Wednesday, October 26, 2005
As a former member of the Pilot & Today's editorial board, I respect and appreciate the process that determines which topics and which positions are editorialized twice weekly in our paper. That two community members, generally of differing political views, are included on the board proves that the publisher of the paper is keen on capturing the many voices of the community. I fondly remember the weekly editorial board meetings, which were supposed to last an hour but inevitably spilled into a second and sometimes a third hour, with lively, intelligent and objective exchanges of ideas and opinions. I was always impressed with the thorough drafts of the editorials that were sent to us for review just hours after the meeting. The drafts of the editorials always captured the key ideas we discussed in the meeting, and included fair presentation of the opposing position. That careful research and presentation wasn't apparent to me in the Oct. 22 editorial opposing the library expansion ballot measures.
Now, I disagree with the position in Sunday's editorial, and I was a member of the library's Site Selection Committee -- points not to be taken lightly -- but I'm writing because the argument in Sunday's editorial is constructed irresponsibly. The central argument is that $30 million is too much to spend on a library expansion, yet the editorial does not indicate what in that $30 million is considered excessive. Furthermore, the editorial ends with the admission that the editorial board cannot think of a better use for $30 million, just that the library isn't deserving. Offering a concrete plan as to how the $30 million should be spent would have made for a stronger, more responsible editorial. The editorial praises the library and its committees for their careful and thoughtful research into the expansion and the process of bringing the measure to the ballot, a process almost a decade in the making. And yet, the editorial summarily dismisses the findings, purely based on the price tag.
The public forums appearing around the editorial in Sunday's paper indicate that the library ballot measures have much support. I hope that's the case. But the influence of the Pilot & Today cannot be dismissed. The editorial board is aware of the power it has to form opinions and voting behaviors, and it must use that power responsibly. Sunday's editorial was not a responsible use of that power.