A new view for a veteran newsman

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

We couldn't agree more with the city councillors who admitted they had a tough decision Monday night.

But we have to admit a little bias.

The "loser" of two candidates for the seat vacated by Marty Conroy on the McCook City Council, Duane Tappe, was imminently qualified to take the position, having been active in numerous civic activities, most recently the drive to fund the creation of the new bronze tribute to Sen. George Norris.

Tappe knows his way around the bureaucracies that control so much of our lives, having spent years in education and as administrating Educational Service Units, as well as on McCook's zoning board, sales tax ballot committee and the Wakefield City Council.

We tend to believe his statement that his main concern was that only two candidates came forward to volunteer for the appointment. From what we have seen, Tappe's motives are usually just that simple and honest. We know he'll have many more opportunities to serve the community in the future.

But we have to admit a little envy for the "winner" of the appointment, Jack Rogers, who retired as editor of the Gazette 12 years ago.

It's not unheard of for active newspaper people to serve on city councils and school boards, especially in smaller towns, but it's rare. It's important that the public have an unbiased source of information about the entities that spends its tax dollars and set the rules that govern daily life.

But it's unfortunate that knowledge and wisdom gained over years of covering government too often goes to waste.

In fact, we've often used this space to decry the loss of "institutional memory" that is the cost of term limits in the Nebraska Legislature.

Now, Jack has a chance to provide that "memory," bringing a perspective that can only come from sitting through decades of council meetings. No other current City Council member can recall, first hand, events like the firefighter's walk-out and countless other examples of civic drama.

And, while he's been invited into executive sessions before, no other council member knows as well what it's like to need and desire information and not have access to it.

Many news people secretly harbor a desire to help shape the news rather than just report on it. We know Jack Rogers will make the most of his opportunity to do just that.

It should be fun to watch the newest member get used to the view from the other side of that table in the City Council chambers.

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