Monday, January 17, 2011

Jan. 17 You know it's a bad day when.....

...The Moncton Times and Transcript has three non-stories dominating its front page.

1. "Metro Plans Traffic Future"  Moncton has a traffic problem.  Big news. Now, it's going to get organized to start planning to begin to prepare to do something about it. Wow! Stop the presses.

Even if there were master planners already busily at work, nothing is going to happen. The problem is not roads. The problem is cars. As long as we rely on cars for so much of our transportation, we are going to have traffic problems. Los Angeles has been spending billions for over a lifetime. But traffic jams there are so common and so long that they make Moncton look like,,,welll....like Moncton.

      Here is a greater Moncton which is going to plan for more car traffic (yes, that is what our councillors will do) at a time when the world is alight with flashing signs that the days of the private automobile are numbered. And here is a Moncton that is getting all excited about building a hockey arena and a pro football stadium which will bring thousands more cars into a city that can't handle coffee break traffic.

     Perhaps what the thoughtful editor might do is to assign some reporter who's now wasting time on other non-stories, to do a feature about how other cities have dealt with the problem of the automobile. Hong Kong, for example, uses electric trolley, double-decker cars built in 1905. They're cheap to maintain. They're enironmentally friendly And you can even rent one for a rolling birthday party. (Alas. They still allow cars, too. So they still get traffic jams.)

Other cities use subways. Too expensive? Surely not. Not for a newspaper that has been pushing for projects that would cost far more. And a subway would do more to revive downtown Moncton all day every day than a dozen hockey arenas.

2. "Metro residents have a say in plan for future".  Don't people in most democracies have a say in plans for their future?  Isn't that kind of the whole point of having a democracy? There's no story  here.  The city councillors are going to make another showpiece of pretending they're getting us to participate when most people have no time or adequate place and no training to offer any useful participation. What they're asking us to do is to set policy. But that's what they are supposed to do in an election campaign. So a few more people will go to a city council meeting. Somebody will suggest something must be done. And that will be a front page story about nothing happening.

3. "Moncton has 'all the goods:' Simmons". A man who was once famous for playing a guitar and painting his face comes to Moncton for a weekend, seemingly because this one of the few places in the world willing to pay to hear him give a speech on business. In the little time he had here between sleeping, eating, speaking, and signing autographs, his quick mind took in all about Moncton; and he pronounced, "...it's time for Moncton to stop feeling like second-class citizens."  When you see a line like that on the front page of a city's daily newspaper, you know it's second-class.

The main editorial was the usual toadying job - kissing up to the boss by attacking unions.

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