Joplin City Manager Mark Rohr wrote a lengthy op-ed piece in Sunday's Joplin Globe supporting the $806 million TIF proposal for the city's tornado-damaged area.
It is the kind of article that at one time in the past would have generated dozens, if not hundreds, of comments, and any time you are talking about close to $1 billion, you need to have a lively discussion going on.
Sadly, that type of discussion is no longer taking place on the Joplin Globe's website. As with numerous articles on controversial issues affecting the city, there have not been any comments...absolutely no comments...about the city manager's reasoning. None in support, none opposed.
At first, I wondered if this was because of the recent change in the Globe's comments, requiring them to be put on Facebook, where the name of the person is revealed to all, but from all appearances, that is not the case.
Reportedly, the Globe is not dealing with many of the stories that generate multiple comments because of the time it takes to deal with them, or at least that is the story that has trickled out to the public.
It seems just as likely, since many of the stories that carry no comments are about issues in which the Globe has shown a clear preference in its editorials or in op-ed columns by Publisher Michael Beatty, that Globe officials are steering away from public discussion and are taking a pro-active role in promoting chosen issues (and those who favor those issues).
Evidence of that was shown a couple of years ago when Beatty shut down reporting that was critical of Bruce Speck and even sent Speck an e-mail telling the Missouri Southern State University president how to control coverage of the university and offering to meet with Speck and Globe Editor Carol Stark to go over ideas for positive coverage.
With hundreds of millions of dollars going through the city of Joplin now and through the coming years, now is the time for us to open a robust discussion and for the newspaper to not only foster that discussion, but also to be a watchdog for the community, not a cheerleader for the well-to-do.