by Ben L. Kaufman
7 days ago
Media musings from Cincinnati and beyond
Cincinnati IRS employees violated IRS rules and maybe the law by
harassing scores of Tea Party and similar conservative groups seeking
vital nonprofit status.
an example of IRS intrusiveness, the Enquirer reports that the Liberty
Township Tea Party received a questionnaire demanding information the
IRS is not allowed to seek. “The letter was signed by a local IRS
official, who did not return calls seeking comment,” the paper initially
reported. Who? Name names. If the IRS employee signed and sent an
official government document, there’s no reason to grant anonymity.
in its initial full page A-section story, the Enquirer quotes Ohio IRS
spokeswoman Jennifer Jenkins saying, “Mistakes were made.” By whom?
Again, names, please. Americans increasingly favor the passive voice,
“mistakes were made” but no one made them. If the paper pressed for
names of mistake-makers, it’s not evident. And who was fired? Anyone?
Associated Press — whose reporter broke this scandal story — says the
Cincinnati mess is at least two years old. This isn’t new. We’ve seen
IRS harassment of activists before and probably will again. Each time,
it’s a scandal. Or should be.
loss of residual confidence in IRS nonpartisanship is a helluva lot more
serious than the muddle surrounding the killing of four Americans in
Benghazi or the murder of three spectators at the Boston marathon.
sure it’s coincidence that the Cincinnati IRS harassment preceded the
2012 election. And I’m sure those employees were motivated only by zeal
to protect the purity of the 501(c)(4) status from improper or illegal
political activity. But I’m also sure that any agnostic or atheist
Republicans are looking at this Cincinnati-born national IRS scandal as
proof that “there is a God.” Now, to keep that wrath boiling with
hearings until 2014 elections.
Associated Press says it’s the target of a sweeping Justice Department
search for the news service’s confidential sources. Monday, AP reported
the Justice Department “secretly obtained two
months of telephone records of reporters and editors . . . in what the
news cooperative's top executive called a ‘massive and unprecedented
intrusion’ into how news organizations gather the news.
records obtained by the Justice Department listed outgoing calls for
the work and personal phone numbers of individual reporters, general AP
office numbers in New York, Washington and Hartford, Conn., and the main
number for AP reporters in the House of Representatives press gallery,
according to attorneys for the AP. It was not clear if the records also
included incoming calls or the duration of calls.
all, the government seized the records for more than 20 separate
telephone lines assigned to AP and its journalists in April and May of
2012. The exact number of journalists who used the phone lines during
that period is unknown but more than 100 journalists work in the offices
where phone records were targeted, on a wide array of stories about
government and other matters.”
Maybe it’s time to call in the Plumbers.
no fan of public radio’s Ira Glass. His whiney voice sends me to WLW
700 AM radio for something more insanely macho. Now, he’s shoveling
natural soil enrichment in recorded promos for public radio fund
raising. I heard them on WVXU-FM’s just-ended fund drive. His point: We
should all be happy because everyone who listens to public radio helps
support public radio. Not true. Never will be. At WVXU, fewer than 10 percent
of us donate to its support. That means Ira Glass’s everyone are mostly
parasites, listening but not paying. (Our family is a sustaining member
of WVXU and WGUC . . . )
do our local news media track Macy’s commitment to ethical sourcing of
its house-brand clothing from Asian countries where factory fires,
collapses, etc., are just a cost of doing business? Contracts go where
labor is cheapest. People work or go hungry. It’s only going to get
worse when huge numbers of youngsters mature. Macy’s said the right
things after hundreds died after a Bangladesh factory crumbled, but now
it’s up to reporters to stay on the story.
glad Macy’s says it will continue to buy products made in Bangladesh.
Pleasing writers of anguished Letters to the Editor and leaving
Bangladesh in a virtuous huff doesn’t employ or feed anyone. I’ve been
in and out of developing countries for half a century. Lots of cheap
unskilled or semi-skilled labor feeds more families than one machine
(that breaks and rusts unrepaired). Whether it’s subsistence farming,
breaking stones with hammers for roadbeds, pedaling a rickshaw or
laborers carrying building materials up ladders in baskets on their
heads, it’s work that feeds. We can feel guilty, but walking away helps
accuses the Plain Dealer of racist news judgment over stories about
kidnapped young women freed recently after a decade of imprisonment and
abuse. BBC based its provocative judgment on its count of stories about
two of the three young women, Gina DeJesus and Amanda Berry. “In
Cleveland, the newspaper stories were mainly about the white girl,” BBC
News Magazine reporter Tara McKelvey wrote. “In the 10 years Berry was
missing, the Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper published 36 articles
about her, according to a search of electronic news archive Lexis-Nexis.
