Monday, July 14, 2008

A Late Entry Into the News-Press Fiction Writing Contest?

Comedian Wayne Brady has had a show running in Vegas the last couple of years called, "Making It Up." (Actually, the second word in the title is missing the first two letters, but I've long considered this a PG-13 rated blog.)

Anyway, "Making It Up" could well be the new name of Travis Armstrong's News-Press op-ed page column.

On Saturday, under the headline, "Is Marty Blum's resignation on the way?" Armstrong asserted,"Mrs. Blum, a political supporter has divulged, has been quietly raising the matter of her resignation with friends and family because of the outrage over her job performance. The anger toward Mrs. Blum clearly has taken a toll on her, according to sources."

A couple of paragraphs later Armstrong states: "There's speculation Mrs. Blum has been discussing a possible resignation with close associates, family and friends, not because she really wants to resign – but because she hopes to get an outpouring of moral support urging her to stick around to prop up her ego."

"Speculation?" In other words, he's just guessing. Anyone can speculate about anything. It doesn't mean it's so. But that first passage I referenced was clearly represented as fact, not speculation.

So who is this "political supporter" he cites as the source of the information? And what is the justification for not naming him or her?

We are not told.

And did Armstrong get in touch with Blum to ask her whether or not she was considering stepping down, as his "source" claimed? The answer is no.

And if he had, what would have been her response?

Here is the one she sent me, as well as several other media outlets, on Saturday. It was also sent to all city employees.

The voters gave me four more years when I was reelected in 2005. I want all of you to know that I have never considered resigning or stepping down. I love this job. It has been a privilege and an honor to serve all of you and the people of this great city. I will have served twenty years when I am done with this term, starting with the Planning Commission, then the Council, and now Mayor. I have learned, grown, and enjoyed every moment.

Today the News Press reported that I am planning to step down, to resign. Travis Armstrong says that I have "been discussing a possible resignation with close associates, family and friends." He says I will "cite health concerns as the reason for stepping down."

All of this is a blatant falsehood. My health has never been better. No sign of any return of the breast cancer I had four years ago. I work out at the gym five to six days a week. My weight is where I want it. And my energy is terrific.

I challenge him to produce a person I have discussed this with. He can't because there isn't any. You would think that if anyone had heard about my impending resignation, it would have been my husband Joe. He is as surprised as I am about today's story. A complete fabrication.

So have a great day serving the good residents of this City. I hope these horrible falsehoods do not affect you in your jobs in any way. I think you all do a great job.

This is the third column since July 2nd that Armstrong has written about Blum. The July 9th column ran under the headline, "A chorus of voices calling for Blum to resign."

A chorus? Sounds more like a duo, or a trio to me at most. In any event, no matter how small the ensemble really is, Armstrong appears to be the featured soloist.

You hear that crumbling sound? It’s the News-Press credibility gap getting even wider.

* * *

Count Dr. Laura as being among those who felt that going forward with the July 4th fireworks display was the right decision.

* * *

The News-Press and the union were back at the bargaining table last week.

In an effort to ratchet up the pressure on the News-Press to bargain in good faith, the union has begun asking businesses to stop advertising in the paper, and union representatives have started passing out leaflets in front of businesses such as Vons in La Cumbre Plaza and Chuck's Steakhouse on upper State Street, asking customers to boycott the News-Press.

The News-Press actually ran an article on the boycott on Saturday under associate editor Scott Steepleton's byline.

* * *

A letter to the editor that appeared in yesterday's News-Press started out with the following line:

"Santa Barbara, we have a problem. We are experiencing a Caligula situation. The mayor is dancing while the hills are burning."

Caligula? Ahem, I think that was Nero who "fiddled while Rome burned."

Yes, it's a sad day indeed when News-Press letter writers can't keep their Roman emperors straight.