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December 18, 2008     Cheney Free Press
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December 18, 2008
 

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Page 4 Free Press What is it about politicians who continually think they're above the law? Maybe the bigger and more important question is, why and how do they continue to get elected? Of course this subject surfaces out of the slimy, smelly swamp because of the recent antics of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who has been accused of trying to curry favor by selling the senate seat of president-elect Barack Obama to the highest bidder. This news follows Republican Sen. Ted Ste- vens of Alaska being convicted on bribery and tax evasion in October. The lawmaker who was in office for some 40 years ran for re-election, but lost. Democratic Congressmen Charles Rangel is accused of failing to report $75,000 in income from the rental of his villa in the Dominican Republic but his matter still sits in bureaucratic legal limbo. History would of course tell us there's a cul- ture of "paying to play," that has been widely recognized in Chicago since theA1 Capone days. The idea seems to be so popular that it has be- come a statewide sport in Illinois. Chicago may in fact wear the idea on their sleeve and do so proudly. Mayor Richard Daley, served the city for 21 years before dying in of- rice, is credited with the cynical, "vote early, vote often" mantra. He shares the distinction with another of the city's famous "bosses," Capone. The list of notable politicians at high levels with ties to the state who have been convicted and/or fined over the years indeed appears lengthy. It is led by Democratic Congressman, Dan Rostenkowski, who pleaded guilty to mail fraud and served a prison term. Another Illinois Senator, Carol Moseley-Braun conspired to re- ceive Medicaid money, and was fined by the U.S. Senate in 1993. Blagojevich of course replaced former Gov. George H. Ryan, who was convicted in 2006 of the illegal sale of government licenses and contracts while serving as that state's Secretary of State. Which brings us to another point. Just why is such overt and brash political corruption hardly evident in the Inland Northwest? The Northwest seems - on the surface at least - to be a bit im- mune from the type of political corruption that seems to be seen elsewhere. Some would prob- ably argue that point when it came to the 2004 race for governor between Christine Gregiore and Dine Ro si. Maybe the targets are easier to spot in the wide-open spaces. Where in bigger cities, people become more self-involved, the opposite is true in our region. In smaller towns or cities there tends to be plenty of watchdogs who will blow the whistle if something doesn't sound - or smell - right. Sure, it's rumored that this group or that public official might push their weight around - maybe even illegally -- to get things done. But it is indeed rare that they ever get caught. About the only person in recent memory to get their fingers caught in the crooked cookie jar of such dirty dealings was the former sheriff of Ida- ho's Shoshone County, the late Frank Crnkovich. He was accused of racketeering, but the resulting trial ended in a hung jury the first time and was acquitted in second time he was tried. Thursday, December 18, 2008 .. - - : ... ." . ... = Personal indiscretions, such as those allega- tions against Idaho Sen. Larry Craig and his conduct in a Minneapolis airport bathroom, is an entirely different topic. "Is this just the nature of American politics?" One of the 24-hour news channels recently posed this poll question to audiences. It may be difficult these days to find a politi- cian who does not need some kind of favor to get elected, or to get things done once they settle into office. And that means payback, be it legal or not. It's an "if you help me with this, I'll help you with that" culture, an old Latin term, quid pro quo. There are plenty of good people in politics who do try to conduct the people's business. But like every other group, their efforts to do good are sullied by the deeds of a few. In the end what is sad, and forgotten on certain fronts, is the fact that we've elected these people to do our business, not theirs! Write to the Point alan ethics in re rtin ust remain the print ia's JS While there were some as- pects of columnist David Teller's frighteningly honest "Our enter- tainment-crazed media" run last week that I agree with, I don't be- lieve the world is totally lost, or thirsting in some way for better news content in the media. II Cara Lorello My experience as a panel- ist at a media workshop for the Washington Ag Forestry Leadership group made me see this is true. It's something news people shouldn't lose hope for, just because a growing number of people are turning toward other media sources, namely those that are, electronic or en- tertainment-driven, to get their news. The panel I served on was for an education seminar on how the agriculture industry could learn tips on working with the media. We had three media reps, myself representing print, KXLY's Bret Bowers for radio, and KHQ Channel 6's Dave Cot- ton for television. We talked at length about how to establish connections with media to help promote happenings in the ag industry, exchange informa- tion, ask questions, and conduct interviews. While I can't speak for my panelists' views, I was pleased to see the number Of hands raised, asking real, honest ques- tions on how to develop stories on agriculture topics people might find interesting. Mind you, I wasn't raised among, or have connections to people in the