During the nine-year period that DeJesus, who is Hispanic, was missing, the newspaper published 19 articles about her case.”
is typical of American news media where MWW (Missing White Woman) gets
more coverage than black or Hispanic girls and women, according to
academics McKelvey quoted.
Chris Quinn, the Plain Dealer’s assistant managing editor/metro, rejects
McKelvey’s accusation. He says it’s not only wrong but “based on an
analysis so simplistic we would have thought it beneath an organization
such as yours.” Quinn said his “much more thorough review” shows the
reverse of the BBC tally. “The number of stories about DeJesus actually
is greater than the number mentioning Berry, contrary what you assert.
Your analysis did not include all variations of the DeJesus first name, a
rather glaring lapse.”
continued, “Because of the racial aspect your network chose to focus
on, we also included in our review stories about Shakira Johnson, a
black child who went missing around the same time as Amanda and Gina.
The hunt for Shakira was as big a community effort as the hunt for the
other missing girls.” Here’s his tally:
Stories mentioning Shakira Johnson and not Gina DeJesus and Amanda Berry: 145
Stories mentioning only Gina DeJesus (or Georgina DeJesus): 24
Stories mentioning only Amanda Berry: 17
Stories mentioning Berry and DeJesus together: 8
Stories mentioning Berry, DeJesus and Johnson: 6
Stories mentioning DeJesus and Johnson together: 2
Quinn closed, “The suggestion that this newspaper has used race as any
kind of filter in its story choices is offensive in the extreme. We’re
shocked that such a poorly reported story could be posted by a network
with your reputation.”
can thank Time magazine and writer Steven Brill for prying comparative
hospital costs from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The Enquirer carried a sample for local hospitals.
According to Poynter.com,
the journalism website, Brian Cook at the department’s Centers for
Medicare and Medicaid Services tells Brill the move “comes in part”
because of Brill’s article from March about health-care costs. HHS
Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is also offering $87 million to the states
to create what she calls “health-care-data-pricing centers.”
continues, saying the centers will make pricing transparency more local
and user friendly than the giant data file. Brill says the report
“should become a tip sheet for reporters in every American city and
town, who can now ask hospitals to explain their pricing...If your
medical insurance requires you pay a percentage of a procedure’s cost,
that’s very useful information.”
are reporters going to call their bluff when speakers wax lyrical about
the joys of good guys with guns stopping bad guys with guns? Instead of
spreading these fantasies, interview people who train others in the
defensive use of handguns. Or talk to police and military firearms
instructors and combat veterans on how difficult it can be to overcome
the normal resistance to shooting another person.
at news stories that describe how many rounds officers fired in armed
confrontations; adrenalin does nothing to steady the gun hand or
restrain how many times an officer pulls the trigger. And these are the
best we have.
used handguns for more than 50 years. I passed the official Ohio
12-hour concealed/carry course for a CityBeat cover story. If anyone
thinks that training prepared them to provide armed response in schools,
movie theaters, malls, etc., they’re suffering a potentially deadly
delusion. It’s time reporters began to add that context to the debate of
guns in our society.
campuses are perfect for training student reporters. These schools
typically are rich with conflicts of interest, executives with edifice
complexes, misspent millions, and bureaucrats eager to escape blame or
avoid offending alumni. The Columbus Dispatch reported this example last
week about suburban Otterbein University, a United Methodist four-year
It said Otterbein
agreed to stop requiring students involved in sexual-assault cases to
sign confidentiality agreements because student newspaper journalists
discovered it was violating federal law. After
initially denying it, the Dispatch reported, an Otterbein official told
reporters for the student newspaper that he didn’t realize Otterbein had
had victims, as well as others, sign a nondisclosure clause.
just followed the bread crumbs,” Chelsea Coleman, a 21-year-old
journalism and public relations major who wrote the Tan & Cardinal
story with another student, told the Dispatch.
need not agree with Nobel-winning economist Paul Krugman to appreciate
his recent criticism of how news media handle stories involving
expertise. In his New York Times op-ed column, Krugman singles out the
Washington Post but he could have included many if not most news media.
a controversial study by Harvard economists Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth
Rogoff, the Post warned that Americans are “dangerously near the 90 percent
mark that economists regard as a threat to sustainable economic growth.”
