letter to the editor of THB

Below is my submitted letter of yesterday to The Herald Bulletin in Anderson which responds to a previous article by reporter Ken de la Bastide.  I hope the newspaper will publish it in its entirety.

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“Ken de la Bastide’s January 2nd report on the status of the feasibility study for the reservoir plan was incomplete, and in our view, should have included at least the following.

The reporter evidently didn’t contact either our coalition for comment, or the Indiana Finance Authority for comment or clarification of the scope of work that the $600,000 grant of public funds will pay for.

The report didn’t mention our prior written input to the Indiana Finance Authority regarding the work scope.  Nor did it report our public records request to the IFA last month for a copy of the draft work scope, the fulfillment of which was delayed by the IFA until after the signing of the grant agreement— thus limiting our ability to provide input.  It did not identify the company which will do the financial analysis and community impact assessment portions, and how those important components are proposed to be conducted.

More importantly, the article didn’t report the limited, if not arbitrary, basis upon which the state’s decision was made to award the grant.  And it did not address questions about the propriety of the grant, and the large amount, especially considering that the Anderson CED apparently had already raised $400,000 in private funds for the Phase II study.

The report was a superficial status update (not a news story) which, in our view, was slanted to favor the planned dam and its promoters.

Civic journalism might have gone out of favor and practice in these times of financial pressure in the media business. However, reports on impactful public plans such as this bear a professional responsibility to provide pertinent investigative information to the citizens and public-at-large who are concerned about both the plan and the direction of our diminishing democracy. “

Clarke Kahlo

Heart of the River Coalition

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