We Canít Keep Meeting Like This
A Week Without TV
The only thing I ever saw that came close to
Objective Journalism was a closed-circuit TV setup that watched
shoplifters in the General Store at Woody Creek, Colorado. I always
admired that machine, but I noticed that nobody paid any attention to it
until one of those known, heavy, out-front shoplifters came into the
ó Hunter S. Thompson,
Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail
The fate of San Francisco is decided in meetings. Ask
the general public to describe what goes on there, and youíll see faces
glaze over. Yawn. But public meetings are the stuff that laws are made of,
the arenas where highly civilized life-and-death battles are fought.
Last week, the city pulled the plug on the Police and
Planning Commission. Yesterday Supervisors Chris Daly and Tom Ammiano
asked that the TV cameras be turned back on, and indeed they might be. But
last week, the proceedings were effectively blacked out. No time slots on
Channel 26. No reruns. No streaming Video on Demand. School Board meetings
are, of course, never televised, only broadcast over KALW (91.7 fm). Itís
a one-time-only deal, with no replays later in the week. Itís a live
performance, or nothing.
The government websites of this proudly hi-tech city
are less than useless for up-to-date information. As of yesterday, the
Planning Commission had posted minutes for meetings up to January 6. The
Police Commission minutes stopped after October 6, 2004, and the Board of
Education had nothing after August 10. (These offices are in good company:
the Office of the Mayor has no postings for the mayorís scheduled
appearances after the week of January 25, 2005, when he was in Davos.)
The blackout means that last week, meeting junkies
were left sucking sadly on their lollipops. For the rest of us, the week
probably progressed pretty much as usual. But if someone happened to
wonder what they missed, even the mainstream papers werenít much help.
Hereís what the cityís newspapers had to say about
the Board of Education meeting on February 8:
On February 10, the Chronicle ran
College-prep teachers upset by threatened loss of extra period,
followed on February 11 by
Burning Man or not, school starts Aug. 29. The Examiner carried
nothing about the meeting itself, but ran
Major cash backing for city's preschools ó Taxpayer funds set to flow into
pre-K education on February 7, the day before.
The papers had less to say about the Police
Commission meeting on February 9:
The Chronicle provided a preview,
Police panel to rule on misconduct case ó 7 officers involved in probe of
2002 Union St. brawl, as well as a follow-up,
Police Commission won't drop charges in fajita-brawl case. The
Examiner was silent.
Thatís all they wrote. There was apparently nothing
newsworthy at all in the Planning Commission meeting.
Thatís no fun!
Imagine what they could have said. Imagine that a
world-famous anthropologist came from Paris to study San Franciscoís
political culture and attended the School Board meeting. Her notes might
read something like this:
continued on Friday.)