Duarte fans the political flames after Vulcan Materials fire

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Duarte officials are trying to throw some coals on a fire at a Vulcan Materials Co. facility last week.

I can’t say I am surprised. When has an opportunity ever been lost in politics?

More to the point, after a fire broke out at a plant run by Vulcan last week, Duarte jumped at the opportunity for some bad press for the company.

On Duarte’s city website, the city issued a press release regarding the incident entitled “Fire erupts at Vulcan Materials plant.”

Duarte immediately notified AQMD of the fire, according to the release. The release goes on to discuss air quality briefly before tacking on a picture.

Did the fire warrant a reaction from Duarte? Duarte residents would resoundingly say yes, while Vulcan officials and mining plan proponents would probably argue this was politically motivated.

I understand the excitement about the incident. When I first heard there was a fire at Vulcan, I immediately realized the implications and the possibilities arising from any incident at one of the company’s plants.

The company is the middle of a political battle in Azusa where they are trying to get a development agreement passed for a new mining plan amendment for the Azusa Rock Quarry. A referendum election is scheduled for Jan. 25.

Duarte has opposed the mining plan and is challenging it in court.

If this had been a serious fire, there would have been political implications and opponents of the plan would be armed with additional ammunition.

But, alas, it was not to be. The fire was small, the affect minimal, and it went relatively unnoticed to most people.

But Duarte posted a story on its home page in somewhat of an alarming fashion. Should the city have informed its residents? Yes. I mean, we wrote about it. It would be kind of hypocritical to say no.

But does it smell of political motivations? (besides the burning rubber smell) Of course, which somewhat taints the action all together.

Fires happen in cities, often times at businesses, and without the help of the fire department or local residents, we may never know about them. Cities aren’t often in the business of writing press releases when a roofer starts a small tar fire or a restaurant has a minor kitchen fire.

When Duarte decides to write a story on this subject, one assumes it is with a purpose beyond reporting the news.

It’s to provide a spark.

Email: daniel.tedford@sgvn.com | Twitter: @dgtedford @sgvtribune | Facebook: SGVTribune

  • Wow

    Wow. So sad that we cannot trust our city government. Instead we have politically motivated press releases? Wow. Duarte City Hall is a mess…always has been.

  • David

    Hey Daniel,
    Pot meet Kettle

  • http://www.sgvtribune.com Daniel Tedford

    I expected this response and I can’t say it isn’t wholly unwarranted. I conferred with several colleagues and outside friends wondering if I was being critical. The resounding answer was no.

    But that is outside of the point I want to make in response. I think that argument – media fans the political fire just as much as politicians – is circular reasoning.

    If we lived in fear of that criticism and chose to ignore stories to avoid adding to the fervor, how would we ever write about politics? Any story that is in any way critical or shows a politician in a negative light could be criticized (and often is) as a media creation meant to urge feuds and feed turmoil.

    Just because we write about politics doesn’t make us political. When we write about political turmoil, that doesn’t make us tumultuous. If I report on a political argument, I am not being argumentative. So, if I write about one entity turning an apolitical incident into a political one, I don’t believe I am guilty by association.

    Think of the slippery slope of your comment outside the context of the media. If you go and talk to your friends about this story, are you inciting or sensationalizing the episode? Or merely making an objective statement about something you witnessed?

    Obviously, it can’t be ignored that writing about something naturally raises a situation to a different level of awareness. What I try to decide is if something is worthy (information that is pertinent/necessary/interesting to the people) of giving it the added attention. I felt this situation warranted the post and I believe I was fair in reporting it.

    I will also admit that there are reporters and media outlets who do use their abilities for evil and pour gas on the fire or push something to be more than it is. It is a fine line that we walk. Every time I report on something, I weigh its newsworthiness, run a check list of pros and cons, consider the consequences, who this would be important to and why. For a blog post, this passed the test.

  • Bruce

    While a little burned rubber and some smoke may be no big deal, what is a big deal to many families that live near this hideous open strip mining operation is the fact that not only our mountain views but potentially our health is at stake here. Anything and everything to do with this mine is relevant, pertinent, and newsworthy. In fact I am shocked that there is not more coverage by not only other papers but television stations as well. This slick well coordinated grab for the westernmost 80 acres needs all the scrutiny it can get.