Sunday, July 23, 2017

“Christie commentary: Cities risk return of ‘Corruption County’ ”

Use this link to read Rick Christie’s piece in the editorial section today. Once again, the Post is freely dispensing advice to all our cities here in Palm Beach County.

Maybe it’s about time for all the cities to offer free advice to the editor; for example, how to properly respond when an “egregious” article is published (see below) and not addressed properly by the Post?

Here are two excerpts from Christie’s commentary:

     On Wednesday, when asked to pony up dollars to run the county IG’s office, city officials offered what could be construed as a resounding, “Hell no!”
     “This is an effort that is county-wide,” Robert Gebbia, vice mayor of the Village of North Palm Beach, said of the OIG. “I understand that they’re short on money, but, guess what, 39 municipalities are short on money, too.” [emphasis added]

Christie continues. . .

     They [cities] want to decide how their city’s money is spent — a rather compelling argument when budgets are tight.

Christie is right. Cities decide how money is spent. Our cities in Palm Beach County have elections and elected leaders have to answer to the voters.

However. . .

As Lake Worth’s City Manager Michael Bornstein pointed out — responding to an “incompetent” and “egregious” article about Code Enforcement here in the City — Bornstein said:

“We [the City] are held to a higher standard, they [the press] should hold themselves to a higher standard”.

Do you know what a “public editor” is? Should The Palm Beach Post have an ombudsman? Read more about that below. Here’s another “rather compelling argument” for a watchdog to verify information prior to publishing at the Post:

“Corrections & Clarifications”

“Because of a reporting error, a story in Saturday’s [June 10th] edition on the federal indictments of four current or former Boynton Beach police officers mischaracterized one of the allegations in the indictment. The document alleged Sgt. Philip Antico, after viewing video of a confrontation, allowed officers to add statements to their reports. The error appeared on page A6 of the Main section.”
—Article in the Post titled, “Boynton Beach cops beat man, then lied about it, indictment says”, datelined June 9th and published in the print edition on Saturday, June 10th.

Some newspapers have what’s called a “public editor”, or an ombudsman:

The job of the public editor is to supervise the implementation of proper journalism ethics at a newspaper, and to identify and examine critical errors or omissions, and to act as a liaison to the public. They do this primarily through a regular feature on a newspaper’s editorial page.

If the cities need a watchdog, according to the editor, doesn’t the press and media need one too?

Michael Bornstein said, “I don’t normally do this. . .”.