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Wednesday February 1st 2023

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That's what she said

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“Council Seeking Budget Boost”… or not


I guess I’ve about had it with our local hometown newspaper.

You can imagine my surprise when I saw the headline for a front page article in the Camera a couple of days ago.  Council seeks a budget increase? A 27% budget increase, no less, while city departments’ budgets were being slashed!  What?

I hadn’t even opened the budget notebook for Tuesday’s study session and had absolutely no idea what the city manager was proposing in the draft budget.  As far as I knew, the council was “seeking” nothing…

The article then went on to suggest a free-spending council giving itself meals, memberships and a variety of perks that led to consistent over-spending.  A few featured and unfortunate quotes from a city employee, a juicy quote about unbudgeted i-phones and travel costs taken from the city manager’s budget unveiled the scandal.

It took reading to the end of the article to realize that what was actually going on was a proposed transfer of funds for transparency’s sake from the manager’s contingency budget to the city council budget, plus $4000.  Others may want to speak to the details and other inaccuracies in the article (for example, memberships in DRCOG, National League of Cities, Colorado Municipal League are hardly “council professional memberships”…).  For myself, I am left utterly puzzled about the Camera’s motives.

This negative slant and sensationalist story-telling about the city council has become a pattern.  An article earlier in the week left Camera readers assuming that the council was about to vote itself a health care benefit in a sneaky move.  Truth – we had passed on first reading an ordinance change that would, if passed, allow council members to buy health care through the City’s plan with no budget implications.  There was no council discussion and won’t be until we have a public hearing.  I have no idea whether or not there is council support for the idea.  Then there was the i-phone scandal earlier this spring.  Never mind that earlier councils had been given computers, phone lines, fax machines and the like.  Never mind that for most of us the computer phone allows us to read and answer the 50 to 100 constituent e-mails we get every day while on the go.

I suppose I’d also add the petty personal attacks on council members by the same disgruntled handful of folks that are regularly quoted in the newspaper.  Today’s Camera headlines the difference between the assessed value and the asking price of a councilmember’s home.  It is a non-story whose only purpose is to embarrass and to suggest corruption by innuendo.  I think this is called yellow journalism.

There is a part of me that thinks we should just be quiet and figure that the good people of Boulder can see through all of this.  Perhaps in this era of political divisiveness, elected officials are just supposed to figure misrepresentations come with the territory. But, I worry that there are significant challenges ahead of us that may be compromised by this sort of consistent negative slant.  I am saddened by what has become of my hometown newspaper.  Boulder deserves much, much better.

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