Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Secrets, sources, and cover ups


Late night clandestine meetings.

Fedoras and trench coats.

That’s what we all got into journalism for, right?

Blowing the lid off of corruption, following in the footsteps of Woodward and Bernstein.
So when I got a tip recently that there may be some odd goings on in our local government, I started digging.

My first stop was City Hall. Well, Town Hall anyway, we don’t really have a “City” hall, and I think the “T” is actually lower case for communities under 12,000.

After filling out my public records request I patiently waited as our civil servants compiled the documents I asked for. The fuel that would burn down this house of corruption we call Chino Valley.

I had asked for a series of e-mails that I was sure would shine a light on a whole mess of dirty little secrets. Secrets that would no doubt result in covert meetings in underground parking garages just like the ones in “All The President’s Men”. I might even get the chance to give my source a cool name.

If I played my cards right, there might even be a car chase.

Then I remembered. We don’t have any parking garages here.

Underground or otherwise.

There might be a story there.

So I finally got the call- my papers were ready. Off to City Ha…I mean Town H…wait…town hall I went.

I was looking forward to stacks and stacks of papers, piled high on my desk. I would put on a shirt and tie just so I could roll up my sleeves and loosen the knot while I read them late into the night.
Instead, in an effort to “Go Green”, I was asked to bring a thumb drive instead.

Since I couldn’t sift through stacks of paper, I figured why put on a tie? And since I wasn’t going to wear a tie, no sense in putting on a nice shirt.

Or socks for that matter.

So off to Cit…town hall I went, in my t-shirt, jeans, and flip flops.

After a few days of reading secret documents I’ve learned a few things:
  1. Most e-mails are pretty boring.
  2. I feel much better  about my own spelling goofs.
  3. All the good stuff was blacked out. I can’t prove it, but I bet ya behind those ominous black bars is the really juicy stuff we all want to read. And why, if it’s BLACKED out is it called REDacted? Shouldn’t it be BLACKacted?
  4. No spam- how do they do it? At least seventy percent of my emails have to do with either growing hair or removing hair, shrinking things or growing things, meeting people or hiding from people, sending money or getting money. These government emails? Not a single piece of spam. Although some may argue that every piece of government e-mail is junk mail, but that’s not for me to say.
  5. And last but not least, it looks like, at least in our town, the local politicos are trying to do a good job. They’re just hard working folk, plugging away for pennies a day, trying to make Chino Valley a better place to live.
Now, don’t get me wrong, there’s still some stuff going on that needs to be looked at, monitored by the press and the public.

For instance, remember Horsie Gate? The big statue debate of 2010 to decide what to build, who would build it, and where will it go?

How about the Great Library Massacre? A simple visit to a construction site…or was it?
And who could forget the Great Chip Seal Caper?

Have no fear, these mysteries, complete with the entire cast of characters, will be discussed at tonight’s Town…yes with a capital T, Council Meeting (and probably every meeting thereafter) that will begin at 7 p.m., 202 N Highway 89 in Chino Valley.

And a message for you elected officials- and I mean you Mr. Mayor (if that’s your real name) – I’m on the case.

And I have a hat and trench coat, so I mean business.


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