We Didn’t Start the Fire: a discussion on political reporting

Note: I changed the headline because when I have the opportunity to make an 80s pop music reference, I take it.

Common blog commenter “David” responded to a recent post about Duarte possibly trying to turn a fire at a Vulcan Materials facility into a political affair.

As a response to that post, David said “Pot meet Kettle” implying that, for my part, I was guilty of the very thing I was writing about. In response, I left the following comment that I thought would make for some good discussion:

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.

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

Will Josi Kenline be fired?

La Puente City Manager Josi Kenline is on the hot seat again.

There will be a performance review of Kenline’s performance during a closed session meeting of the City Council tonight. Insiders are suggesting that Kenline’s future with the city is in doubt.

LA PUENTE — The City Council will conduct a performance review of City Manager Josi Kenline in a closed session meeting today, and several City Hall insiders believe members of the council will try to fire her.

Kenline, who started a year ago after spending several months with the city as a volunteer, is in the center of a divided council and has feuded throughout the year with Mayor David Argudo.

Argudo led a council decision last week requiring Kenline to obtain approval before hiring and firing department heads.

Kenline has had problems since she started with the city. In her first five months on the job, she had three performance reviews scheduled by the council. In the past, she has asked for reviews to be done in public, but tonight’s review will be behind closed doors.

Her reason to ask for the public meetings is that she has accused Argudo of retaliating against her for personal reasons.

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

Herman to leave Glendora council. Could March election be the biggest political shift for the city since Herman was first elected?

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if you haven’t seen it yet, some fantastically handsome journalist is reporting that Glendora Councilman Ken Herman will not seek re-election in March.

The decision comes in a year where political ally Gary Clifford stepped down and his appointment is only serving as a fill-in.

That leaves two seats wide open on the council and incumbent Doug Tessitor left to fend off challengers all by his lonesome.

It won’t be terribly lonesome. He still as Herman’s full support in seeking re-election and Tessitor has been around since 2003, only one year less than Herman.

The pair stormed onto the Glendora political scene in 2002 when Herman, Gary Clifford and Cliff Hamlow were all elected to the council during a 2002 recall campaign. Tessitor was elected the following year.

The move started a changing of the guard in Glendora and set a political majority for nearly a decade. But with Clifford departing this year and Herman’s tenure ending in March, Tessitor will be the sole voice left from the once prominent majority.

How much will change is uncertain. Two candidates for council are John Fields and Jason Nagy, both of which are soon to be new members of the local Kiwanis club of which Herman is president.

In addition, current council members Karen Davis and Gene Murabito often agree with Tessitor and Herman on city decisions. The group is often known as a 5-0 council, even though Murabito and Tessitor love to joke about that distinction.

When I talked to Herman today, he said he hopes nothing changes.

“I hope it continues to be the way it has been,” he said. “I hope it doesn’t have a radical change.”

Diamond Bar selects new mayor, mayor pro tem

Diamond Bar planned the annual musical chairs with the mayor/mayor pro tem positions Tuesday.

The Diamond City Council on Tuesday night selected Steve Tye as mayor and Ling-Ling Chang as mayor pro tem.

Tye, who was first elected in November 2005 and re-elected in 2009, replaces Carol Herrera. This is his second term as mayor, first serving from 1997 to 1998.

Chang, first elected in November 2009, previously served on the Walnut Valley Water District Board of Directors and worked in the education field. This will be her first term serving as mayor pro tem.

Still on the council are Herrera, Ron Everett and Jack Tanaka.

The positions are largely honorary and many councils, such as Glendora and Duarte, exchange the positions on a yearly or biennial basis. For all intensive purposes, it is mostly done to choose a person who runs the council meetings. On a more nuanced basis, council members often turn to the mayor as a spokesperson for the city and the positions are used by some council members as a display of pride, leadership, or accomplishment.

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