Leftovers column…

Another week, another installment:

Starting the Leftovers from City Hall blog was kind like of opening a really big suggestion box.

You know, the kind where you fill out an anonymous form with either accolades or gripes and then drop it into an old wooden box, hoping that someone will actually read it.

As a result of the blog, people leave, e-mail and phone in comments all the time. Some of them are news tips or tidbits of information we never knew. Others are questions readers would like us to ask.

We got a call last week from a Glendora city employee. She said she was calling on behalf of several Tribune readers.

The woman, who called herself Fran, complained the name “Leftovers from City Hall” left a bad taste in her mouth (no pun intended).

She said in her day, leftovers meant those things on the dinner plate that you didn’t want to eat — the stuff that gets pushed into a napkin and eventually ends up in the trash or the dog bowl.

She argued the blog name implied something similar.

Surprisingly, Fran didn’t comment at all on the content of the blog — but that’s because she said doesn’t read it.

“I just can’t bring myself to read the blog because I am so offended by the title,” Fran said.

The woman suggested we change the name to “Round-Ups from City Hall.”

“Cities already get a bad reputation. We don’t need a negative title making things worse,” she said.

Reporting is essentially a craft, which means we have to take a multitude of information and whittle away until we’ve constructed the most important 15 inches of text readers need to know.

That leaves a lot of leftovers that are relevant, funny, quirky and notable, but just don’t make the final cut for print.

Instead of packing those leftovers up with the rest of the dingy, old notebooks stocked away in our desks, we decided to put it out there.

Judging from the number of comments we get, we know not everyone likes that idea.

But again, judging from the number of comments we get, we know there is a hefty readership out there that enjoys reading about all the ins and outs of local government.

So maybe the leftovers aren’t so bad.

We don’t know about everyone else, but we were always taught to finish everything on our plates.

  • Anonymous

    Jennifer/ Tania:

    I don’t think anyone could fault the press for trying help the public understand the workings of government so that pepole can make informed decisions about the people and policies they choose or choose not to support.

    In my own humble opinion, my chief gripe with the Leftover’s Blog is that it tends to obsess over matters and goings-on that are either (a) lurid, titilating and somewhat hard to ignore but not necessarily relevant to the proper workings of government or beneficial to anyone’s understanding of government; or (b)matters that are relevant on their face but which are often supported by highly speculative conjecture or uncorroborated or unvetted rumor.

    The result is that the blog become less about getting at the truth or getting as some informed understanding about how to make things better and more about which political camp (and their are at least two in every city) can more rapidly spew out more rumors and more vulgar insult. What ideally should be a reasoned debate over issues and good leadership, because a confusing morass of insult and counter-insult or rumor built upon rumor with no effort to figure what is relevant and what is the truth.

    I know democracy is messy, but I think it is your duty as reporters to educate the public and stimulate informed discussion not pander to peoples base impulses and personal hatreds.

    I would humbly suggest that you keep on with your reporting but make more of an effort to get at facts and to also question (at least personal) the motivations of those who “supply” you with “inside information.”

  • Passing thru….

    I’ll take a slice of leftover pizza to a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast any day.

  • WC0123

    I like how the blog is right now. Keep it up. For those who are overly P.C. if they dont want to read it then they don’t.

  • Anonymous

    Dear WC0123:

    I guess your comment goes to the heart of what this blogs purpose or objectives should be. In my opinion, the blog should be a forum to help the public better understand the stakes involved in governmental decision making, the motivations of the players (as evidenced by campaign contributions, past votes, and public statements etc) and a balanced assessment of the impact different decisions have on the quality of life for this Valley. That’s not being “P.C.” that’s being responsible…you know that quality we grown-ups say is important to develop.

    For some of you, however, it seems this is merely a cowards forum for people to spew all form of unsubstantiated vulgarity or nonsense that you would likely be too embarassed to state in public – not because there would be reprucussions but because you would be forced to defend or provide evidence for your positions which in many instances you would be unable to. You folks are not part of the solution; rather you are at the core of the problem. Political discussion these days devolves in nothing more than an infantile food fight that may feel good in the heat of the moment but does little to change anything for the better or help anyone make any sort of informed decision.

