We sometimes kid around about ''the power of the press.''
Newspapers and other mass communications media do have power, but it is far more limited than people think. We can't do much to motivate people to vote. We have tried, but, at least on the national level, look at what the Democrats and Republicans give us to work with.
We can, however, produce a crowd.
Just suppose we published a Page One story headlined, ''City of DuBois plans to close two fire stations.''
I can guarantee a crowd of hundreds at the next council meeting. In DuBois, firefighting is a family tradition handed down for generations ever since the ''Great Fire of 1888'' leveled a good portion of the business district.
But we won't publish that story, not even as an April Fool joke. Fire is nothing to kid around about.
The Good Life
Dog doo-doo, though ... hmm.
In St. Cloud, Minn., a management company runs 25 apartment complexes. It is a private operation, with lease restrictions, something like the deed restrictions accompanying properties in nearby Treasure Lake, a private, gated community.
One of those restrictions requires people who move into the complexes, or people who live there now and get a dog as a pet, to provide a DNA sample from the dog, using a cheek swab.
The company then tests offending piles of dog doo-doo for DNA - they really do - and fines the owners, on a sliding scale, first offense, second offense, third offense. Scripps Howard News Service, which reported on the story, didn't say whether anyone has been evicted, but the company and many tenants say the use of DNA has made a noticeable difference for the better in their neighborhoods.
People now clean up after their dogs.
So suppose, just suppose, we published a story headlined, ''Treasure Lake to require DNA samples from residents' dogs.''
Would there be a crowd at the next meeting of that community's board of directors?
My guess is ''Yes.''
But I don't think that they would be there to protest.
Instead, I would bet that most people who have an opinion about whether a private ownership entity ought to do this would answer with a resounding ''YES!''
We don't like doggie doo-doo.
Me, now, I don't mind it - but we have nearly 30 acres of land and just two dogs. They go ''way out there'' in the field, and it's not much of a problem.
For me, I would wish that DNA samples would be required from another species, one I consider to be vermin.
That's right: Cats.
Again, I don't have a cat problem these days because the half-dozen cats on our land are ours, and they chase off, injure or kill venturesome strangers or dropped-off felines, abetted by the dogs.
But when I was a ''townie,'' I used to say bad words about cats every spring.
Once the snow melted, there would be poo piles from dogs, ours when we had one, neighbors' or strays whether we had one or not.
But those doggie doo-doo piles would be out in the open, cleanable if one chose, or mowable if one preferred that method. I am not divulging my preference here, except to note that a riding mower does not throw doggie doo-doo onto its operator, and a garden hose works wonders after the first spring mowing.
Cat doo-doo, however ... cats hide theirs.
So I would stir the mulch beneath the shrubs and ... Yuck!
You can't find cat doo-doo by looking for it. You find it by trying to make your place look nice.
I would have paid $20 myself for a definitive DNA match with neighbors' cats back when I was a mulch-stirrer.
So ... ought Treasure Lake to do something like this? For that matter, should operators of all sorts of private developments, ranging from apartments to assisted living complexes, require DNA matches?
I doubt that public-sector governments can require DNA samples, but ... waitaminnit.
Can't the county treasurers collect DNA samples along with the annual licenses? Charge an extra $20 or so for the first license. No need to keep on testing; DNA does not change from year to year.
With DNA, there would be no evading the blame as to which Fido did doo-doo where it was a don't-don't.
I really don't know whether requiring DNA samples of licensed dogs would be a good idea or not.
What I do know is that if and when a local government or private entity decides to start to require the samples, the debate will draw a crowd.
Denny Bonavita is the editor and publisher of McLean Publishing Co. in west-central Pennsylvania, including the Courier-Express in DuBois.