as readers may recall my having been just the other day in discussion of a little 1890's publishing, (the bit about dow, jones and bergstresser and their little ongoing parlour trick with stock market numbers), it's a short hop towards strolling down memory lane with the likes of joe pulitzer and billy hearst, and timely given the recent flaxen hues dominant on the front page of the lowellow sun. see, back in the 90's, that is, the 1890's, pulitzer's new york world and hearst's new york journal would go tete a tete, or, actually, better put, mano a mano, or, better still, typewriter v typewriter, over the most lurid of fabrications that they competed to dream up in order to sell their newspapers and benefit their political benefactors. (both joe p and billy r h were props for the democrats, ironically enough, and widely credited for dual-handedly getting us mired into cuba and the spanish american war among many other populist misdeeds). the etymology for the term "yellow journalism" is a bit murky, but credit for the phrase is widely given to erwin wardman, editor of the new york press, american motors to hearst and pulitzer's gm and ford among the big apple broadsheets. mr wardman's famous quote explaining his usage of the term is that "we called them yellow because they are yellow".
and yellow indeed they were, though, in pulitzer's and hearst's defense, they, unlike, say, the lowell sun, actually invested in legitimate journalism, and used their boosted circulation to pay for it, but let's not digress.
to wit we can consider yet another edition of the seemingly never-ending "story" about the LHA brouhaha, with today's strident headline being about the "critical audit", and "LHA leadership" being "questioned". (granted, alternatives included a pepperell man striking two cars in a parking lot, so we can at least consider that when there are barely any actual reporters on staff, there's understandably barely any actual reports from which to choose ones headlines, but, again, we shouldn't digress). in this installment, of course, as we always do in every one of these little tawny offerings, we find repeat of the canard that "lha may have to repay the federal government more than $11.4 million", which is the mantra the yellow sun's yellow editors would have us swallow each and every morning like a little and bright yellow pill with our morning orange juice. (orange juice is almost yellow, and a nod to melvern taylor's "two little bottles of beer" for the "bright yellow pill" bit).
once again, and for the record:
the feds' audit of the LHA encompasses paperwork related to $11.4 million in spending for projects and materials to add housing stock to LHA's inventory. in their audit, the feds themselves confirm that the "quality of the work appeared good", and leave the question of incomplete and/or missing paperwork to substantiate the LHA's use of "force account labor" instead of putting certain work out to bid with general contractors. this would be, of course, analogous to your hiring that carpenter you know to put in your back deck, paying for the lumber yourself, and tossing that carpenter a certain number of bucks per hour for the hours it took them to put it in, as opposed to putting an ad in the paper looking for construction company to come in and bid the work as a project. and i'm not sure if you've hired any carpenters and/or builders lately, but GC's typically add 30% to 40% to any estimate (bare minimum 25%) for their services, after which they hire that carpenter they know, pay for the lumber themselves, and toss that carpenter a certain number of bucks per hour for the hours it took them to put in the deck--the key question being the quality of the materials and the carpenter involved.
if we are to believe that the LHA knows a good carpenter, (the feds themselves, to repeat myself just a little bit, declared the work to be "good"), it's obvious that the force account labor approach is faster, cheaper and easier, at least to anyone with common sense and experience paying for construction. however, to be fair, if the LHA doesn't know a good carpenter, or paid that carpenter more than they deserved because the money to pay for the deck came from your mother-in-law or what have you, then there would, indeed, be a legitimate problem to be discussed.
think we're discussing that here?
the sun wants us to fixate on the $11.4 million deck, and not the truth that the only remaining question posed by the feds is whether or not the force labor was more or at least as cost-effective as bidding out those jobs would have been. the penalty if it's not? not $11.4 million. not even remotely close. the consequence, should paperwork not be submitted according to HUD hoyle, is that the difference between the amount spent and the amount that should have been spent is returned to the feds as any reasonable taxpayer would insist.
which brings me back to wondering if paying a carpenter by the hour is more or less cheap than paying a GC to pay them...
what do you think?
anyway, the yellow headline writers at the yellow sun don't want us thinking about that part. they want us fixated on opinions and quotes and outright falsehoods (e.g. there being no way that $11.4 million is at risk here--that's just the total invested by LHA in projects for which the feds have asked for more paperwork) so that we don't actually think about what's really going on.
exploits. distorts. exaggerates.