Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2008 | Ok, so there was an article in today’s Union-Tribune related to the “alcohol ban.” Having no interest in this issue, I generally wouldn’t read related articles; however, this one caught my eye. Apparently, “[o]f the 45,557 signatures turned in by opponents, not enough were determined VALID.” Hmmm. This got me thinking just a bit.

What is a “valid” signature? The article in the U-T didn’t provide any explanation. It simply reiterated a conclusion as a truism. The signatures were not valid. The article continued to leave me under-informed (new word, I know), by exclaiming, “[a] random sampling of 1,367 signatures — 3 percent of those submitted — revealed that 680 qualified.” The article provided no explanation about the qualification process.

It was as if the writer did not want me to ask the question: it would require research on the part of the writer, real journalism, or at the very least, a Google search. Come on U-T, the readers shouldn’t be required to gobble up facts as true without support. Tell us dear paper, what makes a signature “invalid”?

Why did some qualify, while others did not? Does it depend on the pen color, the slant of the handwriting, perhaps it’s whether one uses those happy, little hearts over their “i’s” instead of the traditional dot.

Now, I know there is a process, there are standards, but wouldn’t it be nice if the paper in a gesture of kindness or respect for, perhaps even solidarity with, its readers provided the information in the article, so the public wouldn’t be left wondering if their signatures were stricken randomly from the ballot, that some individual wasn’t left alone in a room debating whether a name was either a hanging or pregnant chad. Yes, I know, alcohol on the beach isn’t your issue, so why am I making such a big deal about this.

Well, some day, potentially in the near future, there will be an initiative of greater impact, one in which everyone in the city wants a voice. Wouldn’t you, as a citizen, want to know, whether your voice would be heard, and if not, why. I believe the paper, in this case, had a duty to the readers to inform them of the standards used by the City, to ask the right questions to assure the reader that those standards were applied, so that when the time comes, when your issue comes forth, you will know how to be heard, and your name won’t be written off as a pregnant chad.

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