In 2008 I ran for election to the Jordan City Council. Finished sixth out of seven candidates for four seats. So, wanting to be involved somehow, I finagled a seat on what was then called the Parks and Recreation Commission (AKA Park Board). When I showed up for the first meeting, I and one other new member didn’t have name plates at our seats. A month later, still no name plate, but I expected as much, and came prepared with one I’d printed on my home computer.
Some time later the Park Board brought in a young lady to be a liaison to high school students. She was given a seat at the table — but no name plate. Same thing happened to me when I won a seat on the City Council in 2010. I did get cool lapel pin at the first meeting. And to be fair, I got a certificate of election, and a certificate of the oath of office to boot.
Fast forward to 2021. Three new faces on the City Council at the Jan. 4 meeting. They were elected in the first week of November. Two months later, no name plates for them.
We’re not talking about huge amounts of money here. The name plates themselves are no big deal. But they are simple tokens of respect for people who are willing to serve the city. One would think that such a simple lesson would be learned in 18 years, no?
But wait! There’s more!
Every year the Council designates an official newspaper. And every year there’s a debate about it. This year was no exception. The Council, in their wisdom, decided to make the designation of the Jordan Independent temporary — to be reviewed in three months. Someone needs to tell the Council there’s no other newspaper in town. Hey City Council, you got anything better?
Every year, this same “discussion.” Excuse me if I call it “whining.” And what does the Council do to remedy the situation? Do they send out press releases? Nope? Do they submit letters to the editor? Mostly, nope, with a couple of notable exceptions (thank you council member Schuh).
News flash! Whether the Council likes the coverage or not doesn’t matter much. What matters a lot is how the Council uses the JI. Maybe the reason the JI isn’t making the Council happy is because the Council’s not giving the JI anything to work with.
For years I’ve cajoled councilors, three different mayors, two police chiefs, two fire chiefs, and the city administrator to send periodic press releases to the paper. It just about never happens. Other towns send out releases. Not Jordan. Why? I’ve even offered to help people write releases for them. For free. No takers. Counting staff, there are 14 management positions in town. Is one release a year from each too much to ask?
In spite of what City Hall may think, the JI — a small town newspaper — doesn’t exist to pry news out of officials. My bosses always told me, “Don’t bring a problem without a solution.” So, Council and staff, what’s your solution? If you think finding another official newspaper will solve your problem, you’re mistaken. In fact, things would probably get worse. But you know that, right? If you don’t have a solution, you don’t have a problem. What you have is a fact of life.
The Jordan Independent is a communications tool. Like any tool, you have to use it to make it work. (And no. Nobody from the JI was involved in writing this commentary.)
The Quote: “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” -George Santayana