Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Can We Get It in Writing?

In today's story about Social Security numbers:

"One requirement is for government agencies to have a written policy statement notifying the public ... "

"... notify the public that the city collects Social Security numbers for specific written reasons ..."

"... may not collect Social Security numbers ... unless they provide a written explanation ..."

"...may not collect a Social Security number unless the purpose ... is stated in writing. "

Okay, so the staff writer can't write very well. The reporting part of the job-with-benefits could also use some attention from a friendly editor, willing to question the copy. Here's what our man on the scene passes off as the rest of the story. We call it The Art of Reporting Nothing ...

... City staff had prepared a proposed resolution for the council's consideration. Council member Robert Heine Sr. motioned approval of the resolution, but the motion died for lack of a second.
... Councilmember Lorenzo Dixon said he took issue with some of the wording.
... With the motion dead, the council was perplexed.
... The law says a policy must be adopted by Jan. 31, adivsed City A
ttorney David Holloman. "But the law doesn't say we have to use this language, does it?" asked Dixon.
... "No," said Holloman. He said the council could modify the resolution. "This is not an ordinance."
... The council then went on to revise the wording in the proposed resolution to meet the approval of the council. The final vote was unanimous

Please, what wording so perplexed five adults? What did they change that mystery wording to? What takes a dead-for-lack-of-a-second and turns it into a unanimous vote?

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