This election story is based on a very important issue for local voters, the economy and the City budget. The reporter provides adequate space for both Second Ward City candidates to respond. Do the candidates actually respond to the questions put forth by the reporter? Do you as a voter think that the responses provide you with adequate information to make an informed vote? Could the reporter have pursued other angles or questioning?
One question viewers could ask themselves about this story has to do with verification or investigation of claims made by candidates. Candidate Bliss make comments about State Revenue Sharing, yet no contextual information on Revenue Sharing is provided. Second, there is no verification or investigation made of the main claim from candidate Johnston, where she refers to a Milwaukee city government economic plan. Again, the reporter doesnt verify the claim, nor provide information about what this market-based philosophy would mean.
WOOD TV 8 News reader – Just two weeks from now when Grand Rapids voters head to the polls, they’ll elect a new commissioner in the city’s Second
Ward. That new commissioner will face some major challenges, from dealing with the effects of a shrinking budget to possibly deciding whether your taxes should increase.
Reporter – City budgets all over West Michigan are suffering, and Grand Rapids is no different. There have been some $12 million in cuts this year alone. Over 300 jobs have been eliminated, and city officials don ‘t expect things to get any better. So far, public safety, like the city’s police and fire forces, and quality of life programs like pools and other leisure services, have taken the brunt of the cuts. Attention will soon turn to next year’s budget. Our question to the candidates how do they plan to address budget problems. We start with Second Ward candidate Shaula Johnston.
Candidate Johnston – I think that one of the things we need to look at is bringing in a market based philosophy to city government.
Reporter – Johnston studied Milwaukee, a city that’s adopted that market based philosophy. Her research found success when the city bureaucracy began treating each department like a business.
Candidate Johnston – Say you have an in-house contract for printing. You bid it out, and the low bid gets the job. And if that’s giving it out, if that’s outsourcing, that’s fine.
Johnston says the approach not only cuts costs for a city, it also improves customer service. In this case, the customer being the taxpayer. The other challenger in the Second Ward is Rosalynn Bliss.
Candidate Bliss – I really don’t think there is any one solution that is going to take care of the budget solution.
Bliss says Lansing holds the key to part of the budget solution. In recent years, legislators have cut millions in revenue sharing tax dollars collected by the state and shared with local communities. Despite the efforts of local officials, including rallies at the capital to preserve and regain those funds, Bliss says she’ll rally residents to send a message to Lansing.
Candidate Bliss – There’s power in numbers, and it has to come not only from representatives. It has to come from people. We have to get people informed and educated about the issue, and they also have to contact legislators. It’s one thing to get a call from a lobbyist. It has a much greater impact when it’s coming from a person that voted you into office.
Reporter – Despite a number of job eliminations and consolidations at the department head level, both candidates say the next round of job cuts should come from upper level management. Bliss and Johnston also favor public-private partnerships to reopen city pools and restore other parks and recreation programs. Voters will decide who has a better plan on November 8.
Total Time: 2 minutes and 40 seconds