There’s been too much crime in the newspaper | Letter to the editor

Posted 1/13/21

What has happened to The Leader? Not many years ago, we encountered page upon page of news along with hard-hitting editorials and commentary of substance. Instead, the past issue followed a trend …

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There’s been too much crime in the newspaper | Letter to the editor

Posted

What has happened to The Leader? Not many years ago, we encountered page upon page of news along with hard-hitting editorials and commentary of substance. Instead, the past issue followed a trend easily observable over the last few months: two fear-inducing front-page stories, with the lead about a head-on crash east of Sequim and the other about an ongoing murder trial. In one issue, I counted no less than five crime stories. 

Reading The Leader has become more and more like watching the 6 p.m. news or reading the tabloids. Save for the successful United Good Neighbors drive, last week’s most vital local news was inside. That’s where we learned about the sales tax for affordable housing, developments in the ongoing PDA fiasco, the Port Townsend chief of police candidates’ forum, and another story of front-page import, the Navy’s drive to potentially desecrate our treasured state parks with special operations training. Tuesday morning’s discovery of a dead woman in the homeless encampment, which made it online, will presumably appear next week. But will it be accompanied by the kind of in-depth, heart-wrenching discussion that County Commissioner Kate Dean initiated on Facebook?

The change in values that has accompanied the arrival of The Leader’s current leadership is dismaying. Where has there been any discussion of the national election that the entire world, including our deeply concerned local populace, has watched with a mixture of anticipation and dread? Where is analysis that connects so many of our local issues to funding and program priorities determined on the federal level? A sensationalist front-page story on a murder trial, yet nothing that connects the dots and reports on organized threats to our freedom? The time to refocus, take the lead, and create a paper more in tune with this county’s needs has come.

Jason Victor Serinus
PORT TOWNSEND

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HarveyW-Colatteral Damage

Sorry to burst bubbles but there is not any continuity with the Leader. There have been many owners and editors over the years. The short lived manifestation of the publisher Mullen and editor Miller that did dig deeper was short lived. This is what I wrote to the new publisher when she asked in one of the only "editorials" you can find from the newest business using the name "Leader" what we would like to see. Newsflash- follow ups and depth.

Hi Donna-

Welcome- As always I am long on words, but a stand alone comment with some detail is needed.

I own the business across the street, Forest Gems Woodcraft, currently closed. I was a fervent supporter of the Leader for a while. For years I knew the Leader as a mouthpiece for the FWPDA, that took part of Fort Worden from all the people of the State, and put it into the hands of the local special interest status quo.

With a brief exception, The Leader took no issue with the no term limit City Council, and the Mayor they appoint from within (currently a 3 term appointed Mayor with a near 20 year history of over spending on curb appeal as a Council Member, who's influence grew with the years. The Leader described her as "outspoken". She is very quiet about parking, ignoring studies, and kicking the problem endlessly down the road.

The $1.2 million visitor center concrete and carbon heavy "park" is an example. $600k cost (for what) and $600k to finance. The opening of the park was the first time the new City Manager met his public. Your readers owe that money, and don't seem to mind. Why should the local paper? Give them what they want.

The 3 time appointed Mayor, who has her own parking lot for her Real Estate franchise just outside the historic district, participated in actively deconstructing the volunteer parking program, and ignoring expensive studies, which benefited developing the upper floors of Water Street. There are no requirements for parking for new occupation or development that has grown. Things got out of whack with a 20 year City Manager, that many say did not act in the best public interest. Creating chaos is not planning as it is supposed to be. When the 3 term Mayor again took office she did nothing regarding parking.

The Leader, under the very temporary Editor Dean Miller, who's background was open government, took on for a brief moment the issue of manufactured parking problems and more, including the less than open process for selecting the new City Manager.

Parking deconstruction gave us all a cultural shift to "me first" by many residents and workers displacing their own and everyone's customers. The Leader found missing parking funds related to permits involving the Silverwater. The story and all related deconstructed parking issues going back 5 years died. The focus died. The public yawned. Dean Miller left for a job that more suited his abilities.

Newspapers can do fun things like the Rhody Fest section you speak of. Historically newspapers are most important as the "Fourth Estate" DEFINITION--The term Fourth Estate or fourth power refers to the press and news media both in explicit capacity of advocacy and implicit ability to frame political issues. Though it is not formally recognized as a part of a political system, it wields significant indirect social influence.

So the Leader lost focus, and Dean Miller, and my sense of its potential. One reporter moved to entertainment. The parking problems continue, of course not visible for the last 2 months, but will factor into any recovery at the hands of our new and improved (if you believe the PR) City Manager. He took on the job knowing full well about ignored municipal codes he is responsible to fund. He hired a new interim Police Chief who is not allowed to fulfill his entire obligations and oath of office. Corrupted thinking at the top flows down hill. No mask can keep you from catching it, or hide your face for those that look past the masks.

What was the understanding the incoming City Manager had with the same old Council member and appointed Mayor who vetted and hired him? The public didn't care. The public still doesn't care, it seems. We get the government and news we deserve. Locally and nationally. Locally, one like myself is portrayed as picking on individuals. Some individuals want all the rewards and no responsibility.

17 million in City Debt, 1.7 million yearly debt service that eliminated funds for road maintenance and moderate income housing. The housing lost out as REET funds were used elsewhere. Obviously, tax revenue is way down, things won't be improving any time soon unless bankruptcy is declared.

The last from the new City Manager is that he will look into parking, which has been done, and promises of solutions I have from the last City Manager broken. A convenient reset, trashing many studies and common sense. Now, who benefits?

So, some will miss Rhody Fest this year. I miss the town I thought I was a part of for 25 years. But lets all think happy thoughts. Lets not make problems for our Council and Mayor. Things are tough right now. Some people just won't let things be, like the Leader and its readership did.

So, I step up with a little history so you can make your choices with information from many sources. I know you have met the Status Quo. Welcome to PT. Don't rock the boat, its had a slow leak for years.

Harvey Windle

Forest Gems Gallery

Collateral Damage of the Status Quo

Wednesday, January 13