Gannett let go of 700 people in its community publishing division, or 3 percent of its employees across newspapers like The Courier-Journal of Louisville, Ky., The Cincinnati Enquirer in Ohio and The Indianapolis Star. The companyâ€™s flagship paper, USA Today, cut 9 percent of its workforce last summer and was not affected by the layoffs
Â Â Â Â We grieve for the employees of Gannett-USA Today. Some on the conservative side of the aisle may not be moved to tears over the slow agonizing death of the mainstream press, but for the people who toiled putting out the product, we feel bad. That was yesterday.Â Then today there is the story of how municipalities are coping with economic hard times by encouraging volunteerism. The storyline is how cities all over the country are using volunteer labor to tackle community projects, especially in such areas as beautification, youth ‘development’, and so on, utilizing funding from ‘corporate sponsors’ and by hiring paid professionals to oversee it all .
It’s brilliant in its simplicity,” says Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter. “What we’ve all come to realize is that there are many folks who want to give their time, want to give their talent but, in a lot of cases, cities struggle with how they want to utilize that talent.”
Enter “chief service officers,” paid city employees whose job is to bring together volunteers, community groups and sponsors and get them to work towards the city’s goals.
Â Â Â Â In olden days, “city goals’ would have been things like..police and fire protection, building and maintaining infrastructure; Â you know, necessities first, amenitiesÂ second, Â and like that.Â City goals, even in tough economic times, aren’t what they used to be. Â Several examples are given in the USA Today piece about what different cities are doing with their
slave volunteer labor, but the feature item is aboutÂ a program in New York City.Â Here’s what the city’s ‘chief services officer’ has to say about her mission:
“How do we really take service and use it creatively to help the city get through difficult budget times?” says Diahann Billings-Burford, New York City’s chief service officer. “It’s really about being creative in difficult times â€¦ use volunteers strategically.”
And how is the city using ‘service’ creatively to help the city get through difficult times?
The Cool Roofs initiative has New Yorkers climbing on rooftops and slathering them with white reflective paint to cut down carbon emissions.
Â Â Â Â The photo accompanying the story shows a dozen or so people on a rooftop with long-handled paint rollers and five-gallon buckets of paint busily and happily painting the roof of the building white. They are all wearing bright orange t-shirts with slogans or logos or something front and back, which we cannot read on the small copy we have in front of us.Â But it doesn’t matter what it says.Â We’re sure it is very inspirational and …..causeworthy and …..empowering.Â
Â Â Â Â Â Those of you who keep abreast of the environmental whacko movement are probably aware of the brilliant strategy touted by such luminaries as Al Gore andÂ Energy Secretary Steven Chu of painting the rooftops of city buildings white toÂ reflect sunlight back into the atmosphere to…..slow down global warming.Â Â We know, we know.Â This is excruciating for us, too.Â But it gets worse.
Â Â Â Â You might be thinking, “Okay, we get it – Â How does the city wasting time and resources on cockamamie projectsÂ jibe with the goal of ‘getting through difficult budget times’?”Â Indeed.Â It would seem that, atÂ the least, if volunteers wanted to help the city, they could wear their own scruffy shirts to paint in and save the city that expense. (No, they were free!Â We got grants!Â and Corporate sponsors!)Â We have no clue what the cost of global warming-deterrent paint is these days, but that can’t be cheap.Â No, the cost of printing up a couple dozen t-shirts emblazoned with the pride of volunteership and the nobility of saving things like the planet is probably well worth it….to somebody.
Â Â Â Â As bad as all the aforementioned hypocrisy, folly and nonsequiturianism is, the real marker for us is the part about ….did you catch it? …..‘slathering them with white reflective paint to cut down carbonÂ emissions .’Â Whether you have a tendency to want to defer to Al Gore and Steven Chu or not on the subject ofÂ ‘global warming’, not to mention ‘anthropogenic global warming’ or even the latest iteration ofÂ ‘global climate disruption’, and even if you were so delusional, as apparently many are, to think that mankind could possibly manufacture and smear enough white paint in the rest of its entire existence to offset whatever Mother Nature, or Big Oil, Â is going to do to us, pleaseÂ don’t say stupid things like ‘slathering white paint to cut down carbon emissions.’Â Â Not one carbon atom will be kept from being emitted, even if you painted whiteÂ the roofs of all the city buildingsÂ and all the country buildings inÂ the world and the backs of all the camels , including humps.Â Carbon emissions laugh at white paint.Â Carbon emissions jeer and taunt andÂ ask forÂ ever more white paint because the manufacture and transportation and application of white paint does nothing but aid and abet carbon emissions.
Â Â Â Â Yes, we know.Â It was aÂ mistake.Â The writer got carried away in the moment, or whoever she was quoting did and misspoke.Â And the editors normally involved in catching such things were similarly in the spirit of the sentiment, Â if not otherwise preoccupied with who they are going to have to lay off next.Â Its the ‘theme’ that counts, can’t you see?Â That feeling.Â Â Â That …….state of mind. Â Everybody knows that the point is the cause, the great overarching objective of saving the environment and, being involved and, learning…..things….and, helping the city through difficult budget times and,Â Â volunteering and, Â getting a t-shirt and …………Â Still, one could hardly miss the offending sentence.Â It was the very first sentence of the piece.
Â Â Â Â Â Â We don’t know whether, when Haya El Nasser, the writer of the article, Â gets laid off, Â she will be fortunate enough to be able toÂ try andÂ help keep carbon from being emitted, or to deflect the Sun, Â and will receive a t-shirt, but for her, and for millions and millions more….we grieve.