Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Reason #546 Why I Hate Local News...

My iGoogle is set to give me the latest headlines from Idaho's largest newspaper, a feed which is occasionally almost useful. Usually, not so much. For example, I just logged on to read, "Boise police to step up patrols to target drunken drivers during July 4th weekend." How is this news? Haven't the Boise police (like every other police dept. in the U.S.A.) been doing this every year since Candice Lightner got started (if not before)? What would be newsworthy is if the Boise police decided to sit out one holiday weekend.

But that wasn't the worst excuse for 'news' I saw posted on the paper's website today. No, sir. It was this piece:

Police go undercover on dog poop patrol

Boise police tried to crack down on dog owners who flout the city's dog leash and poop pickup laws Tuesday, but an early-morning rain storm apparently kept many away from the parks.

Four citations were issued in the first two and a half hours of the focused patrol, according to Boise Police Sgt. Paul Burch, who leads the neighborhood contact officer unit. They began observing park users at about 7:30 a.m.
I'm not sure how this last sentence helps the story much, save getting the writer a few characters closer to her word-target.
The eight neighborhood officers who targeted North End parks were in plain clothes to avoid tipping off the scofflaws.
"in plain clothes to avoid tipping off the scofflaws" was included for all those readers confused by the term "undercover" in the headline. No, the police weren't in dog costumes, they were dressed as dog owners.
"The truth of the matter is ... people actually get out of their cars, look around with their dogs on leash, then they unclip them and let them run amok," Burch said.

Members of the group Boise Trail DOG and regular users of the Foothills, including North End resident Jodi Peterson, have been trying to educate dog owners about their responsibilities.

A week and a half ago, Peterson announced a new leash-lending program that would make leashes available at kiosks at a half dozen trailheads.
For dog owners who don't want to go to the bother of buying a leash, congrats! You now know where to steal one!
Burch said police did a focused patrol Tuesday because of the volume of complaints recently about people letting their dogs off leash in leash-only areas and not picking up dog poop.

He noted that annual community surveys show that dog issues are a top concern among Boise residents.
Translation: Life in Boise is pretty good.
Boise police's bike patrol issued 83 off-leash dog citations in city parks and along the Greenbelt last year. That's a five-year low in annual citations issued, according to police data. There were 141 citations issued in 2005.

Burch speculated that more citations were issued in 2005 because more people complained that year.
I'm going to give Sgt. Burch credit for not being this clueless and chalk up this fairly obvious bit of observation (sorry, "speculation") to the way it was written.
"Complaints drive our enforcement," Burch said. "If we get a lot of complaints about something, we respond to the needs of the community."

The fine for each violation in city parks is $25 plus court costs, bringing the total to $66.50.

Anywhere else in the city, a dog at large violation is a misdemeanor, which means dog owners are summoned to court. The penalty is set by the judge.

Zet Castets, a North End resident who regularly walks her dog at Camel's Back Park, noticed that there were four or five piles of dog poop in the grassy area of the park Tuesday.
What are we to conclude about Ms. Castets here? Has she spent too much time in Camel's Back Park to note the natural beauty? Maybe she should switch to another park to walk her dog. Or maybe she's Camel's Back Park's version of Gladys Kravitz.
She keeps her waistpack stuffed with green dog poop bags to clean up after her 3 year old dog, an Australian shepherd-border collie mix named Voyou (French for "little rascal").
Clearly, the writer (name withheld to protect the guilty) is just going for word volume here, not content. Who cares what the dog's name is? How is that relevant? And the French translation? That's just showing off--not unlike "scofflaw" above--the latter I didn't mind, actually appreciated the atypical vocabulary, but "French for 'little rascal'"? Puh-leez.
"Some are responsible, but not everybody," said Castets, a native of France who has lived in Boise for the past couple years. "Some people don't pay attention. They don't care. We all have to do our share."
And as she said that, Gung-Ho and Duke from G.I. Joe came up behind Ms. Castets and said, "And now you know." To which she replied "And knowing's half the battle." The three all laughed and the article ended.

Or something like that.