Opinion » Commentaries

They love us, sometimes, but not always

The public reflects on 25 years of hijinks and misfires

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Dave the Pave reflects

During my 16-year career as an elected official, my feelings about New Times varied from affection to conflict—almost a love/hate relationship. Often something the Shredder wrote would set me off, leading me to “right the distortion” about a city action, my dated tie when I met with Gov. Arnold, or criticism of my ski trip while city staff handled Mardi Gras problems. I recall my need to clarify my position regarding the small parking lot being developed for the Senior Center adjacent to Mitchell Park. The parking lot fits in so naturally and provides such a great service for the seniors, I wonder what the entire flap was about. Looking back over the years, the differences with New Times didn’t amount to much, didn’t change anything really important, but did provide a little entertainment for readers.

All public figures are subjects of cartoons, and I certainly was included in my share. Those by Jerry James were particularly entertaining, and I laughed along with everyone else. My favorite was “Dave the Pave” on a steamroller.

The New Times Candidate Survey was well handled, and candidates were given fair treatment with our responses. You can’t ask for more than that.

A most pleasant surprise was to be voted by New Times readers “Best Elected Official” in 2007, 2008, 2009 (runner up), and 2010. I have those framed awards proudly displayed in my den along with many public recognition documents, which range from presidential letters t formal resolutions.

I recall suggesting some years ago to New Times Managing Editor Patrick Howe that New Times could provide a great service to the community were it to include in-depth reporting and analysis on community issues. I believe New Times has made much progress in meeting that service, hiring full-time reporters who attend council meetings to pick up details and implications of council actions. Many times as mayor I recognized Robert McDonald diligently taking notes at the end of a long council meeting when all other members of the public had gone home.

I was so pleased with the detailed New Times article Robert prepared at the time of my retirement last fall. It was sensitively done and accurately projected my aspirations, successes, and failures over more than 50 years of city service.

Every city needs an alternative publication like New Times to poke fun at public officials, allowing their response, publishing letters to the editor, off-beat articles, great information on entertainment, in-depth reporting on more serious issues, and the fun recognition for “Best Of” for so many classifications that make up the character of the city we all love. New Times has provided and continues to provide a great service to our community, and I am glad to have been a part of it during my political life in our beloved SLOTOWN.

—former SLO mayor Dave Romero

 

Congrats, New Times!

First off, I would like to offer my congratulations to New Times on its 25th anniversary. Testifying before the U.S. Senate on the future of newspapers, former reporter David Simon stressed the need for good local newspapers and talked about how critical it is for a community to have good reporters “in City Hall, or in the courthouse hallways, or at the bars and union halls where police officers gather.” Without strong local reporting, a community could know more about what goes on in Washington or Sacramento than what goes on right in their backyards.

New Times performs a critical public service by making sure that the residents of San Luis Obispo County know what’s happening in their communities and how they can engage to keep our community strong. Here’s to another 25 years.

—Congresswoman Lois Capps

 

Waltz master

I think New Times is really bending over backwards to help the people of this county that are down and out. That’s the same people we’re trying to help, and we’ve certainly had a lot of support from New Times and appreciate that. Because of New Times, the people of San Luis have a much better appraisal of what’s going on with the homeless and the have-nots, and I think that’s helping a vital part of our community.

I think that New Times has been through the waltz or dance with the county and me, and it’s been colorful and varied and extreme and everything else, and we’re hoping that it leads to something more beneficial to everybody.

—Dan De Vaul

 

An artist’s perspective

New Times: What does it mean to me? Well, the happiest place in the country would not be so happy were it not for my weekly fix of giggles and gasps. New Times is Local, it’s Dishy, and it Breaks the Rules. Oh, and it’s the right size.

I like the format: Bold cover and always a ton of pictures inside.

I like the arts and entertainment emphasis and am truly grateful for the attention I have always got from you guys … I love you!!! Air kiss, air kiss.

The long relationship “Art After Dark” has had with the paper seems very positive. From the beginning, Steve Moss, Glen Starkey, and all the folks over at the little office when it was on Santa Rosa Street were always supportive of the monthly art walk, and without the many years of free advertisement and guide, the event would not have got off the ground or be as popular.

