Blogger Jim Zoetewey had this to say about the Local Area Watch this weekend: "It's tagline is 'reporting the news the news won't report in Western Michigan.' It seems to be a blog devoted to reporting on things the author doesn't like about various organizations and individuals in Grand Rapids."
Well, that's not entirely true (for example, see the article on Catherine's Care Center), but it's true enough. But I'm not sure what there is to like about a medical examiner who derails an investigation involving a business he has on the side, city attorneys helping to defend on the taxpayer's dime private developers who dumped twenty thousand tons of hazardous waste next to a residential neighborhood, a mayor who took a campaign contribution from a lobbying firm and then gave it a big city contract, the executives of Old Kent who ruined the bank to make it ripe for acquisition by Fifth Third and then land top jobs there, an alleged billionaire who has been slipping his hand into every public and non-profit pocket he can reach to finance the work-out of his Ponzi scheme, and a local media that won't touch any of these stories with a ten-foot pole.
I'm sure that Mr. Zoetewey doesn't like any of this either. But in the wake of last week's gas-baggery of blogging law students, I'm a little puzzled. What sensible objection is there to an ordinary citizen making a noise about the professional, ethical, and even criminal misconduct of those who make a claim upon the public purse or trust -- especially when the establishment prefers to turn a blind eye to these things? It's not a pleasant business, but what is the alternative to the vigilance of private citizens? Who else guards the guards? Empowered by the internet and with the means to act, what is the excuse for not calling to account those who act in our name?
There isn't, for the reason I stated today to a regular reader about such objections to this enterprise: "Yes, it's naive to believe that there is no corruption ... however it's never naive to be outraged by it. To not be is cynical, and cynicism is a cop-out. It is a surrender of virtue to vice."