Journalists live and die by deadlines. If we miss one, we throw a massive wrench into publication, screwing everyone in the production line, and ending up with hastily reported coverage that does a massive disservice to our readers.
But when it comes to city government, deadlines appear to be mere suggestions. Take the controversial Drug- and Prostitution-Free Zones (DFZs), for instance. Last spring, the policy was amended, with the goal of increased oversight, and renewed for exactly one year. During that year, Mayor Tom Potter was supposed to form an oversight committee to look at the policy and come up with recommendations to improve it.
That one-year deadline? It's up next week. And the oversight committee? It was formed barely a month ago, meaning there's little-to-no information to give city council members so they can make an informed vote on renewing, modifying, or killing the DFZs.
But have no fear! Unlike journalists—or just about any other profession in the world—if the mayor misses a deadline, all he needs is two other council members to vote for a reprieve. So on Thursday, April 12, he's bringing forward two ordinances that will change the deadline to September 30—nearly six months away. He probably won't have any trouble scraping up a majority to vote with him, but it begs the question: In what other aspect of life is procrastination rewarded? What message are we sending the kids? For the love of god, won't somebody think about the children?
Speaking of deadlines! At last Wednesday's "Sex, Beer, and Charter Reform" forum thrown by the Mercury and the Bus Project, Kyle Chisek—the treasurer for the mayor's pro-charter change campaign—was asked why they took so long to post their funding information. "Do you pay your taxes in January," he asked rhetorically, "or wait until the last possible minute?"
Local political blogger The One True b!X (furiousnads.com), who shouted, "Transparency, Kyle!" during the forum, later wrote, "One stalls on paying one's taxes because one hates to part with one's money. One stalls on releasing one's campaign finance reports because one wants to avoid, for as long as possible, anyone knowing who is giving you money to fund your campaign." Burn!
If you weren't at the forum, here's what you missed: Rich Rodgers, a staffer for Erik Sten, challenging Chisek to a steel cage match, a delicious drink called "The Strong Mayor" (Maker's and ginger ale), and more entertaining/insightful political discussion than you'll hear all year.
Thanks to the Bus Project for helping to make it happen.