Saturday, July 02, 2011

If politicians hold a campaign event/meeting and the press doesn't cover it, did it really happen?

Thursday, the "Senate Ad Hoc Task Force On Forest Management 2011" was scheduled to hold a special public meeting at the Show Low High School.

The "Task Force" is made up of seven of the most stridently anti-environment members of the Republican caucus of the Arizona State Senate.  They were scheduled to discuss the factors behind the slew of massive wildfires that have burned (and are burning) hundreds of thousands of acres in Arizona.

Essentially, Sen. Sylvia Allen, the chair of the task force, and her merry band of political cutthroats were going to find ways to blame the fires on environmentalists, undocumented immigrants, and probably environmentalists again.

To be fair, the list of scheduled speakers at the meeting included at least one representative from the Center for Biological Diversity and from other legitimate organizations, so there was at least the possibility that Allen's anti-environment screeds wouldn't go unchallenged.

I was unable to make that meeting, but looked forward to reading accounts of the meeting from the press (yes, I'm a political geek :) ).

So imagine my surprise when I searched for something on the meeting and found


Not in the Arizona Republic.  Not in the Arizona Capitol Times.  Not in the Arizona Guardian.  Not even in the White Mountain Independent, the outlet that actually covers Show Low specifically.

I couldn't find press releases from the participants, so I don't even have evidence that the meeting actually took place.

Now, I've been doing this and being just generally politically active long enough now to know that most politicians would rather face loud disagreement than be quietly ignored (not that they exactly crave disagreement).

Apparently, Daniel Scarpinato, the press guy for the Republicans in the House knows this too.

Hence the hastily-called meeting of the House version of the same "task force," the "House Ad Hoc Committee On Arizona Forests Restoration Management."  The meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, July 5, at 2 p.m. at the Capitol.

I refer to the meeting as "hastily-called" because it wasn't on the schedule on Thursday but it was there Friday.  In addition, most of these meetings are set up with advance notice of at least a week or two, not a business day or two.

The House meeting announcement touts the attendance of Congressman Paul Gosar (R-DDS), who I'm guessing has no forest management knowledge or insight that goes much beyond "campers should floss before carefully extinguishing any campfires."

While I don't expect any great ideas to be offered at the meeting, I do expect it to be covered by the Capitol press corps.

If only because getting to the House meeting will take a brief five minute walk from the Executive Tower, not the epic 3.5 hour drive to Show Low required to attend the Senate meeting.

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