Saturday, June 25, 2011

Over the river and out of the frying pan

... and through the woods and into the fire, or something like that. Quite a bit is going on in today's top story:

After another month behind bars, Kwame Kilpatrick is likely off to Texas to start his 24-month parole.

Pop quiz: Has "another month behind bars" ended yet?

The ex-mayor of Detroit, who kept his nose and record clean while in state custody after violating probation, was approved for parole Friday with release set for sometime after July 24. A move to Texas to reunite with his wife and three sons was part of the plan submitted at his parole hearing, said his lawyer, James Thomas.

OK, got it. "Another month" has just started. Having pulled off one syllepsis in the main hed, though, did we need another in the second graf?

... Still pending, however, are 19 federal tax-related charges, some carrying maximum 20-year prison sentences.

"I'm sure from his perspective, it's cause for celebration, but he's jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire," Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson said. "He's got to face federal judges now, so any uncorking would be premature."

True enough, even if it sounds like an odd reading of the "out of the frying pan" cliche. But since we've just said that Kilpatrick still faces 19 federal charges, what makes a supplemental explanation from the Oakland County* executive worth one of the six grafs making up the 1A part** of the story?

Not all Detroiters agreed Friday with the assessment of resident Eddie Hawthorn, 49, who said Kilpatrick "did more damage than he did good." But many agreed he needs to finally pay off his $1-million restitution.

I'm sure that "not all Detroiters" agree with any one assessment of this sort. Wonder what public opinion looks like in the full version inside?

Several Detroiters interviewed downtown Friday evening were divided.

"Everybody deserves a second chance," said Robert Turner, 36. He said he didn't like Kilpatrick's ethics, but "he served his time. ... The best gift you can do for somebody is the gift of forgiveness."

June Lindsey, 42, disagreed.

"He absolutely should not have been paroled," she said "He's a criminal like any other. He should've done his five years flat out.

"Look at what he did to the city," Lindsey added.

I'd be happy to stipulate that trying to actually measure public opinion on this issue in time for the morning paper would have been a colossal waste of time, space, effort, money and pretty much any other resource a newsroom has. So what's the point of finding a couple of (non)random people downtown to offer "divided" views -- just to show that there's a range of allowable opinion on the topic?

This bit of 1A billboarding strikes me as unusual, because it manages to get in so many features of a full story: florid writing, appeals to outside authority, and the wisdom of the common man. I'd rather just jump the story and put that effort into something else. Money back if not delighted with that advice.

* Detroit's in Wayne County, and it was the Wayne prosecutor that Kilpatrick was apparently making derogatory remarks about after court --- which could lead one to wonder if his nose was actually kept as clean as his record.
** In the online version linked here, the 1A segment is the part before the first subhed.

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