Staying transparent better in the end

Back when I was a kid and the earth was cooling, major entertainment was to go to the movies.

At that time before the feature film there was the RKO newsreel. World events were highlighted on the screen and kids of all ages watched with rapt attention. I remember one of the stories then was the earth actually WAS cooling.

The Arctic was reported to be expanding and the oceans were expected to ebb to the point that New York City would no longer be a major port. I remember going home to tell my Dad who advised me not to worry about it.

The reel said that “scientists from around the world” were worried. Today, of course, we are concerned about “global warming.” It turned out some of the main sources for this dramatic new change were scientists at a British university who, as it turned out, fudged their data that invalidated the results of their exhaustive studies. Despite that, we still are worrying and talking about it.

When we watch a newsreel or read a newspaper with “unnamed sources,” we need to question the information further. Wire services and major news organizations often seem to use these references.

Have you ever read a book or a scholarly paper which is loaded with footnotes? The purpose of the footnote is to verify the veracity of the information in the text. The same is true of scientific discovery, where it is incumbent on the scientist to detail his/her methodology so that others may replicate the experiment to see that the new knowledge is true.

When a reporter uses an unnamed source, we just have to assume that the information purported to be true, actually is correct. The news reported in this way is just rumor because there is no way to corroborate the story.

This type of source is often unnamed because the reporter says they weren’t authorized to speak for their organization. In other words, the source is in violation of the rules of their employer. My question is “if they cheated on the employer’s rules, what’s the general level of their moral turpitude?” We can’t tell if they are telling us the truth. We only know for certain they are cheating under the rules. Cheating isn’t so far from lying, so are the reporters getting the straight truth? It all seems sort of shabby to me.

Locally, the stories are reported differently with actual named sources and our economic news is pretty darn good these days. Two new hotels are announced within Alpena and the Mejier store is going up fast in Alpena Township. For a community whose growth stopped about 1975, this is fabulous news.

Rural Utility Services is reported ready to lend millions of dollars to build a road between the back of Home Depot/Walmart and Burkholder Drive to facilitate more township growth and facilitate better traffic flow in this burgeoning area.

The only thing slowing down the hotels is that both need zoning changes. I find the city’s zoning ordinances are so onerous that virtually no new building can just be put up. This does not happen as often in the township. Maybe, just maybe, it’s time for a good review of Alpena’s zoning regulations to encourage growth in our community.

My point isn’t that zoning is a bad thing, but, rather, that the very tight ordinances in Alpena, under which both hotels have had to seek time consuming variances, delay construction and, thereby, delay the creation of construction jobs. It’s better to have employment right now than to have the promise of a job at a future time. Just saying, you know.

In so far as RUS reportedly being ready to lend, and the property owners being hesitant to borrow right now, the solution seems very straight-forward to me. The real question for the new road is the calculation by the property owners as to whether the increase in the value of their property is greater or lesser over the years than the cost of the road. The township has to assess what the value is to having a sort of bypass around a high traffic area. Some part of the proposed construction should be paid by those who benefit directly, but there is room for governmental participation if this plan is seen by the public to increase traffic flow and safety.

Creating a partnership between the property owners and public means that everyone has some skin in the game, and would increase the chance for this road to become a reality.