Sunday, October 01, 2006

Why $38,000 is bigger than $1,600...

Flash back to a month ago: Reed supporters criticize the Chavez camp for complaining about unfair media coverage. The media doesn't have a bias, they say. The unflattering coverage, the negative editorials, the selective discussion of pertinent issues were nothing to complain about - they were Cindy's fault not the consequence of the Mercury News's slant.

Flash back to this past week: After being unambiguously condemned by all major media for the Chuck E. Cheapskate scandal, Reed supporters criticize the Mercury News for unfairly focusing on his reimbursement practices. Some choice quotes from Chuck Reed's internet headquarters, SJI are illustrative:

"how do these hypocrites answer charges of spending public money to promote
themself or their office. Are they going to reimburse the taxpayers

"I am waiting for all the good government Reed bashers to express their
outrage over Chavez and her supporters misuse of public funds. "

"if you want to condemn him, condemn Cindy and the rest of the council as
well. They all did it, doesn’t make it right, but it does mean that you can’t
single one person out for it."

It seems that the tables have turned for the Reedites who now believe that the Merc is out to get their candidate.

Today, their cries were answered, when the Merc printed this article making it sound as if Chuck's reimbursement practices were par for the course on the SJ City Council. Barry Whitt lays out the thesis of the article quite simply in the second paragraph:
"And in that way, they (other local SJ politicians) are no
different from San Jose councilman and mayoral candidate Chuck Reed, whose
public spending habits spurred heavy criticism last week."

Whitt proceeds to downplay Reed's errors in judgment by analogizing his conduct to other members of the Council, including Cindy Chavez. Specifically, Nora Campos, Madison Nguyen, and Dave Cortese were reimbursed $150 for Cinco de Mayo ads they purchased. Campos was reimbursed a whooping $1,200 for ads last year!

(By the way, does that mean that Campos was reimbursed $1,350 in total? No - look at how the article is written. It misleads the reader by listing her total reimbursed dollars and then listing a specific reimbursement suggesting the examples were cumulative and not duplicative.)

But wait a second - Cindy must be the grandmama of all ethical turpitude! According to the article, she was reimbursed for SIXTEEN HUNDREED DOLLARS! Wow. Again the way the story is told reveals Mr. Whitt's bias. Not once was there a specific reference to any dollar amounts of Chuck's reimbursements. So readers are meant to walk away thinking that both candidates have unclean hands.

Shame on you, Whitt.

Whether your slanted article was intentional or not, you fail miserably in addressing this controversy with integrity or accuracy. Yes, you are right that it would be unfair to address Reed's reimbursement scandal without examining whether other public officials have done the same thing. But parroting the Reed campaign's soundbites and pretending that that is objective or newsworthy is pathetic. You know that $38,000 worth of reimbursements is a different level of a scandal than $1,600. You know it and that's why you fail to mention how much Reed has reimbursed. Yet you pretend like they are comparable. Perhaps you think this is "fair". Perhaps you think that you're giving both perspectives an opportunity to be shared. But your job is to step above the soundbites and slogans and provide news. You ignore scale, you ignore proportionality, and in so doing, you reveal your biases.

Reimbursing expenses made in pursuit of promoting oneself above the city is ethically dubious. Shame on Cindy Chavez for including her name, title, and phone number in her ad congratulating Debbie Merrel as the San Jose Unified School District's educator of the year. But this misconduct is not in the same universe as what Mr. Reed has done over the last 4 years. He has usurped public money in order to gain favor with constituencies in anticipation of his run for Mayor. He has systematically abused the public's trust. He has paid for lifetime memberships to organizations that have little to no relation to his role on the City Council. He has handed out $1 bills to children to deliberately make it appear as if his donations were not made from city funds.

That, Mr. Whitt, is why $38,000 is bigger than $1,600...


At 8:10 PM, Anonymous concerned dem said...


I can't believe the paper got away with printing such a stupid story pretending as if Cindy and Chuck were equally guilty. Sheesh!

At 10:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No joke. These Reediphiles are jokers. They think Cindy's dirty - they gotta look in the mirror. Chuck is as dirty as they come. He STOLE our money. End of story. I'm glad my tax dollars went to pictures of Chuck's face on fliers.

At 7:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

They both made the reimbursements!!! How can she look at Chuck and single him out when SHE DID THE EXACT SAME THING!!!

At 6:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You should really take a look at the whole story. Until you've seen the records, you wouldn't know what all the Councilmembers were reimbursed for -- and it was more than $1600. Perhaps you work for Cindy Chavez, then this blog would make a lot more sense. It is just as biased and uninformed as the media.

At 8:27 PM, Anonymous alex m. said...

Anonymous, the records have not been released, If you have any insider knowledge that you've gained from your position in Chuck's campaign office, then please shed some light on your golden boy's moronic move. But since, like most Reed supporters, you know nothing other than what you're spoonfed, I sincerely doubt you can be of much help to anyone here. The fact that you consider this blog like the rest of the media, clearly illustrates your ignorance. Quit your b.s. because there is no way that you're truly so idiotic that you think that other media sources are giving this scandal enough coverage. It's disgusting to think that the media has hijacked this election and managed to destroy your brain as it has.


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