Oh, and about 10 years ago Steve Moss bought a big painting of mine for the foyer of the new building down on Higuera and it’s still around in the new offices. I love that.

There are a lot of advertisements, but at least some of them are for naughty stuff, plus I always like the way MY ads look (with the help of designers there).

Then, of course, there is the fact that ads are what pay for the production of the paper, so that I can have it FREE.

Free, Young, Arty, Controversial, lots of pictures. Right up my alley.

—Josephine Crawford

 

Aging gracefully

Happy anniversary, SLO New Times! I’ve had the privilege of watching you age gracefully, and now at the ripe old age of 25, you have carved out a niche for journalism that is relevant and provocative. New Times has done more than report news; your reporting has made us question ourselves, laugh at ourselves, and challenge ourselves to do better for our community.

What I have admired about the Times’ unique style of journalism is the willingness to take the lead on stories well before others recognized the significance. When the SS Montebello was featured on the front page, scores of readers learned for the first time about the potential of 3,000,000 gallons of oil sitting entombed just miles from our neighborhood beaches. Years before a burning platform in the Gulf made coastal oil disasters headline news, New Times had already put federal and state marine experts on record regarding the condition of and potential ecological threat posed by this aging vessel. As a direct result of their reporting, I was able to engage state and federal agencies to begin assessing the SS Montebello so we can avoid a disaster and ensure our coast is protected.

New Times has also demonstrated a long and deep attention span to the local issues impacting our community. Central Coast readers have benefited from the paper’s investigative pieces that link historical perspective with thought-provoking reporting. Thanks, SLO New Times, for more than two decades of hard-hitting news. Keep up the great work.

—Sen. Sam Blakeslee

 

The well-received author

New Times was founded in 1986, the same year that I graduated from high school and moved to SLO to study journalism at Cal Poly. A few years later, I got to know the paper’s late publisher and founder, Steve Moss, who would later become my mentor and boss. Both the man and his paper were scrappy and smart, bringing a much-needed energy, curiosity, and sense of justice to sleepy SLO-Town, filling an important void in the staid media landscape.

As I studied journalism and prepared for my newspaper career, New Times was the only local paper doing the kind of work that inspired me: writing with a strong voice, speaking truth to power, willing to experiment with tone and style, covering issues relevant to people’s everyday lives, fearlessly following leads and demanding the documents and access journalists need to do their jobs well. As a student journalist, I started freelancing for New Times and learning from Steve.

After working for daily newspapers for a few years, I got the opportunity to come work as a staff writer for New Times in 1995, a turning point in my life when I really began to become the journalist that I am today. Over the next four years, I learned to become an investigative reporter and to write with a perspective and clarity that would propel me through an award-winning career at three more progressively larger alt-weeklies, carrying the lessons from Steve and the spirit of New Times with me.

Today, I’m the city editor at the San Francisco Bay Guardian and author of the well-received book The Tribes of Burning Man: How an Experimental City in the Desert is Shaping the New American Counterculture. I’ve led a rich and exciting life. But I fantasize about returning to my roots at some point, to New Times. So watch out, San Luis Obispo, I may be back. Until then, happy birthday, New Times.

—Steven T. Jones

 

Musically speaking …

As a musician who’s been playing in this county since the Dark(room) Days before New Times showed up in town, I know that our free local alternative rag is great for our live music scene. Every week, for free, we’ve been able to reach the folks who appreciate our music and find out ourselves who’s playing where. Glen Starkey’s music column has been the first thing I turn to—well, really the second, after the letters—ever since he had to give up that lucrative bartending gig when DKs closed back in the early ’90s. And of course the more music fans who know about our gigs, the more successful those gigs are, and the more the gigs keep coming. Thanks for keeping food on my table all these years!

But Glen, if you really are the Shredder, I just gotta know—did you come up with that pseudonym because you have a secret penchant for ripping on the air guitar? I could use some moves, bro!

And who could ever forget the “Personals” and the New Times foray into the dating rituals of our SLO-town? You really know you live in a small town when you compare the alternative papers of San Francisco and our little “Duckburg.” Compare “Long walks on the beach” with “Looking for a middle-aged male with an upper-shaved body.” I guess there is a certain edu-tainment ... ahem. ∆

—“Guitar Wizard” Billy Foppiano

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