Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

The Washington Post's "liberal" editorial page is usually pretty conservative when it comes to local issues

Right: photo by John Seidenberg.

I write about Post coverage pretty frequently as it is relied up as the primary agenda-setting media outlet in the region. 

Sadly, the paper is declining as people stop reading printed newspapers and as firms that advertise continue to consolidate and therefore the number of merchants and businesses wanting to advertise in the local paper shrinks considerably. 

The amount of local news coverage continues to shrink precipitously, yesterday's big investigative report on the DC Office of Tax and Revenue's commercial property tax assessment program notwithstanding.

Anyway, yesterday's paper also had an editorial criticizing the DC Attorney General for looking into the matter of the possible move out of the city by the Corcoran Gallery of Art ("Allow the Corcoran make its own decisions").  It happens that I suggested in a blog entry, "Corcoran thinking of selling landmarked building, moving," that the AG look into this matter, as part of its purview in terms of representing the public's interest in how nonprofit organizations perform their activities in the context of their mission, organizational documents, finances, etc.

It's pretty typical in states like New York and Pennsylvania and California for the AG to get involved in such activities.  In fact, with regard to the Barnes Foundation, both their almost bankruptcy about a decade ago (see the book Art Held Hostage by John Anderson), plus the reaction to the move to Philadelphia (which was opposed in some quarters, e.g.,the group Save the Barnes Stop the Move), the Pennsylvania AG's office was heavily involved.

The biggest failure with local institutions most often happens because they aren't very democratic and participatory, not because they have too much involvement and concern about the public interest.

So when the opportunity to convert the DC AG into an elected position, through a referendum on the ballot, which would give the AG more independence from the executive and another opportunity for democratic input, the Post editorialized against it.  Fortunately, the electorate disagreed...

When the opportunity to rethink how constituent funds are used and appropriated by local councilmembers, instead of recommending a democratic and participatory response, like Participatory budgeting, the Post said get rid of these accounts.

I could probably come up with a bunch more examples.

It's very frustrating. 

Like the joke about the Wall Street Journal being two papers in one, one is about business (and good coverage at that, although it has shrunk too in the face of problems experienced by all print media vehicles) the other is the rock ribbed conservative editorial page, the Post has a bifurcated identity as well.

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