Now more than ever, I am reminded of the importance of a strong independent press. It is not unusual (heck, it’s pretty darn common) for government officials and taxpayer-funded bureaucrats to attack the media for what they perceive to be biases and special interests.
In the current push to get voters to pass a city hall bond measure, the city of Kuna has shown itself to be no different from most government agencies that seek to perpetuate their own existence and feather their own nest. Sometimes, government agencies will even manipulate facts to dupe the taxpaying public. And when a newspaper dares to question them, the bureaucrats go on the attack.
In 16 years of newspapering, I am quite used to silly attacks from government officials and bureaucrats who don’t even want to be questioned about their decisions.
Following is the treachery and treason of which the Kuna Melba News stands accused:
• Requested that the city involve the public in planning for a new city hall.
• Asked that the city start with a city hall task force and site selection committee rather than behind-closed-doors executive sessions.
• Asked that the city of Kuna tell us how much we’ll have to pay to use an indoor pool. (“We have no idea what the fee will be,” city planning director Steve Hasson said last week.)
• Reported the real cost of the $5 million at over $9.2 million after interest payments. (It actually could go as high as $12.6 million if we get a 7.5 percent interest rate. The city is not reporting those numbers.)
• Asked that the city provide a real estate appraisal of the building for which the seller is asking $1.08 million.
• Reported that city property taxes would go up 25 to 30 percent.
I plead guilty to the above charges. Why? Because I am looking out for the taxpayer. Why? First and foremost, that is what a newspaper is supposed to do. We act as a watchdog, making sure we protect the people from a deceptive and unrestrained government.
I am reminded of a quote from U.S. Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black, in his majority opinion allowing the New York Times to publish the Pentagon Papers: “The press was to serve the governed, not the governors. The Government’s power to censor the press was abolished so that the press would remain forever free to censure the Government. The press was protected so that it could bare the secrets of government and inform the people. Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government.” Sound familiar?