There’s nothing wrong in Carson City. Nothing at all.
March 29, 2002
I admit I was feeling a bit of professional jealousy.
Here I am, the editor of a newspaper read by approximately 40,000 people every day, but apparently coming up short of expectations.
How else to explain the need by Carson City supervisors to spend an extra $10,000 of taxpayer money — which will not be available to firefighters or dispatchers or librarians — to get out “public information” on what they’re doing over at City Hall.
Apparently, we’re missing the boat down here at the Nevada Appeal. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve been told that, so maybe I’m a little sensitive to criticism.
But the best way to improve, I figure, is to check out the competition. No, not the Reno Gazette-Journal, which also covers news in Carson City and also apparently has come up woefully short. After all, the newspapers merely print whatever we want.
No, I wanted to check out the work of the city’s public information team, the folks in the funny hats who persuaded city fathers and mothers they needed a bigger budget in a year when others are going without.
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So I headed down to City Hall to pick up my copy of “Seasons of Change 2000/2001,” the Carson City annual report. I hadn’t seen the publication, but it was drawing rave reviews from city supervisors.
And I could see why right from the cover. It’s a 12-page publication on high-quality paper, and the layout by a Minden design firm, Stockdale Creative, is quite attractive. The cover photos of the capitol by well-known Minden photographer Jay Aldrich are also beautiful.
Being a nit-picky editor type, I might have pointed out that the capitol is actually state government, but I didn’t want to seem to harsh right off the bat. (In fact, the report contains 14 photographs of the state capitol and none of City Hall. Nor is there an address for City Hall, although many of us know where to find it. It’s across the street from the capitol.)
Inside the annual report are 10 pages of information about some of Carson City’s accomplishments from summer 2000 to spring 2001.
“There is a place closer to your front door than you could ever imagine, where every season becomes the season of possibility,” reads the introduction. “A place where new, innovative ideas are always encouraged; where citizens speak of community pride and ownership; and where government is a partnership of neighbor helping neighbor.
“That place is Carson City, Nevada.”
Well, I like that. It makes me glad to live here. And since I’m pretty proud of Carson City as well, I’m happy to see a good face put on it.
There are lots of neighbors helping neighbors in Carson City. Sometimes there are neighbors fighting neighbors, and sometimes there are neighbors suing neighbors, and sometimes there are neighbors living next to race tracks who have dust with their barbecues.
Those are just the kind of unsavory goings-on that give daily newspapers a bad name, and I wouldn’t expect to read about them in the city’s annual report.
I did, however, wonder what kind of things I would read in the annual report that I wasn’t getting in the daily newspapers.
There’s a freeway under construction, Page 6.
Nevada Day happens in the last weekend of October, Page 7.
Costco opened, also Page 7.
Lowe’s opened, Page 9.
There’s a Farmer’s Market somewhere in Carson City, Page 5.
A public transit bus began running between Carson and Reno, Page 4.
In all, the report briefly covers 25 events during the year. I could have sworn they were in the Appeal at the time they actually happened, but there might have been some things that didn’t catch my eye.
Like the Shenandoah Detention Basin, a project between the city and Nevada Department of Transportation to improve the storm-drainage system. It was something I hadn’t paid a lot of attention to, although I certainly could have. When I checked, I discovered the Nevada Appeal actually had printed 28 separate stories about storm drainage during the period covered in the city’s annual report.
Unfortunately, several of those stories were about things like the possibility of raising taxes to pay for storm drains, or delays to freeway construction because of the difficulties of designing storm drains. We only print those kinds of articles because we can.
In fact, my review of the city’s annual report couldn’t find fault with much of anything.
Nope, there’s nothing wrong in Carson City’s annual report. Nothing at all.
For example, one of the major accomplishments of the year was the Carson City Aquatic Facility. Few would argue the swimming pools don’t “help insure the ‘quality of life’ so valuable to Carson City,” as the annual report states.
What the report doesn’t note is the project was $300,000 over budget and two years late, although quite a few of the 36 articles in the Nevada Appeal did mention those sordid details.
Yes, sometimes the local newspaper makes some folks in City Hall look bad. We aren’t part of the team. Don’t really intend to be either. That’s not our job.
It is the job of the public information team to make the city look good. Apparently, the better you make the city look, the more money is available for making the city look good.
Next year, maybe the success of the annual report itself can be one of the highlights of all the positive things going on.
I’d suggest a spot there on Page 4, to replace the item that says “Teen Services at the Carson City Library — annual budget of $400.”
Because, to tell you the truth, a $400 budget for teenage literacy in a city that spends $59 million a year looks kind of bad.
Barry Smith is managing editor of the Nevada Appeal.
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