If anybody wonders why newspaper readership is inexorably moving away from print and online, one need only look at Seattle’s two dailies today for a crystal clear illustration of at least one major factor: the online editions simply appear more informative.
Both papers devote their two right columns — fully one third of their available front page real estate — to the same big story: the $97.2 million wasted by the Port of Seattle… or so says a performance audit commissioned by the State Auditor and conducted by an out of state firm. Neither article actually bothers to explain what a “performance audit” is, its intended purpose, or that it’s not by nature as objective or uniformly defined as the more common financial audit. People read the word “audit” and they think of ledgers and spreadsheets and absolute mathematical facts, but more than just an examination of the books, a performance audit is intended to analyze whether an agency is performing its actual task, and recommend procedures to increase efficiency. It’s kinda subjective.
Not that I mean to dismiss the audit or defend the Port, which has in recent years been wracked by scandal, boondoggles, and administrative arrogance, it’s just that the big news isn’t all that much news to even the most casual Port observer, and that headline-friendly $97.2 million figure is more printed in soy-based ink than chiseled in stone. The Port’s problems are well-known and long term, and what both papers neglect to tell readers is that in each of the past two cycles, efforts to elect a reformist majority to the commission have been thwarted when the business community successfully targeted one of the reformist incumbents.
As for the other headlines, the P-I fills up the entire rest of its front page with a dire warning not to inhale buttery flavor, a disturbing and important story, but again, not actually news, while the Times matches by following yesterday’s story about lead in children’s jewelry with a “special report” revealing that few children in WA state are ever tested for lead poisoning. You’d think that with all this focus on lead poisoning, the Times might have mentioned the results of Darcy Burner’s free lead tests? (Hmm. I bet if Rep. Dave Reichert had conducted this innovative public service he would have warranted a headline and a congratulatory editorial touting his bipartisanship.) But no, it’s more important to tell us that Americans like iPods and BBQ, but that beer consumption has fallen 12-percent since 1980… a statistic entirely explained by the fact that I graduated college in 1985.
Read the front page of the dead tree edition of either paper, and you’d think apart from the big story about the Port, it was a pretty slow local news day… but go online and you’ll actually find plenty of hard news stories to accompany your morning cup of
joe coffee-flavored steamed milk. Gov. Gregoire will be doing what she does best, suing the powerful on behalf of the people, this time the EPA for denying states the right to set their own auto emissions standards… A groundbreaking wave-energy project has received a first in the nation license to begin construction in Makah Bay… The downtown bus tunnel will remain closed through Monday due to computer problems (did they upgrade to Vista?), snarling holiday traffic… And despite our supposedly crappy congressional representation, the new 2008 federal budget includes an additional $24 million for Puget Sound cleanup, and $88 million for building light rail:
Sound Transit officials said Thursday the money, allocated on a competitive basis and more than initially expected, is a vote of confidence in the rail extension. The allotment also bodes well for Sound Transit’s chances of winning a $750 million grant, which the agency will seek in January, officials said.
(Shhh. Don’t tell Ted Van Dyk.)
It’s all in the P-I and the Times, and more. You just wouldn’t know it glancing at the newsstand.
“its intended purpose,” Goldy, not “it’s.”
Neither article actually bothers to explain what a “performance audit” is, it’s intended purpose, or that it’s not by nature as objective or uniformly defined as the more common financial audit.
The first ‘it’s’ is a possessive, therefore, properly, ‘its.’
wasn’t posted when I started writing my screed!
did they upgrade to Vista?
Ha! I blogged about that days ago!
Piper Scott spews:
Can’t bring yourself, can you Goldy, to acknowledge that the performance audit conducted by Brian Sonntag’s office came about as the direct result of…a TIM EYMAN INITIATIVE!!!
Yessir! I-900, which you opposed, provided the statutory authority for the State Auditor’s office to root through the Port of Seattle’s scores of shoeboxes filled with what passes for “records” at the Port.
How about that Tim Eyman…giving us this tool for governmental accountability and transparency…all opposed by the HA Happy Hooligans.
That Christine Gregoire is resurrecting “state’s rights” to sue the EPA is, perhaps, a kissin’ cousin to efforts to undermine Civil Rights legislation passed in the 1960’s.
What about the Supremacy Clause do you not understand, Chrissie?
And of course…the bus tunnel…fubared beyone hope on account of…LIGHT RAIL! You, like, expected anything less?
poor, pathetic, miserable, little troll spews:
Lo these many years I’ve carried a lantern at high noon thru the mean streets of Middle America looking for an honest Democrat. Finally found one. Brian Sonntag’s is it. David Goldstein isn’t.
Sorry Goldy, the light rail funding article singled out Patty Murray as being helpful not big Jim.
@1 & @2,
So, I’m a crappy proofreader. No news there. (And it looks like Darryl fixed it for me.)
I-900 superseded performance audit legislation passed by the Legislature the previous spring. (Legislation on whose behalf I testified.) It was largely redundant.
