The MGH Report

Michael G. Haran, Proprietor

KEEPING THE LIGHTS ON

Posted by on Dec 18, 2013


Commentary

Healdsburg Tribune

12/5/2013

After reading Rollie Atkinson’s editorial it got me thinking just how valuable the Tribune is to Healdsburg and I’m sure how the other Sonoma West Publishers’ weekly papers are to their communities.Healdsburg Tribune #1

Rollie did a good job of listing the paper’s features and their benefits. I had never before looked at ads as news but Rollie’s comment, “The butcher’s special at the grocery story is a big weekly headline for us,” caught my eye. The Big John’s Market back page ad is the first thing my wife looks at when the paper arrives at our house. I look at all the ads in the Business Directory to see who is still advertising and who is new to the section and doing what. I like to follow the activities of the business owners that I know.

I enjoy following the Healdsburg High’s sports teams especially the basketball teams. I play basketball on Saturday mornings at the high school gym which is monitored by Wayne Rudy for the Town’s Park and Rec Department. He is a long time junior high and high school basketball coach for both boys and girls and he regularly brings the younger kids to our pick-up games to play against the all-ages that play there. The kids I have gotten to know I follow their high school sports careers in the Tribune. The Saturday mornings are also an on-going mini reunion of sorts as many of the players that have graduated occasionally come back to play.

In an interview with the California Newspaper Publishers Association in 2012 Rollie said, “We have a very low turnover in most of our organization, except for our newsroom. Our wage level is terrible, but we do offer a great learning experience and lots of freedom to explore the craft and trade of writing and journalism. I think we’ve been very lucky to keep finding the level of talent we do.” When asked “What are some of the ways the industry can preserve newspapers in our communities?” he went on to say… cautiously (very cautiously) explore projects or relationships with civic journalists.”

When we moved here about eight years ago, I wrote my first Tribune Letter-to-the-Editor about little Christmas tree that would light up every night in a vineyard. I have since gone on to write commentary that has been published in not only the Tribune but also the Press Democrat and other publications. I have to say that the tribune has helped me, and others, become a commentary writers and “civic journalists.”

Now if you look at what is published every week in the Tribune such as public notices, obituaries, local news, what the town government is up to, event calendars, school-library-museum announcements, local columnists and editorials on local, state and national issues I too am amazed at what a bargain the paper is at 50 cents. I think it is quite easy to justify $1.00 a copy. I feel the real value is closer to $5.00 but unfortunately you wouldn’t sell many papers at that price.

The paper is not just a local resource. When I travel and stay in a new community the first thing I do is buy the local newspaper to get a lay of the land. Even though my stay will be short I can serendipitously immerse myself in local politics, culture and the business community. I’m sure many Healdsburg tourists have found their stay in our town more rewarding by picking up the Trib and reading it with their morning lattes.

This is some of what the Trib means to me. So in this Thanksgiving season we certainly should be thankful for having the Tribune and we have to support the local merchants that support our town newspaper. I’m sure Rollie is not getting rich running his little publishing empire but he is certainly making us the richer for having the Healdsburg Tribune.

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MISSED OPPORTUNITIES

Posted by on Oct 17, 2012

I was happy to see the president hold his own in the second debate although I think he was again unnecessarily polite and I would like to have seen a little more of a political Chicago street fighter in him.

First of all why did the president let Romney rattle off a bunch of four year stats? The recession ended in the summer of 2009. That should be Obama’s floor. All analysis of the economy should start from there including the unemployment rate and why didn’t Obama slam Romney on the deficit.

The reason the deficit is up four trillion dollars is because we are just coming out of a devastating recession that shrank tax revenues and an economy that needed deficit spending to stimulate the economy much of which was stymied by the obstructionist republican congress whose only goal was not to tend to the economy but to get Obama out of office.

Next, with only three week left in the race Obama has to appeal to voter “lowest common denominator.” For example, why wasn’t the fact that consumer debt is the lowest it’s been since the bottom of the recession, consumer confidence is up and inflation is nowhere to be seen brought up?

And why didn’t the President bring up the fact that it is traditionally housing that lead us out of recessions. The reason this recession has been so sever is that the Wall Street derivatives allowed the largest building boom the world has ever seen. Massive over supply cause a massive crash and because almost every financial institution in this country, and many around the world, that were involved crashed too.

Housing is now getting stronger. Builder confidence is up and traffic to new home subdivision is the highest it’s been since the crash. It will be housing that will drop unemployment and start a sustainable recovery. The President should talk up housing and point out its momentum because if Romney wins guess who will take credit for this momentum.

Romney likes to refer to “trickle-down-government” and wants to see a smaller federal government. I kind of like a strong central government that has the power to bailout huge banks and can stabilize a crashing economy.

The President has also got to bring up the fact that the four hundred richest families in this country saw their wealth go up by over four hundred percent in the past ten years while the middle class took it in the shorts by a cool two trillion… as in trillion – in the past four years. What’s happening is that wealth is migrating toward the rich from the middle class. The reason it’s going to take a long time to stabilize the middle-east is because very few middle-eastern countries have a stable middle class. They are either rich or poor which does nothing for economic growth and leads to descent.

It also baffles me why the rich aren’t more proactive in getting the middle class back up and buying things again. Since two thirds of the economy is driven by consumer consumption you would think that it would be in the self-interest of the wealthy, a lot of who’s wealth came from consumer consumption, do more to help make the middle class whole again.

A good analogy is the old joke about the rich guy, the middle class guy and the poor guy who enter a room with only a table and on that table is a plate of 12 cookies. The rich guy takes 11 and tells the middle class guy and the poor guy that each is trying to steal the other guy’s cookie.

Time is fleeting so these points have got to get out either in campaign ads, presidential speeches or in the next debate. Speaking of the next debate the President has to really focus on the lowest common denominators – it works at the local level and, because people are people, it will work nationally. And it just might determine the election.

 

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