Wednesday, April 08, 2009

City Employees Still In News-Press Cross-Hairs

If yesterday's editorial in the News-Press is to be believed, employees of the City of Santa Barbara's Parks and Recreation Department are snatching money out of the hands of children and lining their own pockets with it.

Running under the headline, "Salaries, perks at Parks & Recreation rob the city's kids," Tuesday's editorial listed the names and salaries of 28 City Parks and Recreation employees who make more than $60,000 per year.

It's a follow-up to last Wednesday's editorial that listed the names and salaries of City employees who make over $90,000 per year.

This latest editorial claims, "The Parks and Recreation Department has been on a downward slide over the past years. Director Nancy Rapp or her associates have gone before the public to say classes and other programs may have to be pared back. The city's children will suffer."

If you're guessing that Parks & Rec employees didn't appreciate having their business put into the street by an editorial which told their neighbors how much they make, you guessed right.

By 9:30 or so Tuesday morning, Parks and Recreation director Nancy Rapp had sent out an e-mail to employees in the department.

In today's NewsPress, (editorial writer) Travis Armstrong has characterized our department as "in decline" with "overpaid" staff. Each of us is listed by name with our salary. To a person, we are hard working, extremely dedicated to what we do, to the people we work with, and to the community we serve. To be a lance thrown in the political battle is unfair, and I am sorry that you have been drawn into this . . . Travis Armstrong is just one man with a pen, who happens to have access to a newspaper. He does not represent the voice of the people.

In some ways this vendetta against city employees (and I don't think it's hyperbole to call it a "vendetta") is puzzling. I guess News-Press owner Wendy McCaw won't be happy until every city employee finds him or herself in the same position her newspaper is in; barely able to break even.

Why is it that someone as obscenely wealthy as McCaw begrudges what a handful of middle-class workers are making?

Public employees are easy to pick on and are not well-situated to respond to attacks. In other words, for a bully like McCaw, they're an easy target.

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While the Daily Sound covered council member Helene Schneider's formal announcement of her candidacy for Mayor of Santa Barbara with a front-page story, the News-Press didn't mention it, anywhere.

Zip, nada. zilch, as far as I can tell.

I guess Schneider doesn't make enough money to have her name printed in the paper this week.

The News-Press gave plenty of coverage to the announcement of the other front-runner in the race, Iya Falcone. So why not Schneider?

If the News-Press wants to skewer Schneider in its opinion pages that's certainly its right. But when she makes legitimate news, as this announcement was, don't pretend as if she doesn't exist.

When people ask me, "what is it I have against the News-Press," my answer is, "it's stuff like this."

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And finally, don't you feel better knowing that Barry Cappello is investigating the cause of the Tea Fire?
© 2009 by Craig Smith and