• POOLE BECOMES COLUMNIST: In October, REASON editor Robert Poole, Jr. became a national newspaper columnist. More than 3000 newspapers have been offered his monthly column on ways that municipalities can cut the cost of governmental services.
The column, which is being financed by the National Taxpayers Union, is available free of charge to any newspaper with a circulation of less than 50,000. Poole plans to cover a variety of subjects, including the savings that result from privatization and performance contracting.
The column represents an attempt to make taxpayers more aware of ways to hold down local taxes. It is one of the services offered by the Local Government Center, a new organization formed by Poole and REASON's managing editor, Mark Frazier. The Santa Barbara-based Center has assembled an advisory board of experts in the field of municipal finance and public administration, including a number of libertarians.
Early in October, the Center threw a challenge to local government officials across the country. The Center, announcing a competition for annual "Tax Savings Awards," invited officials to send in information about any costcutting innovations they have made. Five communities will be selected for the awards in January by the Center's advisory board.
To be placed on the Center's mailing list for announcements and newspaper columns, send $5 per year to the Local Government Center, 221 West Carrillo, Santa Barbara, CA 93101.
• NEW FUND FOR JOURNALISTS: Santa Barbara is home to another promising new project, this one to encourage a harder look by journalists at the direct and hidden costs of governmental activities. Under the auspices of the Sabre Foundation, managing editor Mark Frazier has become director of a Journalism Fund that will commission articles about problems in the public sector.
Since becoming active in August, the Journalism Fund has raised several thousand dollars in seed money. By December, Frazier hopes the Fund will have about $40,000 to finance investigative reporting by young journalists. Substantial resources—between $1000 and $1500—are expected to be made available for each article. The features will be given free of charge to a variety of small magazines participating in the program.
As of mid-September, a number of distinguished journalists and editors had agreed to join the advisory board that will screen applications for the Sabre grants. Among the board members are John Chamberlain, a syndicated columnist; Alan Reynolds, a contributing editor of REASON; Robert Sherrill, Washington reporter for the Nation; Irving Kristol, editor of the Public Interest; and James Boyd, a contributing editor of the Washington Monthly. Many prominent libertarian, conservative, and liberal periodicals have expressed a desire to participate in the Sabre Fund program.
The Journalism Fund welcomes applications from libertarians who are under 30 years of age and have some experience in journalism. For information about how to apply, send a stamped, self-addressed envelope to the Sabre Foundation Journalism Fund, 221 West Carrillo, Santa Barbara, CA 93101, or call Frazier at 805/969-5767. The application deadline is January 1.
• LIBERTARIAN JOBS: As libertarian enterprises grow, there is a need for young talent in many organizations. Young libertarian activists are now being sought on the East and West coasts for work that offers little financial compensation, but plenty of worthwhile experience.
For those who have a desire to battle the big spenders in Washington, the National Taxpayers Union offers internships for students at $74 per week. The work, which can be eligible for graduation credits at many colleges, involves research into wasteful government spending, both in military and social programs. With more than 15 full and part-time workers already, NTU is one of the most effective vehicles for libertarians to influence the government.
The growing activism in the Santa Barbara, California area leaves room for an entrepreneurial young libertarian to make an imprint there. Besides REASON, the Sabre Journalism Fund, and the Local Government Center, two local publications offer potential employment in part-time capacities. One of the publications is a daily paper whose managing editor is a libertarian; the other, a business newsletter with a strong libertarian orientation. For information call Mark Frazier (805/969-5767) or write him at 1169 Summit Road, Santa Barbara, CA 93108.