Krugman pounced. “Notice the
phrasing: ‘economists,’ not ‘some economists,’ let alone ‘some
economists, vigorously disputed by other economists with equally good
credentials,’ which was the reality.”
can be too eager to substitute formulaic brevity for accuracy: doctors
say, psychologists say, weight loss experts say, police say, reporters
say, etc. My advice: beware of any news story that identifies someone as
an “expert” without a clear explanation of their expertise.
0 Comments · Wednesday, April 24, 2013
We need a bit more mindfulness and maybe a
little less blind, thoughtless passion. Let’s make some hard decisions
about who we are and acknowledge the “strange” diversity of our
0 Comments · Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Typically, invoking a Great Man to settle
an argument involves Lincoln, Twain, Stalin, Churchill, Chief Seattle,
etc. Hitler is a provocative new favorite. Among some gun control foes, quoting
Hitler proves what will happen if Obama has his way: gun registration,
confiscation and tyranny.
0 Comments · Wednesday, January 16, 2013
I swear there are days when it would be
best to turn off the television, stay away from computers, the Internet
and smartphones, maybe just remain in bed with the covers firmly clasped
over my head to silence the ignorant noise spewing out of the mouths
(and from the furiously tweeting thumbs) of politicians, commentators
by German Lopez
130 days ago
State gets C in human trafficking, Kasich funds mental health, mall businesses evicted
An annual human trafficking report released by Attorney General Mike DeWine gave Ohio a C.
The grade, which comes from Shared Hope International, was a step up
from D's in the previous two years. But DeWine says it’s not enough, and
further action will be taken. Ohio has made some
strides on the human trafficking issue, including passage of a new “Safe Harbor” law for sex-trafficking victims, new details for minor
trafficking victims and the training of 24,000 law-enforcement officers to
better detect and help trafficking victims.
Gov. John Kasich is giving $5 million
to mental health services to help curb and prevent violence. The news
comes in the wake of school shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary
School on Dec. 14 and a California high school yesterday. Mental health
services are important, but so is gun control, as CityBeat pointed out here. Vice President Joe Biden is currently heading an investigation to make suggestions on gun control to President Barack Obama.
The remaining businesses in Tower Place Mall were told to get out.
Cassidy Turley, the court-appointed receiver of the mall, apparently
filed eviction notices telling businesses to leave by March. The mall
has been struggling for some time now, and the city of Cincinnati is
currently in the process of trying to buy it. City Manager Milton
Dohoney says the city had no part in the evictions.
The city of Mason is apparently becoming a technology corridor.
Since 2011, the city has brought in $110 million in investments and
created 1,400 jobs. The new jobs are related to technology, robotics,
automation, innovation and health care.
Warren and Butler counties are apparently seeing a surge in sales tax revenue. The budgetary boost is being seen by some as a sign of further economic expansion.
Surrounded by dogs, Gov. Kasich signed legislation effectively banning puppy mills.
Previously, animal advocates claimed lax rules and regulations had made
Ohio a breeding ground for abusive practices. The lack of oversight
also helped enable Ohio’s dog auctions, which CityBeat covered here. The new law will go into effect within 30 days.
An Ohio school is apparently arming janitors. Previously, Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters made a suggestion to arm school staff, but research shows it doesn’t help deter or stop acts of violence.
Natural gas is being slightly deregulated in Ohio.
The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) is allowing two
companies — Columbia Gas of Ohio and Dominion East Ohio Gas — to
eliminate regulated pricing for businesses, with some conditions.
Supporters say the move will create more competition and lower prices,
but the deregulation gives a substantial advantage to two big energy
Congress is apparently less popular than head lice,
but it’s more popular than Lindsay Lohan. Damn. Does that mean people
prefer head lice to Lindsay Lohan? Even Nickelback and Ghengis Khan beat
Congress. Poor Lindsay.
Science has now found that animal grunts can act similarly to Morse code. Is this yet another warning of the impending animal takeover?
