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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Local Elected's Risk Drowning In Barrels Of Ink

Posted in Sunday's paper, the Janesville Gazette made a request to the city of Janesville asking the city council to approve of changing city council meetings starting time from 7PM to 6:30PM.
JG Sidebar Excerpt:
--A public hearing on a request from the Gazette to start regularly scheduled council meetings at 6:30 p.m. rather than 7 p.m. The newspaper recently started publishing a morning paper, and an earlier start could give reporters more time to file more complete stories for the next day's paper.
A relatively harmless request - no? Well, what should have been a cut and dried reasonable request from the city's monopolized news media turned out to be a complete exercise in fear and farce.

Bear with me here for a moment...this gets a little long winded. Earlier Monday morning, Stan Milam, the Janesville Gazette's radiowinger talk show host practically threatens with mocking ridicule the possibility of any Janesville city council member who dare vote against the request from the all mighty, ever-lasting, supreme master of the local media universe, the Janesville Gazette.
WCLO Radio Excerpts:
"That will pass without one no vote... Why would you pick a fight you didn't need to pick or why would you even risk it? ... Why would you oppose that? ... But I am eagerly awaiting the council member who does oppose it... I'm just waiting for that one. Heh, heh... When you're in the business of having to be elected, what's the point with starting a fight with someone who buys ink by the truckload... it's not something the Gazette takes lightly... But I'm EAGERLY awaiting the council member who votes no and tells us why." -- Stan Milam
The truth - loosely parsed and spoken.

But Stan's comments must have worked because not only did a couple council members bow down and kiss the Gazette's feet, they actually made a motion to exceed the newspaper's request. During Monday night's Janesville city council meeting, Councilman Yuri Rashkin made a motion to change the newspaper's request from 6:30 to an even earlier starting time at 6PM!! Even the Gazette editor thought the 6PM starting time was pushing it. However, Rashkin's motion for 6PM was defeated by a 3 to 3 vote. Keep in mind council member Russ Steeber was absent from the meeting.

Based on the council's earlier discussion on the issue, it was clear they were ready to grant the newspaper's 6:30PM request. Only Council member Bill Truman was willing to risk the newspaper's wrath. With no offense to the newspaper, he explained why he cannot support changing the council's starting time. So it looked like the Gazette was going to get what it wanted because they had five members on board (required supermajority) for their request. But when the 6:30PM starting time came up for a vote, council member Tom McDonald, who earlier voted for the 6PM time and spoke in favor of granting the newpaper's request, deliberately voted against the 6:30 time. The 6:30 starting time failed by a vote of 4-2. His reasoning seemed to be that he wanted Steeber present for a vote. But that doesn't hold water for the 6:30 vote because no matter how Steeber would have voted, the request had the supermajority it needed to pass with McDonald's promised vote. It then appears that McDonald wants to revisit the 6PM issue again on behalf of the newspaper when Steeber is present.

This is the second time in less than two months Council member Tom McDonald appeared to use his position on the council to extend extraneous privileges to the Janesville Gazette.

The question then becomes: Why threaten elected officials with barrels of ink when you have them this deeply in your hip-pocket. It doesn't make sense.

Don't worry though. In Janesville, they'll get awards for this.


Anonymous said...

The Gazette didn't threaten elected officials with barrels of ink, Stan Milam did. Milam is not a member of the Gazette staff or editorial board, he works for WCLO. I also doubt that the Gazette sees a dramatic uptick in sales based on city council meetings, but I could be wrong.

Lou Kaye said...

That's a textbook defense for the Gazette. But I find myself hard pressed to dis-associate Milam from the newspaper. Perhaps if it were an intern or a freshman at the mic. The Gazette, WCLO, WJVL and the Messenger all have the same ownership. As arrogant and challenging as Milam's remarks were, the worst part of this in my view wasn't the media message. It's the idea that while the rest of the city council toils over debate and votes up or down on the Gazette's request, Rashkin and McDonald are working the ropes to advance themselves or their friends.

Anonymous said...

Milam is a Gazette tool. He might not be the official Gazette spokesperson, but he was obviously projecting the newspaper when he was talking about ink by the truckload.

I seldom agree with your lefty politics Louis, but I do appreciate your "not Gazette" perspective. Thank you.

Lou Kaye said...

Thank you for the comment.

Mary K said...

Anonymous, if you are convinced you are right, and proud of your perspective, why to reveal your name? Us lefties wanna know...

As for Stan? He's a guy in a position to speak his peace, and he does. God bless him.

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