by Marion Marks
The defense mechanism of those of us who stick our head out to participate in public discussion of issues we feel are important is often our most powerful reflex. We hate to have to go on the defense when our opinions, based on fact or merely trying to protect our base, are under attack. The worst blow we feel when insiders, who we expect to be supporters, betray a trust or just seem to take the oxygen out of the room when we least expect it. So it is with some in the media, particularly the Gannett owned Shreveport Times today as they undertake a systematic campaign to quell local dissent regarding the upcoming Bond elections.
Patterns of abuse by the Gannett organization currently are documented in the search-engine repression of articles that do not fit within the accepted realm of the editorial philosophy. One current op-ed, published Saturday, January 24th, by Vernon Hastings can only be read by subscribers who deliberately search for the page in the paper where it appeared. [See an actual Search! & further detailed search] This is not an isolated case, even though the Times staff will scream to the contrary, or it was just “an oversight”. The pattern appears to be based on a clear policy to assign a level of search to certain articles based on where they reside on the “approval scale” of the staff. Certain negative columns get a rating of “0,” which means that, without a subscription and will to search, you will never find nor be able to show non-subscribers a link without copying and pasting the content.
The “Pay-Wall” for subscribers is certainly understandable, as publications must support themselves (unless they are free blog-type publications determined to educate reader). But a community deprived of a dissenting voice becomes subject to the worst form of tyranny. It appears the Gannett voice has sided with the insiders to silence dissenting voices of those who question or attempt to promote an alternate agenda.
I guess this is why I enjoyed the History Channel newest series “Sons of Liberty” that started last night. Sam Adams & John Hancock travel along similar paths yet differing perspectives, yet eventually they were driven together. The modern Sam Adams brewery should reap great rewards as a sponsor! Be that as it may, Caddo and Louisiana haven’t risen to the level capable of the anger, but them facts of abuse are driving some citizens to ask tougher questions as the clock ticks toward the elections.
The next two months promise to be interesting as pocket-book issues gather more discussion and we continue to see who pushes which buttons in the media. I can only suggest that readers ask more thought-provoking questions and demand truth rather than a party line. For those interested, here is the article that you couldn’t find in a search at the time this was published:
Why board’s bond issue is pointless
by Vernon Hastings
Because the real problem is not being addressed. Two incidents explain this. Some months ago there was a problem with the payroll program at the Caddo Parish schools. Checks were late, inaccurate and other problems.
When asked why the payroll would not be outsourced to a professional firm, the supervisor said words to this effect: “I would have had to let 40 people go; I just couldn’t do that in this economy.”
Recently, one of the local television stations ran a piece on a Caddo high school which was running a trial outsourcing security services in the school. Bossier Parish uses the firm for all its schools. The final line of the piece was school officials saying “this outsourcing would mean the layoff of three people, if they can’t find something else for them to do.” Here, now is the heart of the problem. The school system in Caddo Parish has morphed into an employment system. The entrenched at all levels work to assure each other will keep their job. The eye of the enterprise is no longer on the children but the system.
New buildings, moving the deck chairs around will not change the outcome. I appreciate the efforts of those who have put their time, money and energies in this proposal. I have the deep down fear that some interests hope only to secure this source of funding for the future. Taxes, once expired are harder to approve than a renewal and they know it.
The Caddo Parish school system does not deserve any more of our money.
Close failing and under-utilized buildings. Slice out the middle managers in all departments, put money in the classroom starting with the teachers. Establish an academy to train and professionalize the position of principal.
Establish a program of parental responsibility. Finally, outsource all possible positions. I know, I know … it will never happen. Welcome to Bossier!
Vernon Hastings Jr. lives in Shreveport.