0 Comments · Wednesday, January 9, 2013
U.S. Rep. Tom Massie, the congressman who
represents the Kentucky side of the Cincinnati metropolitan area, used
his first day in Congress to file a bill that would erase a 23-year-old
federal ban that makes it a crime to carry guns near schools.
by Bill Sloat
137 days ago
Massie's first bill would repeal federal safety buffer enacted in 1990
U.S. Rep. Tom Massie, the congressman who represents the Kentucky side of the Cincinnati metropolitan area, used his first day in Congress to file a bill that would erase a 23-year-old federal ban that makes it a crime to carry guns near schools.At the moment, Massie does not have any co-sponsors signed up. Details are sparse because the government printing office says it does not yet have the full text of the measure to put online. The existing Gun-Free School Act of 1990, which was adopted when former president George H.W. Bush, a Republican, was in the White House is viewable here. The bill was amended in 1995. As late as 1999, the National Rifle Association (NRA) was testifying in support of the measure, a position it seems to have dropped after the Sandy Hook massacre.Under the existing law, so-called “school zones” include but are not
limited to parks, sidewalks, roads and highways within 1,000 feet of the
property line of a public or private elementary, middle or high school.
The law makes it practically impossible to travel in populated areas
without entering a "gun-free school zone." People with state-issued
licenses or permits to carry guns are exempted by the federal law, but
the exemption is only good in the state that issued the permit.The law doesn’t exempt out-of-state travelers who have permits, nor does
it allow off-duty police officers to pack a weapon in a school. And it
is a violation for anyone other than an on-duty police officer or a
school security guard to discharge a firearm in a school zone for any
reason. A state permit does not exempt a person from the discharge
is a copy of the bill that retired U.S. Rep. Ron Paul introduced while
the Texan was campaigning for the Republican presidential nomination. He called
his repeal measure the Citizen Protection Act, and he got no support from
co-sponsors. Paul’s bill died when the new Congress was sworn in
yesterday, but Massie is now resurrecting it.Massie is a tea party adherent — elected last fall to
replace Geoff Davis — who largely shares the political philosophies of Paul and his son, Sen. Rand Paul, who is also from Kentucky. Massie voted
against John Boehner for speaker on the opening day of the 113th
Congress, an act of open defiance against the Republican House leadership.
by Ben L. Kaufman
Media musings from Cincinnati and beyond
a small weekly responds to an unimaginable disaster and scores a world
scoop is a lesson in the best of journalism. Poynter online’s Julie Moos
described what happened after Newtown Bee associate editor Shannon
Hicks heard the initial call over her police scanner.
drove the mile and a quarter and arrived behind the first dozen police
officers. She started taking photographs through her windshield and
captured her image of a line of children being led away from the
slaughter. “I’m conflicted,” Hicks
said about her photo. “I don’t want people to be upset with me, and I do
appreciate the journalists, especially, who have commented, saying
‘We’re just documenting the news.’ It’s harder when it’s in your
hometown and these are children we’re gonna watch grow up, the ones who
made it. I know people are gonna be upset, but at the same time I felt I
was doing something important.”
editor John Voket explained what was behind that image. “Police and
school system have a protocol” for evacuation. “Children get into a
conga line, shoulder to shoulder, and the only person that’s allowed to
keep their eyes open is the locomotive at the front of the line, usually
an adult. And every other kid has to keep their eyes closed from the
minute they were exiting the classroom to when they got about a couple
hundred yards into the parking lot.”
arrived about 20 minutes later and colleague Hicks “passed the baton”
to him. Hicks also is a volunteer firefighter. The firehouse is next to
the school. “I literally put on my firefighter gear . . . I was there as
a firefighter probably for not even more than 20 minutes before my
editor said he wanted me back in the office to work with him to
coordinate coverage from there.”
continued reporting, but “We operate a little differently because our
job is to take care of the community so we were inside helping to
comfort victims and trying to provide human support without necessarily
making reporting the No. 1 priority. The publisher came down to
comfort some of the families a little later in the day.” R. Scudder
Smith has been Bee publisher since 1973; he is the fourth member of his family to run The Bee
since they founded it in 1877. The paper, which has a full-time
editorial staff of eight, circulates to about two-thirds of the
community of about 29,000.
was Friday and the weekly Bee front page was ready to print. It couldn’t
be changed. “We’ve been putting everything on our website,” publisher
Smith told AP.
added that the traffic surge repeatedly crashed the website until the
Bee acquired “an intermediary service to supersize our bandwidth . . .
We got back up and running this (Saturday) morning.” The staff used
social media to spread information about school lockdowns, re-routed traffic, and grief counseling.