By the way, one of the criticisms in the report is the lack of cooperation by port officials. Performance audits, because they’re not merely financial audits, don’t work well unless the people being audited cooperate. There is a risk that if these audits are seen as punitive or political, folks will stop cooperating, and they will end up being entirely worthless.
It’s not a cure all. The recommendations are meaningless if the agency doesn’t respond.
Right Stuff spews:
“You’d think that with all this focus on lead poisoning, the Times might have mentioned the results of Darcy Burner’s free lead tests? (Hmm. I bet if Rep. Dave Reichert had conducted this innovative public service he would have warranted a headline and a congratulatory editorial touting his bipartisanship.)”
I almost spit out my coffee I laughed so hard……
the reason the Times or anyone else doesn’t mention the President of the Ames Lake HOA is becuase no one cares what she does. Hmmm Dave Reichert warrants mention and headlines becuase.. well let’s see…Oh Yeah! He’s a Congressman! He has actually won elections…..
Thanks for the laugh this morning.
Hey Michael… eat me. I never implied McDermott secured the funding.
If you actually read my post on McDermott you might understand my thesis that we don’t need or want a Congress filled with any one type of rep. McDermott plays his particular role well, and the region doesn’t suffer because of it. This funding is a case in point.
Of course efficiency is subjective to liberals, just like proficiency and success. Which is why they are never measured as successful (see WASL) or proficient (again see WASL) or efficient (See any audit done by Sontag)
Right Stuff @ 8,
“the reason the Times or anyone else doesn’t mention the President of the Ames Lake HOA is becuase no one cares what she does. Hmmm Dave Reichert warrants mention and headlines becuase.. well let’s see…Oh Yeah! He’s a Congressman! He has actually won elections…..”
Even so…it was Darcy Burner who held local events for testing toys for toxic substances…not Rep. Reichert. And it was Darcy Burner’s events that tested 479 items and found that about 10% of them contained lead…not Rep. Reichert.
The newspapers may have a story on the bus tunnel being closed but they are doing any reporting on it. First: the tunnel is not closed because of a computer glitch. The tunnel is closed because of a poorly designed computer system. Point: there is no redundancy to the system. Second they did upgrades, the upgrades failed, there was no plans to back out of the upgrades. Third they had to order replacement parts from a contractor who is taking days to get the parts, get a contract with a supplier who has parts on hand. Forth they claim that everything in the tunnel is working but they can not run it by computer, well then run it the old fashion way, by hand and fix the computers later. This outage is costing people time and money. I will not do any holiday shopping downtown because of this. Other people are also going else where to shop. It is taking 20 to 30 minutes longer for a bus to get through downtown. And these computer system are over 10 years old. (I know sound transit claims they are new, but last month during the daylight saving time change the clocks in the tunnel all read the wrong time. For the last 15-20 years all of the computer systems where programmed to change time on there own, therefor these system need to be older than that). All of these problems are cause because top management does not know what they are doing and they do not care if the job gets done right. God I hope that some one gets fired, or maybe a politician loses an election over this. Then maybe the trains will run on time and somebody will start handing out tickets to the free loaders that ride the trains with out paying.
Don Joe spews:
Not all that long ago, I asked our wingnut friends to enumerate precisely which set of skills Darcy would need as a Congressional Representative that she wouldn’t have demonstrated as a GPM in Microsoft’s .NET group. It helps to remember their complete failure to provide a coherent response to that question whenever our wingnut friends selectively cite only a portion of her resumé.
Sort of like the ‘efficiency’ of markets is subjective to the free-market mavens. All you trolls who have been echoing Greenspan (that Ayn Rand toady) about how it is against a company’s interests to sell faulty, defective, or toxic products really need to go back to school, where everyone was required to read Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle. Unregulated markets are not efficient, unless of course by efficient you mean not ‘getting safe products that people actually need to consumers’ but ‘screwing everybody every which way until we get caught.’
Just like Greenspan was so in favor of not regulating the mortgage industry, and now all the money Bernanke can possibly drop from helicopters won’t help.
Global financial meltdown, anyone? There’s market efficiency for ya.
Roger Rabbit spews:
I wondered what Republicans have been inhaling. Now I know …
Don Joe spews:
The proponents of free markets all too often neglect to mention, or remember, that the efficiency of free markets is predicated on things like “perfect information”. They make the mistake of assuming that the model is the reality.
CROSS POST FR
Clinton says wife a ‘world-class genius’ – Yahoo! News: “WOLFEBORO, N.H. – Former President Clinton says his wife is a ‘world-class genius’ when it comes to improving the lives of others.
Clinton stuck mostly to familiar themes in two hour-long appearances Thursday, describing at length what he views as the nation’s biggest challenges. Nearly 15 minutes into his first speech, he added almost as an afterthought that ‘everything I’m saying here is my wife’s position, not just mine.’
