I thought I was the only one kidding about a newspaper bailout. It turns out popular conservative political columnist Michelle Malkin also joked about it. But then a few politicians got into the act and decided to suggest a newspaper bailout for real.


"The Republican governor and the Democratic attorney general of Connecticut went on the record last week in support of government intervention for failing local newspapers," Malkin wrote in a Dec. 3 column for the Jewish World Review.


But as Malkin correctly asserts, "How 'free' can a 'free press' be if it is leveraged with government funding?"


I suggest the newspaper industry continue to do what it's already doing: cut the fat, foster innovation - and deal with reality.


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Speaking of innovation, the Hesperia Chamber is changing its dues structure to better meet the needs of its members. Instead of charging dues based on the number of employees a business has, the new plan consists of five levels of options. Members can choose a tier that fits their needs.


It sounds like a promising idea.


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Every time I hear about a crime in Victorville's Old Town area I can't help but believe there is a lack of leadership there. While many Old Town areas in Southern California are seeing revivals, Victorville's seems mired in blight. How sad.


But merely throwing money at it won't solve the problem. It takes personal involvement. That means Victorville City Council members should see it as their jobs to occasionally walk Old Town streets, buy a Coke, and chat with store owners and residents. Just being there covers a multitude of bureaucratic shortcomings.


And why aren't any businesses that could draw consumers going in there? How about asking them? Why doesn't Victorville go to Starbucks, Coldstone and the like and ask, "What do we need to do to bring you into Old Town?" After learning what it takes, simply do it. That will help turn Old Town Victorville around. And that would be good news for the entire Victor Valley.


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Old Town isn't the only place where Victorville has challenges. The city's 2006-07 budget audit is a year late. What's up with that?


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One of our new neighbors at the Hesperia Plaza owned by High Desert Primary Care Center on Main Street is Bodacious Bundts, which is run by longtime restaurateur Shelly Sullivan. One recent morning I had a fresh-out-of-the oven coconut macaroon. I'm telling you, this is one of the best things I've ever tasted. Wow!