business, but I got the feeling their industry is under- represented these days, either because it's shrunk, or people just don't how to work with the media. Hence the need for seminars like this one! This group was really in- terested in learning how they could establish some lines of communication with us. And for once, it was great to see an or- ganization reaching out instead of us news folk. One audience member even pointed out it was a "role-reversal." We also were asked our feel- ing on how the media in general seems to be shifting away from an objective model, with tradi- tional reporting being replaced with more commentary, 10-sec- ond sound bites, sensationalism, with coverage running 24 hours a da ,. .... I answered it's a trend I'm aware of. While it's a disap- pointing trend to see, it's some- thing we can't solve just by wallowing over it, or abandon our moral and ethical codes just because more people are choos- ing newer, faster mediums over traditional print. This is an age where tech- nology is king. It may be true that Internet, podcasts and hand-held gadgets will one day exceed print media in terms of audience. I see this possibility as a challenge, more or less; a reason to evolve our system in a way that puts us on the same frontline with the competition. Where balance and objectivity is still the focus. We keep striving for more ways for people to get information besides print and keep building on that. Like Teller, I've been called names too. I've gotten "nosy reporter," and "media hawk" tossed my way by sarcastic (and typically non-Cheney Free Press reading) people, who've no clue of the day-do-day challenges journalists deal with. They're more than happy to joke and make fun, but so what? We're 'all' people, ai 'd we do make 9'mistakes. But if reporters start shrinking d rom the impact of cruel critics' words, the critics are the ones who win out in the end. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't hurt by certain jests; some even make me question if I should remain on staff and keep taking people's criticisms. .... But:,like ;I said durirtg the panel, you can't always plan for some things, and no day is the same in this field. Your best line of defense is keeping your lines of communication running, your mind open, work cooperatively with your contacts, and watch your competition-- always. Persistence is key to over- coming Teller's said challeng- es the media is experiencing, but hopefully for print media, they'll be challenges we can evolve past while upholding our ethics and not become a product of current fads. Pathways thankful for 'Hoopla' supporters This year the Cheney commu- nity gets all the credit for a suc- cessful Holiday Hoopla (Dec. 6). Hundreds of believing children and their parents toured his- toric downtown Cheney to have breakfast with Santa, shopped at the arts and crafts fair in City Hall, sought treasure in 4own- town businesses, and gave. light to our community tree at the library. Having had a chance to speak with Santa myself, I can tell you that he was very impressed and totally flattered by the commu- nitv's support of the historic downtown core. He told me that he intends to come back through Cheney again next year (Dec. 5) to participate in another great Holiday Hoopla. On behalf of the Pathways to Progress board of directors I would like to congratulate and thank the City of Cheney, down- town businesses, and the many vendors, volunteers, and friends that helped provide our commu- nity with another great reason to support historic downtown Cheney. Spencer Grainger Pathways Interim Executive Director A vibrant opinion page leads to a vibrant community E Vol. 112 - No. 35 Publisher Editor Harlan Shellabarger John McCallum Press Production Manager Randy Warwick Sales Reporters Pressmen Steve Barge Paul Delaney Mark Cordes Carol Campbell Cara Lorello Ed Geary DeeAnn Gibb David Teller Sergio Reynaga Wendy Westby Bookkeeper Front Office Debi Labish Graphics Andrea Bohannon John Myers Circulation Manager Rubi Geary Karen Robinette Sharon Tennison The Editorial Board is composed of Paul Delaney, Bill lift, Cara Lorello, John McCallum, Harlan Shellabarger, David Teller The Cheney Free Press is published every The Free Press requests that contributors observe Thursday by the Free Press Publishing Company, the following deadlines, which will be strictly en- William Ifft, president. Periodical postage paid at forced: Cheney, Wash. 99004. Published at 1616 W. First Street, Cheney, Wash. 99004. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to: Cheney Free Press, P.O. Box 218, Cheney, Wash. 99004-0218. ID PUBLICATION # 102240 OBITUARIES, MEETINGS OF GOVERNMENT AGENCIES -- Tuesday, 1O a.m, CHURCH, WEDDINGS, CLUB MEETINGS ALL SOCIAL NEWS -- Monday, noon DISPLAY ADVERTISING -- Monday, 4 p.m. LEGAL NOTICES -- Monday, 5 p.m. CLASSIFIED ADVERTISING --Tuesday, 1 1 a.m. Rates: Addresses in Spokane County, $24 per year within Spokane County; $36 per year outside Spokane County; senior citizens in Spokane County, $22 per year. For other rates, call 235-6184. Subscription cancellations are non-refundable! HOW TO CONTACT US Letters We welcome letters to the editor of 300 words or less. Deadline is Monday at 4 p.m. Letters must be signed and include a daytime phone number. We reserve the right to edit for length, style, policy and libel laws. Phone: 235-6184 Fax: 235-2887 email: cfp@cheneyfreepress.com online at www.cheneyfreepress.com iiiiiiii:i!iGiii:iii~ii ~::~:ii::i~::~::ii~/~::~i:::i:i i~: i i~:::~:::~:;~::;~#::~:i: ~i::~ ~i;i::;i.i:):J :!::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: ................................ ::#~::~::::: :~ ~:~:~:~::~:~:~:~:~: :~ ~:: ~:~