Ins and outs of Platform

Comments about private business – whether positive or negative, signed or unsigned – are generally off limits for this page. That standard is adhered to by most newspapers.

But there are exceptions, the most usual being if a comment involves a public issue. That is the case for two comments about private business that appear in today’s People’s Platform.

One individual questions the new sign at Red Wing Amdahl Motors. The comment, in part, is directed toward city law: “If the zoning ordinance doesn’t prohibit a sign such as that, it certainly should be amended to do so.”

Another person asks about safety issues associated with the new Syverson Ford Mercury lot. The caller asked, “Isn’t putting new business on a hill and a curve defeating the purpose of what Red Wing is trying to do with its traffic problem?”

It should be made clear that both businesses followed all the appropriate public channels. The projects were approved by the City Council, including rezoning, variances and other conditions.

It’s not the first time we have permitted public comment involving a private business. Individuals complained when County Market asked that a portion of a street be vacated to accommodate store expansion. We published those. However, we did not publish comments about the project involving issues not in the public arena.

Indeed, we regularly receive comments about private issues that go unpublished. Some refer to businesses, such as customers frustrated about a store’s return policy or unhappy with service. Individuals have gripes about specific neighbors, too, such as a loud dog or a messy yard.

Those issues are best addressed by talking to the business or individual directly, or going through other appropriate channels. The Chamber of Commerce or Better Business Bureau might be suitable for a business complaint. City Hall might be the proper contact to address neighborhood issues.

If we believe a comment has some greater public value, we might publish the remark but leave it generic – taking out specific names.

There’s a down side to our policy, too. If we reject critical comments about issues which are deemed strictly private, we must apply the same standard to compliments. So you’ll unlikely read comments about such things as superb service or excellent food.

Yes, there are exceptions to that rule, too. If we deem a comment to be truly a spontaneous “bright spot” that speaks well for an entire community, we’ll consider publication. That was the rationale for printing the comment Wednesday in People’s Platform regarding a woman’s experience at Randys Restaurant.

Each comment is judged on an individual basis. As always, please call for an explanation of any of our newspaper policies.