Friday, March 27, 2009

Plain Dealer: Praise for corruption probe

TALES OF TWO NEWSPAPERS:  Thursday's Plain Dealer gave  readers further evidence of the critical need for  sustaining the hometown press.  The PD's cascading Page One story told of the resignation of Cuyahoga County Sheriff Gerald McFaul, one of many targets of a corruption probe in which the paper has played a relentless role.  As the forceful print next to McFaul's picture noted: Longtime sheriff received envelopes stuffed with  cash from employes. And beneath that: More than a dozen Plain Dealer reports in 2009 revealed McFaul's pattern of misconduct.   (It ain't bragging when you can produce such results!)  

To the right of the McFaul story was another headline:  Building inspector to admit to bribery, courtesy of the Feds' multifaceted corruption probe.  In this instance, the PD said, Richard Huberty  "is accused of taking  bribes and shaking down business owners..."  His lawyer said Huberty will plead guilty. 

Had enough?  Not quite.  On the Metro page of Thursday's paper, there was a piece about a Parma schools real estate consultant who was fired from his $1,500 a month job after the paper started asking questions about his contract for which he "did little".  Parma school superintendent Sarah Zatik told the PD:  "I'm furious, I don't believe he is performing any service right now..."  Added Bruce Basalla, the school treasurer when the PD inquired: "I can't tell you what he's done.  I feel stupid for not being able to do that."

Well, it is Cuyahoga County and a lot of stupid things have been done under its zip codes.  But it is fair to ask:  How much would we know about this if there were no papers?  The broadcasters would hardly spend a tiny fraction taking up the slack.  TV is largely a hit-and-run exercise and commercial radio spends most of its time yakking without substance. Without aggressive newspapers, the political deer and antelope will range freely - and play to their hearts content.   Count on it.

Oh, I did mention two newspapers at the start of this post.  A Page One story in Friday's Beacon  Journal reported how the stimulus money will be spent in the Akron area.  The headline said the city's Y-bridge will be fenced.  And the subhead noted, Some call plan wasteful. Fair enough, so far.  But reading the entire report (quite long) to learn who objected  enough to merit recognition in the headline,  I found  the only reference to wasteful spending was near the end of the story which said: 
"Some would argue Akron's Y-Bridge project would be a waste.   One person, responding to a request for stimulus comments on Akron's Web Site, wrote, 'Please do not build a fence on the Y-Bridge.'"
 One anonymous person snags the headline?  You lost me.  


Bargain Hunter said...

It was great seeing meaningful action taken on behalf of the public due to the work of a daily newspaper.

Here's hoping Northeast Ohio is never without a print newspaper.

I noticed you have a list of links to Northeast Ohio blogs, have you come for a look at NE Ohio Bargain Hunter?

If you can find a spot for me let me know and I'll get a link back plugged in. Just write a comment on one of the posts.

tom moore said...

Hey Abe:

All I gotta say is, Amen, Amen.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone stopped to wonder if Sarah Zatik stomped on the real estate deal so quickly to make herself look good? What do we really know about "Dr." Zatik's business practices? She is after all collecting retirement AND a paycheck from the City of Parma.