“Facebook and Twitter accounts have been a lifeline to our community
and it shows because 20 percent of the community are following us.” The
Bee also was “looking at doing a special extra to be on the newsstands
those of us outside Newtown, Conn., we can turn to the renewed duel over
gun control. If it were a song, tired and familiar gun control lyrics
would be among “Worst Hits Ever.” It didn’t take long for gun control
advocates to embrace the Sandy Hook massacre and the bellicose NRA to
opt for rare silence. Obama renewed his unredeemed calls for gun
control although he and Mitt Romney dodged the issue in the just-ended
campaign. It was a hornets’ nest neither man opted to kick and reporters
apparently were unable to raise with the candidates.
the Sandy Hook slaughter, fair and balanced Fox News banned discussion
of gun control from the cable network. Maybe Fox News feared we really
would decide if they really reported. New York magazine said the ban spotlights
the “growing chasm between Rupert Murdoch and [Fox News president]
Roger Ailes.” Ailes reportedly is a gun enthusiast. Murdoch, CEO of News
Corp., which owns Fox News, had tweeted a call for stricter gun
control, imploring for “some bold leadership action” from Obama.
me be churlish when everyone else is sympathizing with families,
survivors and first responders. Slaughtering 20 children is awful, but
reporters and editors are familiar with how badly Americans treat urban,
suburban, small town and rural children every day. In Obama’s Chicago
and many other urban areas, gunfire is an omnipresent fact of childhood.
Possibly one-fourth of all American children live in poverty as defined
by federal guidelines. For these kids, federally funded school meals
might be more than a complement to home meals. Health care for poor and
malnourished children isn’t much better than their educations. Medicaid
is among the anti-poverty programs high on the GOP priorities for
absolute cuts and/or reduced annual increases. And let’s not even get
into continuing coverage of physical and sexual child abuse, trafficking
minors and lifelong handicaps from poor or nonexistent prenatal care or
maternal drug and alcohol abuse.
foolish or ignorant reporters credit pious assertions that legislation
can prevent disturbed individuals from obtaining guns and killing as
many people as they can. There are more than 310 million people in this
country. Some are or will become seriously mentally disturbed and obtain
one or more of the hundreds of millions of firearms Americans own. A
Columbine or Sandy Hook could happen again any day.
on the shooting victims rather than shooters might reduce any copycat
effect. Stories and photos elevating killers to celebrity have been
blamed for further rampages. Even though the killer never was
identified, that was the inference drawn from Tylenol poisonings 30
years ago; copycats tried to poison Tylenol capsules. When coverage
began to fade, so did copycat crimes.
leaders realized years ago that traditional (and valuable) Eddie Eagle
gun safety comics and courses were insufficient to motivate and keep
members and their dues. Fear and anger would be more effective. Real and
imagined government controls became NRA’s cause. Few modern American
movements have been as durable and effective as the NRA.
is powerful because we are a democracy. It can mobilize more than 4
million members and fellow travelers as voters, donors and voices in the
news media. Elected representatives who want to keep their jobs quite
reasonably try to avoid the NRA’s opposition. Gun control advocates
evince nothing like this single-minded devotion to their cause.
1994, the Clinton administration won a10-year limit on the sale of
assault-style weapons and large capacity magazines for their ammunition.
I went to a gun store in Hamilton to cover a rush to beat the ban.
Chinese assault-style rifles and curved high-capacity magazines were
selling as fast as staff could pry open crates. As I watched, the price
rose $10 with each new crate: demand and supply. Men who talked to me
said they were buying because of the imminent controls on assault-style
rifles and high-capacity magazines. A few admitted fear of civil unrest
or some undefined federal assault. Most said they wanted a
military-style rifle for shooting targets or empty beer cans and this
might be their last chance.That 10-year ban died in 2004 when
Republicans owned all three branches of federal government and didn’t
seek renewal. However, recent killings that required assault-style
weapons with large-capacity magazines might prompt reconsideration of
the ban. Adam Lanza reportedly carried hundreds of rounds of ammunition
in high-capacity magazines. No one knows why he didn’t use them.
gun control measure that’s not DOA will have to respect millions of
long guns — rifles and shotguns — used by hunters, farmers and others.
That distinction is an important part of this story already handicapped
by the paucity of journalists who hunt or otherwise own firearms.
addition to an unfamiliarity with firearms, partisan hyperbole also
handicaps writing about guns and gun control. It can be hard to find
neutral sources who share reporters’ interest in accurate coverage.