    If you have something challenging to say, by all means say it, but also have the integrity to back your arguments up with facts or details so that other can make a reasoned evaluation as to whether they should agree with you or not. If you just want engage in name calling…perhaps you are the one who should find another webstie….I hear anything goes on MySpace.

  • I agree with Anonymous

    You hit the nail on the head with both your comments. My main concern is that the reporting in the blog bleeds into the journalistic reporting at the paper. A blog can be as factless and tastless as it wants but keep some respect in the printed news.

  • also anonymous

    Anonymous…just wondering, do you have any facts to back up your opinions? I found it great that you would condemn some for offering their opinions in an “anonymous” form and then post your remarks as anonymous! – very entertaining.

    Blogs are simply the sharing of information, opinions and thoughts – some are good, some not so much. It certainly isn’t facts or evidence, but still informative.

    I think it is working just the way it should.

  • Lauren

    it’s the cities’ faults that they already have a bad reputation. you can’t demand that local journalists give up their 1st amendment rights and bend to your will just because you don’t want to actually work to fix your city’s bad reputation. that kind of mentality is probably part of why your city has a bad reputation in the first place.

    duh.

    and i wish the tribune would be 10x more investigative and honest about what goes on in local city politics. they need to stop shaking hands with councilmen and start digging. (on that note, this blog is great step in that direction!)

  • Remaining anonymous too

    To Anonymous:
    The blogs are a place for the average guy to voice his opinion or experience. Life for many can made very uncomfortable when they come out and critize the local government. I don’t notice your name appearing on any of your comments. Is there a reason why you also choose to remain anonymous? Why not call the Tribune and see if they have any openings for a “censor”. You would be perfect for the job.

  • Anonymous

    Seems like I struck a nerve. First of all, I think I made it fairly clear that what I was saying was “OPINION” unlike some of you who claim everything nonsensical thing you say is FACT…..as long as the rest of us don’t ask you to explain why.

    1. Being “an average guy” doesn’t relieve you of the duty to make some minimal effort to articulate a coherent thought or be factually or intellectually honest in your statements. What kinda’ b.S. populism is that. If something is an opinion then perhaps you should characterize it as such. THAT’S NOT WHAT GOES ON HERE, HOWEVER, AND YOU KNOW IT. People are accussed or all level of malfeasance or insult with nothing but conjecture and a ground ax to back it up. Peopole make claims about people being investigated by public agencies or having pilfered accounts of have contracts with sweetheart clause etc….I’m not saying that stuff doesn’t happen I’m simply saying it is the duty of our reporters to sort out FACT from OPINION ….TRUTH from VINDICTIVE CONJECTURE.

    What a bunch of weenies you guys acting like the stupid statements that are often made here are the intellecutal equivalent of the Federalist Papers. That’s just B.S. pure and simple.

    2. No one is asking journalists to “give up their 1st Amendment” right – this is precisely the type of silly statement that keeps this website from saying anything particularly informative. Of course news papers should be aggresive in uncovering wrongdoing. But is that what is really being done here.

    Okay you want to open something up for speculation because you have “gut feeling” about something an official is doing…great air that… but it is ultimately the duty of this newspaper to verify whether your “gut feeling” has substance or whether it’s just something you ate. WHAT’S THE MATTER…ARE YOU AFRAID OF HAVING TO HOLD YOUR FEET TO THE FIRE.

  • Fred

    To Anonymous:
    Calm down, dude. It is the newspaper’s responsiblity to print the facts. This is clearly a place for Joe Citizen to leave a comment (opinion). You still haven’t signed your post. How come? Do you work for one of the cities? or are you in public office? WHAT’S THE MATTER…ARE YOU AFRAID OF HAVING TO HOLD YOUR FEET TO THE FIRE.

  • Anonymous

    Fred anonymity is not the issue. The issue is supporting one identifying opinion as opinion vs. identifying it as “fact.” The second point is that people should identify the source information that supports their opinions. The rest of us can decide what we want to believe or not. You obviously WANT to persuade people of something…why else would you bother to put your thoughts down on a webstie if you didn’t. Okay…great…that’s fine. But do the rest of us the small small favor of giving us the ‘WHY’ in terms why you hold a given opinion. Simply saying “I think someone is a crook” or “I know somoene’s stealin’” or “I know someone gotta’ kickback on some deal” or “I know someone is guilty” without explaining why is actually more disingenuine thany anything you accuse me of. If you don’t want to do that then I would implore the organizers of this website to take up that task. The giving of an opinion, while certainly a Constitutionally protected right, does not transform into an exhaulted, unassailable belief that can’t be questioned simply because YOU uttered it.

