Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Happy Hour at the Heron?

C'mon, it wasn't that bad. In fact, most of you nailed the news on council's about-face on what to do with its moldy, old night club. Some brave souls even ventured to write about the surprise fuss over the aquatics project, though you had little, if any, background. Good instincts! That story has a far greater personal and financial implications for your average Missoulian.

Ginny Merriam did a solid job of reporting both angles. In simple, clear prose, she told her readers what happened and what it might mean, and she put the news in context with just enough background. She also gave readers a sense of the debate (the pros and cons) and the captured the frustration some speakers felt. Her story would have made perfect sense to readers familiar with the issues and those seeing them for the first time. The only thing I might have added to her reporting on the swimming pools would have been a response from the mayor to his critics. (Did you catch a whiff of election politics in both issues? The city's critics included two City Council candidates.)

I was especially proud of those you who sat through some of the energy expert's criticism of the cities' bid to buy NorthWestern Energy. As dense as that subject must have seemed, I'll bet you understood the thrust of his main argument: the cheap hydroelectric power the cities' hope to offer customers may not be there.

If anything, I hope Monday night drove home the need to be as prepared as you can be before the meeting and to listen hard, even when it the jargon gets thick. And don't be afraid to grab people to answer your questions.

Questions? Comments? Observations? Bad jokes?

7 comments:

persond223 said...

Ginny wasn't kidding about shoddy City reporting before she came along. I tried to get some background on the aquatics bill and i got totally confused. But based on the reports, it sounds like the competitive pool was going to need private donations from the beginning. Wern't all those people burned up by the fact that they needed to go door to door for cash?
Anyway, at least nothing exiting happened in game five of the NLCS (other than Albert Pujos hitting a 3 run homer with two outs in the ninth to put the Cardnals ahead and keep them alive in the series).

pbulge said...

how i almost got kicked out of the j-school...
i didn't read the first background story in the packet before the meeting because i had read it when it was in the missoulian. so person and tim and i get back to the lab to type up the stories after the meeting and i'm telling them about how i've got this sweet lead. they ask me what it is and, after hesitating, i tell them. "The Blue Heron may fly again." boy, am i glad i told them. anyway, the meeting wasn't as bad as i thought, although it's weird how nobody looks at anyone else while talking or being talked to.

pbulge said...

P.S. did anyone else notice that Snodgrass was wearing a purse like it was a fanny pack? do he and his grand coalition expect to be taken seriously looking like that?

jacobB said...

I got a little muddled myself with the background reporting... The council seemed to be saying the Blue Heron plans would be temporary, maybe only 2 yrs... Are plans for a City Hall annex still in the pipe? Is that the fallback idea after Don Nicholson has his third bad experience with toxic basement mold?

kilynch said...

The meeting wasn't half as bad as I expected (minus missing baseball and hearing davis complain about missing the first episode of Ms. Seventeen)...I actually found some of the people somewhat funny and entertaining (yes, peter, I noticed the man-purse/fanny pack too..fantastic) What was the deal with the sewer convo following discussion of the Blue Heron though? And are they all that uninterested in what each other have to say or do they just pretend not to pay attention?

Swibold said...

Seeing the Game 5 would have just given you false hope, DP.

Swibold said...

Keriann -- The sewer SID didn't get much attention because the real debate and vote over whether to do this project happened months ago. The actual awarding of the bids is kind of a formality. Clayton tried to get something stirred up by everyone else was clearly bored by it -- or afraid to rile up constitutents again.

Jacob -- The city is going ahead with its study of space needs and plans to build an annex. That's why the Heron would be a temporary home. But who knows? They could be there a long time at this rate. I think they ought to leave a neon sign in the window, don't you? A disco ball in the ceiling might actually increase attendence.

PBulge -- Trust that instinct to bounce your "clever" leads off somebody else. Whenever I'm tempted to write something like that, I ask myself if it could possibly make sense to anyone who wasn't an insider. The answer is usually "no." Actually, the answer is usually "huh?"