In The Morning Call, a subtle bias from an increasing number of reporters is to look down on the unwashed masses. Rarely will the observations of a mere citizen be reported. When they are, it's often done in a disparaging way.
Doubt me? Let's take a look at a recent posting at Valley 610, where the regulars who speak during Bethlehem's courtesy of the floor are disparaged with the title "Council Karaoke." That happens to be the exact term condescendingly used by Bethlehem officials to refer to their City Council audience. The implication is that these people are pale imitations of the gods sitting behind the dais.
Bob Pfenning is one of the Bethlehem regulars featured. He's also a Northampton County fixture. I know no person with a better understanding of the ins and outs of our goofy gaming laws. In fact, when Mike Dowd was Council Prez, Pfenning was appointed to a committee that ended up recommending the Gaming Authority now in place. Even Angle listens to Pfenning. Even McClure.
Pfenning addressed Bethlehem City Council last week with some legitimate concerns about the introduction of alcohol into the Christmas City's First Night festivities, asking whether "we must have beer and booze to appreciate the arts." For stating his opinion, he is depicted singing the Beer Barrel Polka.
For a different attitude, there's the gritty, in-your-face, Express Times. That daily recently featured Becky Butz, a Nazareth regular, in its Five Questions feature, using words like "diligent" to describe her. Officials liked it so much they ran off a copy and handed it out to the public with their "Nazareth Musings" before Thursday night's workshop.
Becky, a pleasant but opinionated woman, complained about that, too, wondering why only the negative comments were passed out and not the entire piece.
This little borough council assured her there was no malicious intent. They also listened to four other regulars, including Louise Diaz. She's concerned about people who ignore red lights and speed through the Nazareth Circle without yielding to pedestrians. "It's not safe for kids crossing the streets," she laments. Council member Mike Kopach, sitting in front of a big picture of Mario Andretti and a race car, assured her it must be those damn out-of-towners, i.e. people who've lived in Nazareth for les than fifty years. Auslanders. Mayor Fred Daugherty, agreeing that "traffic is a problem," wants their license plate numbers.
Actually, we all drive like maniacs in Nazareth, and I'm pretty sure I'm the person who nearly flattened Ms. Diaz in the Circle when I was texting and reading the newspaper while swilling a Mocha Java. Sorry. We all think we're just like Mario.
But the point is that they listened. They learned the hard way. In 2007, when borough officials cooked up a secret scheme to ruin a beautiful baseball field for a goofy government center expansion, there was nearly a revolution. One of the persons who dragged them into the sunshine, was Becky Butz.
"In a democracy, the highest office is the office of citizen." So says Felix Frankfurter. Nazareth Borough Council finally gets that. So does The Express Times, which was at last night's meeting. The Morning Call was absent.