Monday, July 14, 2008

Undocumented

We all know there are illegal and undocumented immigrants in the city, but I'm wondering about the specific evidence Larry Parker has about the status of the particular group of Latinos on Centre St. I mean, when someone says "Latino" or "Hispanic" or "Spanish," within a beat or two is the word "Illegal" or "Undocumented." Again, I'm not disputing that this happens, and Parker isn't the only person in the world who is guilty of this, but I just can't help but wonder about the real stats. And for a journalist ("award-winning"* or otherwise) to blatantly suggest in print, without any supporting references or background, that a large group of people on Centre Street is not legal is a) completely irresponsible, and b) racist.

This bit about the legal status of the Hispanic residents on Centre Street was mentioned in the second sentence of Parker's most recent anti-Trenton diatribe in the Trentonian. Parker was writing about the litter on Centre Street, and may not have been flat-out wrong about the litter there — at least while he was visiting. But, it could have been any street in this city; we all know this. Right now, my street looks good, but it's just a matter of time before some pig (to borrow LA's terminology) uses my corner to unload his/her McDonald's trash, or the knuckleheads up the street decide to order some pizza and strew what's left — food, paper, etc. — all over the place. There are WAY too many people in our supposed "Green City" who don't care about litter, for a variety of reasons, and it does drive me crazy, because littering just doesn't make sense, and it is UNENDING. I certainly would prefer if more residents cared more. But I've written about this quite a bit, and it's not my point today.

So, to get back on track, that Parker chose Centre Street is significant, though, and it's for the reason that's many people have already mentioned: he did it as a way to dig at South Ward Councilman Jim Coston, who lives on Centre Street. Parker does get his own space to write his opinions a couple times a week, and because we live in a society that values free speech, I can't expect to agree with him all the time (or maybe ever). He is completely up Mayor Palmer's ass, and that's his right as an opinion writer, as sickening as that is. But, he is also a reporter, and when he writes a basic news story, he does okay. I just wonder where the hell his integrity goes when he goes into columnist mode? News people (including columnists and editors), historically (though maybe theoretically in recent years???), have been the voice of the people, not the politicians: the story of how the printing press brought news and books and religious text to the masses for the first time proves this: information is empowering, and allows us equal footing with our leaders, who are not appointed by God, or elected for life, at least not in the First World. But, somehow, despite this glorious, empowering history, Parker is the voice of Palmer, a politician of the worst kind: a mayor for life, or at least until some bigger career opportunity comes along. And we all know Mayor Palmer most likely dislikes Coston, based on Coston's voting record, and the fact that until Coston joined Council, Palmer enjoyed complete, autocratic rule because council was just his rubber stamp. This political brown-nosedness, and the unsubstantiated, undocumented remarks about the legal status of an entire group of people on Centre Street, is what makes Parker's piece so despicable.

That Larry Parker can continue to get away with writing a shit column week after week also showcases the overall lack of decent newspaper writing anymore. Trenton is one of the few cities in this entire country with TWO competing dailies, and for its size, that is remarkable (most cities in the US may have more than one paper, but all of the papers are owned by the same company. Read more about this phenomenon here). Save for a precious few reporters, this city is covered by a cadre of lame-ass writers who just don't give a crap about what's really happening in the city, and Parker is one of them. The newspaper industry is in a tough spot right now, but these individuals are in such a pivotal place to prove themselves...there is SO much interesting stuff here, and the stories do not wind up in print. There's no legitimate excuse, either: both Trenton papers are full of fluff and wire stories, and, in the case of the Trentonian, it's also full of Larry Parker's race-baiting, Coston-hating bullshit. Both papers have the space to cover EVERYTHING that happens here. Plus, I find it slightly incomprehensible that anyone would choose to be a reporter and then not want to be the best...for his/her own sake, even if they do work for a shit company. I hope that more reporters step up to the plate before their papers fold, or have more lay-offs, or they, as individuals, otherwise descend into irrelevancy.

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*I have deleted most of my postscripted bile about the award/s that LA Parker has won, because I do want to keep it factual, and really, I don't know much about the awards LA has won, except that one of them was possibly for his contribution to a piece which had other contributors. Maybe he has won other awards? If so, good for him: maybe he has plaques and trophies and certificates; you know, something to look at which may give him pride, since his column archives are so damn shameful.

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