    Ultimately people like you are the REAL censors since you don’t feel anyone should even have the right to say HEY what is the basis of your opinion. That, my friend, what dictorships are built upon. Conspiracies of ignorance.

  • also anonymous

    “Conspiracies of ignorance” indeed…..

    I don’t think people need to identify a “source” that supports their opinion, it is an opinion – take it for what it is worth.

    Nor is it somehow the responsibility of the “organizers” of this website to provide facts…they simply provide a forum where members are allowed to voice their opinions, thoughts, ideas, etc.

  • Anonymous

    So this forum is essentially a place for people to engage in the electronic version of a primal scream. It needn’t make sense and it certainly doesn’t matter what harm you might do to the reputation of the persons you are accusing. It is enough to be accussed. No one should feel any obligaiton to support their assertions or beliefs. That’s fine, albeit somewhat lacking in integrity, if YOU don’t feel any particular moral obligation to support any bit of nonsense that spews out of your head, but I do think it is the reporter’s resposiblity to do the necessary leg work tell us when you are wrong or least identify details that might suggest you are wrong.

    It’s funny because you keep wanting to turn this into a censorship discussion which it is not. It’s about elevating the quality of the discussion. We all want to root out corruption, we all want responsbile decisions to be made (I assume you do to). You can challenge peoples comfortable assumptions or convetional wisdom without reasoning like an imbecile. You can shake up the establishment in a manner that is inspiring and visionary without being the rhetorical equivalnet of an arsonist, content to burn everything down without reason or circumpsection.

    I’m sorry MY OPINIONS offend YOU. I won’t leave this website and I won’t be bullied away. As I will have to learn to live with you, you will have to learn to live we me.

  • Passing thru….

    Anonymous said:
    “I’m sorry MY OPINIONS offend YOU. I won’t leave this website and I won’t be bullied away. As I will have to learn to live with you, you will have to learn to live we me.”

    Nowhere in the comments did I see anyone who said your opinions offended them, nor did anyone suggest you leave. I saw people disagreeing with you. Isn’t that what this blog is all about. Everyone accepts that your opinions are just that, YOUR opinions. In fact, most of the people who responded were more respectful than you were. I have yet to see anyone make an attack on your character. You are the only one who called what anyone else had to say “B.S.” I think the great majority of bloggers are having a much easier time dealing with your opinions, than you are dealing with theirs. God help anyone that disagrees with your profound opinions. You might try taking some vitamin B complex.

  • Anonymous

    The same crowd that finds it definsible to rudely drag someone elses name through the mud without verificatio…without supporting your allegations is now lecturing ME about demonstrating respect and restrain when it comes to posting on this blog. At least I haven’t singled anyone out by name.

    God doesn’t need to help anyone who disagrees with me because there are no reprecussions to disagreeing. You simply disagree…that’s it. I don’t slander people who disagree with me on the internet and if I do have something unpleasant to say, I’ll at least try to back it up.

    Finally, THANK YOU. I do like to think that a few of things I say are profound.

  • also anonymous

    “profound”..now that is funny. Seems more like a small child having a hissy fit because the others won’t play the way she/he wants them to. With all due respect, get over yourself – folks can express their opinions anyway they see fit. Certainly, it makes sense to be respectful, but often folks are so fed up with the antics of their local leaders that they get a little passionate about their displeasure.

    To each their own my friend, to each their own.

  • Anonymous

    “AA”: Did it ever occur to you maybe I and many others like me want the same thing you might want: a competent, responsive and ethical government.

    As pathetic as the quality of commentary is at time, my chief grip is the lack of vetting and examination that follows by those who operate this site.

    Naked insults, blind anger, petty name calling and partisan rumor mongering will not create a government that better serves the people.

  • Lauren Becker

    Stop being anonymous!!!!!