On behalf of journalists everywhere, I'd like to take this opportunity to extend my undying gratitude to local bloggers for making our jobs a million times easier. Now, thanks to all the comments that your mouthy readers leave, reporters don't have to do any real reporting—all we have to do is copy and paste your comments and, voila, we've got a front page news story.
Take, for instance, Jim Redden and Nick Budnick's news lead in last Friday's Portland Tribune, which discussed possible political fallout from the mayor's announcement that the FBI is trying to spy on city council. The piece, titled "Potter's Reply to FBI Inquiry Stirs Up City," was about 1,300 words long—a little under half of that was taken directly from comments left on the mayor's blog (portlandonline.com/mayor) or at BlueOregon.com, or was editorial description of the types of comments left.
So, once again, thank you, bloggers, for making journalism such a snap. And congrats to you, Jim and Nick, for your pioneering recognition of the newsworthiness of anonymous internet postings. I hope you frame the piece and hang it up next to your journalism school diplomas.
Speaking of pioneers—last week, I mentioned that former city council candidate Amanda Fritz was planning to show up at city council with a list of volunteers to take over the Adjustment Committee—a citizen-based appeals board for land-use exemptions that the Bureau of Planning wanted to close up. Mayor Potter put an ordinance on the block that would give the duties of the committee to a city employee.
As part of the ordinance process, representatives from Planning and the Bureau of Development Services testified that they simply could not find any citizen volunteers for the board, no matter how far and wide they looked. So in waltzed Fritz with a list of 13 volunteers and an even longer list of unflattering words for the bureaus.
She pointed out that the only place the bureaus looked for volunteers was on a general list from the Office of Neighborhood Involvement—hardly a comprehensive search. Not surprisingly, this made the bureau reps—and the commissioners, including the mayor, who were about to vote the plan through without even considering its implications—look pretty dumb.
The commissioners jumped. Randy Leonard wanted the attorney to look into the legality of the change and Dan Saltzman (Fritz's opponent until two weeks ago) asked the bureaus to consider the volunteer list for a couple of weeks.
The mayor, though, simply pulled the ordinance, likely smarting from nearly having been had.
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