I think NCJ generally does a terrific job handling controversial subjects. In the recent cover story on school bonds and lease-leaseback financing, however, NCJ crossed the line into sensationalizing ("The $50 Million Henhouse," Aug. 27). The headline "$50 million Henhouse" and the tagline "controversial and legally questionable contracts" superimposed over a photo of the Eureka City Schools admin building convey an image of pettiness, waste and incompetence. Yet the story itself paints a more balanced picture of the pros and cons of the lease-leaseback financing method.
The story's lead featured critical quotes from John Fullerton, a former ECS board member and a CPA. But only near the end of the story do we read Fullerton's important balancing comment: "[ECS Superintendent] Fred Van Vleck is the best and I trust him to make sure the bond monies aren't wasted."
Tens of thousands people saw "$50 million henhouse" and "controversial and legally questionable contracts" on the cover of your print edition — and more will continue to see it online. Yet only those readers who persist through 4,000 words of in-depth reporting on the complex topic of school construction financing will learn that lease-leaseback financing is common in California and that ECS has a strong rationale for using it.
Jim Hight, Eureka