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Is Signal Hill another Bell?

Discussion in 'Sports and News' started by poindexter, Feb 27, 2011.

  1. poindexter

    poindexter Well-Known Member

    Signal Hill is a VERY small city (pop 11,000) near Long Beach, CA. The City attorney for Signal Hill is appointed and earns AT LEAST $470k.

    This tiny little newspaper, the Beachcomber, wanted to find out what the city was paying its top officials.

    The city pays the attorney a standard salary. But the Beachcomber kept digging. The city redevelopment agency pays the attorney big bucks.

    Note the end of the article:
    Editor's Note: Signal Hill Vice Mayor Larry Forester called the Beachcomber publisher the morning of Feb. 25 and threated to sue the paper over this article. In response, Beachcomber Publisher Jay Beeler said, "Based on Mr. Forester's comment it is apparent that we have struck oil, meaning that we should dig deeper. The city attorney has a no-bid contract; no other attorney offices are allowed to bid for these services at a competitive rate. Our story has brought to light excessive expenditures for legal services in Signal Hill; its citizens would be better served by a city attorney who is on salary but able to hire outside assistance as needed. Perhaps even more distressing is that we've learned that the Signal-Tribune newspaper is very cozy with City Hall insiders and would not run advertising for council candidate Simmons unless certain links were removed from his website. It is not a newspaper's role to do that in a political campaign and it smells like corruption to me. Yes, the fish always stinks from the head down!"

  2. TigerVols

    TigerVols Well-Known Member

    FWIW, Signal Hill, IIRC, is the town at the center of the opening scenes of There Will Be Blood...it was among the first places oil was pumped in California.
  3. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    Stories like that are why an army of 23-year-old "citizen journalists" blogging about Afghanistan and health care reform can't hold a candle to what traditional, local journalism does for its citizens, regardless of how hard they think they are sticking it to the "MSM."
  4. TheSportsPredictor

    TheSportsPredictor Well-Known Member

    Clearly it's public service unions causing the state budget problems around this country. This is just another example.
  5. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    It's an easy narrative and officials know it's an easy narrative.

    They also know that local news-gathering operations no longer have the capacity to investigate further. Hence, they get to set the narrative.

    Thank God, though, that all the "citizen bloggers" put the "MSM" in its place earlier this decade. I recall a lot of snark and celebration about that, including but no limited to dozens of celebratory comments after any story about newsroom layoffs.

    Americans get the leaders they deserve.
  6. Shaggy

    Shaggy Guest

    I have several thoughts on this story

    1. Well done, good investigative work. Exactly what the citizens need and deserve.

    2. It's really, really funny to me that a story that exposes the city attorney as being massively overpaid gets a response from the city threatening a lawsuit. I wonder who gave the city that advice...their attorney, maybe?

    3. I think the headline is a little bit of hyperbole. The city of Bell is insulted by it, because no matter what the city attorney at Signal Hill makes, it's about 1/100th of the scandal Bell is.

    4.The publisher's statement is really weird.

    5. The Carol Churchill quotes are great. I would've thrown one higher up in the story.

    6. Public records requests are only as good as the legal muscle you have behind them. If Signal Hill continues to ignore the second compensation request, will the Beachcomber sue? Or will the L.A. Times start on the story and sue? If the answer is no, then Signal Hill is simply calling their bluff and will get away with it.

    7. I love seeing political corruption be uncovered by newspapers. Love it. Every time.
  7. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    One thing about public records requests is they aren't always as black-and-white as people think they are. If you start to dig into state codes and agency administrative codes, what is available as a public record is often couched in very squishy language that gives a state at least a fighting chance for plausible deniability. At that point, you've got to take it to the courts, and who has that kind of time and money?
  8. SoCalDude

    SoCalDude Active Member

    I hope this reporter doesn't wind up in the Signal Hill jail. They'll find him hanging from the rafters.
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