Public's need to know?

Posted: Friday, September 28, 2001

I read your Sept. 27 article, "Three city candidates have alcohol convictions," with wonder.

I wondered what this has to do with an election in 2001? I wondered if this type of journalism is why it is so difficult to get people to run for office? I wondered what'll be in tonight's paper - candidates who have had abortions? Sunday's paper - candidates who have been divorced? And Monday's - candidates who excessively smoke tobacco (just in time for Monday's clean air ordinance debate)?

I am definitely not advocating drinking and driving - that was hammered home hard when our community recently lost two irreplaceable members to a senseless stupid drunk driving act. We as a community do treat alcohol convictions seriously when they happen. Names are given to the media, jail time is mandatory and serious expenses are extracted. They are indeed put in a public stock for humiliation.

Sept. 11 reinforced to me that life is short and unpredictable. How we treat our fellow man this day is important. They may not be here tomorrow "to get over it." The three individuals in the article screwed up and paid for it. The Empire obviously thinks they need to keep paying with humiliation. This article was an abuse of our precious freedom to publish and, at the least, bad judgment in how we treat our fellow human beings. Did this article fall under the public need to know or the Empire's need to sell papers?

The issue reported on Randy Wanamaker is older than his opponent Clancy DeSmet. The issue with Chuck Collins is 11 years old. The most recent incident is seven years old. Articles reporting events this old offer no pertinent information on candidates. It is a disclosure of errors in one's life simply because you can.

So what do we have? We have a screaming negative headline. We have three candidates wondering why they ran for office. And, sadly, we have many wonderful potential candidates in our community that may have erred 20 years ago unwilling to run for office and find their indiscretion on the front page of our local newspaper.

Clancy, Chuck, Randy, I appreciate that you have stepped forward to serve the community of Juneau. Don't let this keep you from continuing to go forward with your participation in government. "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men (and women) do nothing."

Ken Koelsch


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