Stenographic reporting giving “both sides” isn’t good enough;
journalists must know enough to challenge obvious partisan
misstatements. We are not obligated to report what we know to be untrue
or to label it as such.
with gun control cropped up in a recent Enquirer story about a failed
armed robbery attempt inside a suburban Sunoco station. Employees with a
handgun and a shotgun fatally wounded the would-be bandit. The Enquirer
story said it was unclear whether the employees had conceal-carry
licenses for those firearms. Unless someone somehow cloaked a shotgun’s
18-28” barrel, no conceal/carry permit is required. Unless the other
Sunoco clerk carried the pistol under his clothes, he didn’t need a
permit. Wearing it openly or storing it under the counter does not
require a conceal/carry permit. So what was the point of that line in
the story? Just because a cop might have said it doesn’t mean the
reporter had to share it. That’s what I’m talking about.
in much gun control coverage is Congress’ inability to craft sensible,
workable bipartisan gun control specifics that can survive NRA
opposition and Supreme Court scrutiny. Firearm confiscation is out of
the question. So is universal registration which raises NRA-orchestrated
fear of confiscation — by ATF, the UN or some other demon de jour — to hysteria. Moreover, the court affirmed an individual Second
Amendment right to own guns in 2010 but it did not rule out federal,
state or local regulations governing firearm use.
faced with new rage over shootings should remind partisans that we have
gun control already. Forty nine states issue conceal/carry permits but
specify where those handguns may not be carried. Illinois — State No.
50 — is under court order to replace its ban with a conceal/carry
permit system. Many if not most municipalities bar gun owners from
firing their weapons within city limits with the exception of
self-defense. States commonly limit when hunters can use rifles and/or
shotguns and they can require a certain size bullet for large-game
hunting. Landowners may bar hunters from their property during
state-sanctioned hunting seasons.
are federal limits on how short a “sawed off” shotgun or rifle barrel
may be. There are laws limiting ownership of silencers and fully
automatic machine guns and submachine guns. Federally licensed firearms
dealers must run background checks on prospective buyers and turn away
those who fail or won’t comply. Dealers can deny convicted felons a gun
under federal and many state laws. A legal purchaser may not buy a
firearm for someone who would fail a federal background check.
Mentally-ill customers can be turned away by dealers.
of the roughly 12,000 Americans shot to death annually are killed with
shot with shotguns or rifles. They’re shot with pistols. So when gun
control is promoted, reporters should press advocates to say what they
• Before reporters share the lunacy of arming
teachers, ask local cops how many rounds typically are fired from their
handguns in an armed encounter . . . and how many of those bullets hit
their target. Not many. It's very, very difficult for someone trained
even at the level of police to accurately fire when adrenaline is
pumping. The teacher might end up shooting more students than the
intruder. Better to count on the low probability of an armed intrusion.
Think about how rare this is. Awful when it happens, but very, very
rare, even in communities where other shootings are far more frequent.
0 Comments · Wednesday, December 19, 2012
On Dec. 14, the United States was hit by
another mass shooting. This time, a gunman forced himself into an
elementary school and killed 20 children and six adults.
by German Lopez
Councilman says more gun regulations unlikely at local level
In light of the Newtown, Conn., massacre, a City Council member wants metal detectors put back in City Hall.
Democratic Councilman Cecil Thomas says he’s always been
concerned about security, and he hopes recent bouts of gun
violence will make it clear more protective steps are necessary.
Thomas argues City Hall should not be
an exception to a practice that’s carried out in other government buildings. He
points to federal and county buildings and other city halls around the
nation, which tend to use metal detectors.
Thomas, who was a police officer until 2000, acknowledges
metal detectors are a “little bit of an inconvenience” to visitors, but he adds, “These are times when a little bit more
inconvenience can go a long way to possibly save a lot of lives.”So City Hall could get more security, but what about the city as a whole? Earlier today, Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls announced City Council will work on a resolution to encourage Congress to pass new gun regulations at a federal level. Beyond that, Thomas says not much is likely.The problem is state law trumps local law
when it comes to gun regulations, so City Council’s hands are tied on the issue. “I would like to see us be able to
control our own destiny as it relates to gun laws, but, obviously, I
have no control over that,” Thomas says.
Metal detectors were in place at City Hall until
2006, when Mayor Mark Mallory had them taken down to make City Hall more
open to the public.