Monday, December 11, 2006

Star's Double Standard In Township Coverage

The Star's attitude towards Carl Drummer's Fleecing of Center Township seems to be one of "hear no evil, see no evil." But it's always quick to the draw when it comes to any of the other townships, particularly those fighting the Mayor's fire consolidation plan. Today's target is Wayne Township and its decision to turn over its fire training center to a local school district. The township claims the move will save $200,000. It is more likely the transfer occurred to keep the outgoing Republican Trustee, Don Gammon, in charge of the facility. Gammon will be chairman of a nonprofit overseeing the training center, and his wife will be paid to run it.

The Wayne Township move is definitely worthy of scrutiny and doesn't pass the smell test by a long shot. It pales, however, in comparison to what Center Township Trustee Carl Drummer has been doing with taxpayers' money, including several allegations of criminal wrongdoing. While the IBJ did an exhaustive investigative piece detailing Drummer's misuse of township funds to build his own personal fiefdom, the Star has done zero reporting on Center Township's huge real estate portfolio and how it's being misused. It seems if you don't fit into the Star's personal agenda of seeing fire consolidation through, you get a pass on your misdeeds. If you fight its agenda, you get blasted on its editorial pages.


Anonymous said...

Triple-30's on that one!

I find it also amazing how Mayor Bart wants to dismantle the Township structure for everyone - everyone that is except Julia Carson's personal consort Carl Drummer.

Erin said...

AI- I think there is another point to be made here. Did I totally miss the Star actually reporting and investigating on Wayne township before they wrote this editorial? From the way they wrote the editorial it sounds very shady, it also presents zero information that gives actual context to Star readers. I'm a D, but I think that it would be good to actually hear from people involved, see some analysis as to whether there are any savings, interview with Mike Murphy, maybe, before taking the Star at its word. Granted, maybe I just missed this. But, IBJ did exhaustive investigating and interviewing before putting out their story. Why can't the Star do the same?

Jeff Newman said...

It seems if you don't fit into the Star's personal agenda of seeing fire consolidation through, you get a pass on your misdeeds.

Gary, I'm curious, why would the Star have a "personal" agenda on this issue? Just general sucking up to the administation in your opinion, or is there more to it?

Advance Indiana said...

Erin, you raise a good point. Sometimes the editorial staff does its own researching and, in effect, reporting through its editorial pages or at Expresso. RiShawn Biddle, for example, researched a number of things about the 300 East bar, which he reported at Expresso but never seemed to make it into the news stories Will Higgins did on the subject.

Advance Indiana said...

Jeff, the Star is on record favoring fire consolidation for all the township fire departments. It has been highly critical of anyone opposing consolidation. Recall that it withheld some endorsements in this past election over this very issue.

Advance Indiana said...

Note that I agree with the Star on consolidation of the fire departments.

Advance Indiana said...

I would point out a post over on Ruth Holladay's blog where she takes a look at a letter to the editor taking the Star to task for not delving deeper into the actual savings from consolidation. As we now know, the promised savings from the police consolidation appear to have pretty much evaporated as we prepare to make the transition next year. The criticsm was that the Star didn't challenge the claimed savings because it had editorialized in support of it.

Anonymous said...

The police savings has evaporated? Did I fall asleep for a few days and totally miss that "fact", or are you drinking the bong water from Indy Undercover? Or is that phoney CPA firm hired by Ricketts the source for these "lost savings" ?

This is the sound dinosaurs make when they become extinct. The (mostly Republican)township system is, finally, dying a slow and ardous death. Drummer will survive because he's Drummer. Duh. It's the best job he ever could or would have. Decent salary, free unmarked police car to drive around, complete with police powers via Mr. Duncan, and free storage space for his vehicle collection. And enough political power to bully anyone who gets in his way. He'll never let go of that gravy train. And it's so efficient. Riiiiight.

The Wayne Township story is deep in intrigue. A few years back, when there was an internal fight, Gammon atually told the taxpayers that the township did not own the fire equipment. He said it had been purchased through an exclusive services contract by an incorporated fire department, not the public entity. He said that with a straight (and angry) face and I think he actually prevailed.
They've built up quite a Republican machine over there in Wayne, largely thorugh this fire department and its patronage. It is a disgrace and a waste.

The last thing a stagnant school district needs is that much acreage to manage and cotnrol, especially if there's a sweetheat deal for Mrs. G. to run it.

Wayne hasn't increased in student population for years. Maybe they need a new school someday, but this is not the ideal site.

Lastly, and very sadly, I don't think The Star has enough institutional memory left to remember the abover-described fiasco. It occured, I believe, in 2003, and was well-documented in the paper at the time.

Anonymous said...

9:21 - just follow the money trail. And keep track of events as they unfold on Ch. 16 - There were several "assumptions" that did not come to fruition - the issue of Social Security is one. Cost overruns in areas like re-striping vehicles, uniforms, etc.

As much as you 'Rats want to pass the doobie around it's not going to change the fact the police consolidation was poorly managed and will NOT produce the once touted savings.

If Mayor Bart want to dispose of township government, then completely dispose of township government. Not just the GOP controlled ones.

Erin said...