It was his third trip to New Hampshire in little more than a month, and the visit came the day before Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton was to return to the Granite State for two days of campaigning.
Calling the ability to help others the most important quality in a president, Clinton first compared the successes of his administration in creating jobs and other areas to the failures of the Bush administration before finally turning the focus to his wife, a New York senator.
‘The reason she ought to be president, over and above her vision and her plans is that she has proven in every position she has ever had in life, whether it was in elected office or not, that she is a world-class genius in making positive changes in other people’s lives,’ he said.
Change vs. experience has been a theme of the Democratic presidential race, and”
Here is the beginning of my post. And here is the rest of it.
This is so sad. When Bill ran the first time, he/they tried to package HRC this way .. presenting her as the #1 candidate for the Supreme Court etc. In fact HRC may or may not be super bright but her career until Bill became Prexy was that of an Hiswife. She was a rainmaker, a deal broker with connections to the Gov.
I do NOT begrudge her this role. I believe in greece, graft and grismisch. If you do not lube the machine it will break down! Nor has anything I have seen smelled even faintly rotten about her time in that role and, as her Hubby says, she di use the position to make rain for the family group she worked with. Marian Wright Edelman is a very impressive leader and her association with HRC is a plus. STILL equating the rainmaker with a brilliant attorney is about as far out as her claiming BO is a muslim because he went to a “secular madrasah.”
I did try to follow through and look into HRC’s supposed legal talents. In fact the bulk of her work in the private domain was at best as a deal maker. She did not, as far as I can see, play a significant role in courtroom law or in legal reform. She might make a fine Justice of the Supreme Court but I sincerely doubt the ABA considered Ms. C as being on its short list.
The point is now Bill and Hill are back at painting themselves as superheroes. Vote for her and he will be back ..this time for free!!!!!!!!! Vote for her and one gets all of HIS connections and all of his baggage too I suppose. Bill and co. are trying to paint Mr. Obama with the faint bush of inexperience. Does rainmaker count as experience for HRC? If not she has her Senate record to hold up vs. his Senate record and record in Illinois as a senator and civil rights worker. Oh yeh, one of them was editor of the Harvard Law Review!
So some advice in the off chance Bill or Hill read SJ. Lay of the genous juice. I would be more impressed with Hillary’s record without this hype.
I guess you’ve got a point there.
Of course you’re setting the bar pretty low with, “and the region doesn’t suffer because of it.” as your standard.
I wonder what CD Carry Moon lives in?
And telling a fellow progressive who’s been working on progressive issues in the region for 20 years probably isn’t that grand of an idea either.
Should read telling off.
PuddyBud Is A Dumbass spews:
Thank God for today’s story on diacetyl.
This issue arose a while back and the Bush goons running the FDA and the various consumer protection outfits are stooges. My scorching letter went unanswered, as I pritnear knew it would.
The P-I paid for the research.
Read it again.
randian greenspan spews:
“(P)erfect information …” Predicated by whom? No economist I’ve talked to in this imperfect world ‘predicates’ anything from perfect information. That’s a left-wingnut straw dog that won’t bark, hunt, or vote.
Even before Steiglitz copped a Prize for telling us what we knew, that information is asymmetric, we knew that information is asymmetric, that all information is not created equal. So what? Central planners have the bad, imperfect information of markets without the market’s feedback loops.
(Sinclaire’s Jungle was fiction. 1906 fiction. What’s your point? And wasn’t the predatory subprime lending of markets-gone-wild a response to regulatory and political pressure to fix the problem of racist red-lining?)
Richard Pope spews:
The Port of Seattle happens to be the one major state or local government entity in the area that is controlled by REPUBLICANS. Four out of five commissioners on the outgoing board were either admitted REPUBLICANS or endorsed by the King County REPUBLICAN Party and prominent REPUBLICANS. And the same can be said about four out of five commissioners that will be sitting on the port commissioner after the first of the year.
I say consolidate the Port of Seattle into King County government — especially since they have the same boundaries and taxing area. Let King County use the tax revenues currently received by the Port of Seattle for any lawful government purpose. Put the port under solid Democratic control, and we won’t see such huge waste of tax money and subsidy of big business. Maybe some of the $80 million (next year’s tax bite) of property taxes can be spent for human needs, not for subsidy of shipping interests.
Prevent Popcorn Lung spews:
The federal response to the diacetyl exposures has been beyond rational comprehension. Yes, NIOSH has tried but with a flat line budget and rising costs.. not much. OSHA has its head in the sand…FDA out to lunch. Time to start reconsidering the federal exemption for tort litigation.
Moreover, with future and current media consolidation there will be fewer outlets for important investigative journalism, currently the only people with a public advocacy role to hold diacetyl manufacturers and federal regulators accountable.
A lot of computer systems had trouble dealing with daylight time this year because of our government’s having screwed with the schedule for when it starts and ends.
ArtFart@26: So did a lot of people.