About that story on Whitewater’s East Gateway Proposal: What’s Missing?

On Tuesday afternoon, Whitewater’s officials held an informational meeting about a proposed public-works beautification project on the east side of the city. It’s not a new idea; those following politics in town for more than a few years would have heard about earlier discussions along these lines.

On Wednesday, the Daily Union published a thousand-word story about the project, and Whitewater’s news and sports website linked to that story in a hundred-word pointer.

I’ve one question about descriptions of the project:

For all these many words, how is it possible that the estimated, public cost of the project has been omitted?

The omission isn’t just odd, it’s absurd: the fundamental, reasonably inescapable questions about projects include (1) what one plans to do, (2) how one will do it, and (3) what it will cost.

Without knowing the estimated cost of a project, one cannot determine adequately its value to a community when compared against alternative uses for that money.

A proper newspaper could omit this information on only one of two bases: (1) gross negligence in reporting on public policy, or (2) an intentional desire to conceal information. Either someone didn’t even ask, or someone didn’t print the answer he received.

I’ve no idea which explanation applies here, but the result’s astonishingly inadequate either way.

(Even 1950s singer Patti Page knew to ask: How Much is that Doggie in the Window? If she could sing a song asking about the price of a dog, a newspaper should be able to ask and print an answer to a question about how much a municipal project might cost.)

Publications may cover public policy as they wish, but one would hope that they’d make at least a fair effort when doing so.

I’ll write more about the merits of this proposal – on its own and weighed against alternative uses for the money – before Council meets on 7.16.13 to consider the project.

My best guess right now, based on prior municipal projects such as the North Street Bridge, is that this must be a seven-figure project: at least a million dollars, and likely significantly more. I’m entirely comfortable asserting that it’s a multiple of a million dollars, depending on design alternatives.

Look around: our small community is filled many thousands of smart, knowledgeable people.

They deserve better coverage of municipal projects than the newspaper coverage of this proposal.

Here’s a bonus video of Patti Page singing her (fourth!) Number 1 hit. Enjoy.

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9 years ago

it’s a combo of ridiculous and funny
nice devil/details cartoon as an intro too