Was 2010 a strange year, or was it just me?
By strange, I guess I mean from a news story point of view.
This week the Register presents its annual choices for the Top 10 News Stories of the year, for 2010.
As usual, making the choices is never easy.
First, we read through all the 52 editions of the Register published during 2010. We make lists of many of the major news stories in each week’s paper.
Then, it is a matter of narrowing them down to 20 or so, combining some stories into one grouping, or eliminating others from contention altogether.
Then, it is time to figure out which is No. 1, No. 2, etc. Just when we figure they are in the proper order, we look again and make some changes.
It is all arbitrary, of course. Arguments can always be made for a different order – or other stories on the list.
I also keep my eye out for that strange story, which may or may not be on the final list (probably not) but which was so interesting in an odd sort of way, that I wonder what we should do with it.
Some are stories that never developed into something major. Some were just off the wall, or curiously different, or just plain wrong.
To give you an idea of what I am referring to, here is a prime example.
Wells City Administrator Jeremy Germann verbally resigned during a City Council meeting.
Did he really mean it?
We felt duty bound to report the remark, but then we were forced to continue to follow the story until, weeks later, we could report that he never issued a formal written letter of resignation, and, as of this writing, is still at work in Wells.
There was the story of the wording for the ward elimination question on the ballot in Blue Earth, followed by the question of whether the non-votes were also no-votes.
It reminded me of the hanging chad problem in Florida a few years ago. They had trouble determining if someone voted on something or not, if the tab was not totally punched out (thus becoming a hanging chad).
That fiasco determined who was elected president of the United States.
Locally, oddities included the Blue Earth City Council opting to fill one open position on their board, but not another. Or the Wells Council making a deal for a councilman to resign.
But, in an odd twist of irony, his name remained on the November ballot for a chance at re-election.
How about the fact that we ran three separate stories, at three different times of the year, concerning discharge of firearms in a city? It happened in Kiester, then Winnebago, and also in Blue Earth.
I think I detect a pattern, but, I am not sure of what.
One disturbing pattern this past year was governmental bodies stonewalling the media, and refusing to release information, and names of persons falling under investigation.
Because, when they don’t tell us, it means they are withholding information the public has a right to.
In Wells, for instance, a very expensive probe into allegations concerning two city employees ended with little release of information or names.
If public funds are being spent, the public has a right to know what it is being spent on.
But I digress from the ‘odd stories of 2010’ theme.
What could be more strange than a city councilman threatening to sue the council he serves on? (Is he suing himself?) Or two councilmen going on their own to tell the FAA not to accept a proposal from the very council they serve on?
It was an odd year.
The sheriff rode a bull, a deputy was charged with theft, a charter school may still be in the planning stages in Winnebago, and the former treatment center there might become a veterans’ home.
Meanwhile, a Jewish school in Bricelyn may open – although we also ran a story more than a year ago saying it was opening then, and it never did.
Ah, well, such is life at the newspaper office. And, I don’t mean the National Enquirer.
Some news is so strange we have to say, “You can’t make this stuff up!”