of accountability. Let’s make sure that the actions of our officials, especially in education and city government, is as efficient and effective as possible, so if an $8 million school is needed, that’s the most cost effective choice and we put the $10,000 that could have gone to a consultant to a better use that is more closely related to what that money was intended for.

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