Thanks AI- but, I have to tell you, I suspect the editorial board's "researching" came straight from a D talking points memo. That doesn't mean it is not true or even defensible. It just means that the Star ought to take that info for what it is worth and do it's own investigating. I learned more info to evaluate the Wayne Twp. situation from the last post (anonymous) then from the Star. If I want partisan persuasive arguments I can get them straight from the source, I don't need the Star regurgitating them as objective.

Anonymous said...

Just more examples of lack of institutional memory at the paper.

Hell, they DO have archives though. You'd think they'd read them.

Lazy reporting. Incomplete, lackluster or shodding editorial writing.

As if the entire metro area is waiting with baited breath on the newspaper editorial page's pronouncements from on high about these issues.

How fleaping arrogant. To have credibility to be able to editorialize, they'd need to work a little harder.

Otherwise, it's no better (or worse) that blog reading.

RiShawn Biddle said...

Actually Gary, we've been arguing for the elimination of township government -- incluidng Center Township -- far longer than your blog has been around (thank heavens for the Star's archives). In fact, last year, the Editorial Board wrote a piece detailing the poor bookkeeping and general inefficiency of the townships, including the poor bookkeeping by Center Township. This year, this page gave Drummer plenty of grief over 300 East. So your argument that somehow there is selective treatment of each township government is rather inane and not even worthy of more comment. And that is all.

Advance Indiana said...

No, Rishwawn, you're wrong. The IBJ scooped your newspaper on the Center Township story. Your newspaper has done nothing approaching the breadth and reach of that story.

Anonymous said...

Someone tell RiShawn the IBJ has been kicking The Star's journalistic tail like, well, the Jags kicked the Colts'.

Anonymous said...

Let's ease up on RiShawn. He's the closest thing to a good reporter/columnist they have. ANd as i've stated here many times, if he gets Amos Brown's dander up, he's worth his weight in gold.

And RiShawn, slow your roll on the defense of the paper.

You've been here, what, twon or three years? Your paper editorialized yesterday on the township system, and recited Wayne, I'm told. Do you know the history there? Does anyone at the Star know it? I didn't think so.

When you've been here five, get back with me. We'll talk. Because it'll take that long for your paper to live down its jornalistic slide. Lazy editing, reporting and writing are the norm. I like your columns, usually, even when I don't agree. They make me think.

I can say that about nothing--NOTHING--else in that paper. Yesterday's exercise in reading took a grand total of 18 minutes. A Sunday paper, yet.

And that included purusing the Home section.

IBJ regularly does better business reporting, and they come out once a week.

ruth holladay said...

With all due respect to RiShawn, Gary is correct: the Star has been totally lax about kicking the ass of the Center Township trustee, despite the fact that the story has captured a lot of minds. (And yes, the IBJ has eaten the Star's lunch on this topic -- to the point that many of us now consider the IBJ the best newspaper being published in Indy. More credence to that is the exodus of excellent reporters who've left the Star to go to IBJ).
RiShawn, as all readers of this blog know, was the only one at Gannett central to make a noise about 300 East and the Center's trustee's sneakiness if not law-breaking. (Will Higgins' reporting aside -- not exactly hard-hitting).
The Star's slant today -- chastizing Wayne and not Center for problems with the Wayne trustee, a Republican -- is what makes the editorial look like a Dem whisper campaign in a certain editor's ear if not a PR plug.
Expresso is OK for what it is, but it's just that: a quick often frothy shot, not a serious, indepth look at a problem. But then that's Gannett's game -- less reporters, more freelancers, less depth, more crap.
Sorry, but the fact that the Star has been lobbying for years, before RiShawn came on board, to change the corrupt trustee system scores no points. That's sorta a "welcome to the 21st century" issue. Yawn.

RiShawn Biddle said...

Ruth dear. At this point in the game, there's little I can say in regards to you that would be printable in Hustler, much less in a family blog. I would go through your entire text, pointing out the fact that Expresso has been a place for serious debate on topics from education to child welfare (check out the series of pieces on the reality of school choice and diversity in public schools for example), along with the editorial pages' focus on consolidation and township government.

But in all honesty, arguing with you is like arguing with brick walls. And I don't talk to brick walls.

Have a nice day.

Erin said...

From Rishawn Biddle's blog:

"UPDATE (8:18 a.m.): Apparently someone thinks that the editorial page (and the paper) is selective in its coverage, paying little heed to what happens in Center Township. Given the editorials and Expresso posts written about the proposed Carson Center bar since August, there are those who think we've overstated the case.

The real issue for these critics is that this editorial page and paper doesn't cover their pet issues as they see fit: Biased towards their point of view and heavily skewed towards covering those issues. If they were just more candid in arguing that instead of cloaking their viewpoints in some ""mom and the flag and apple pie" malarkey.

At least critics on both sides are reading, if they aren't actually comprehending and thinking. Thanks for ignoring the overall point of the editorial -- and for the page views."

Actually, Rishawn, a number of valid points have been made here, dismissing them really makes you the one who is not "comprehending and thinking". If you don't want to debate Ruth then actually answer some of the other comments.

fed up said...

Rishawn, loosen-up brotha. Most of us love your writing, why be so mean? We aren't here to fight each other, we are here to inform the community. I think we are doing a good job, each of us in our own way. Ruth, You, Advance Indiana...

Anonymous said...

What flavor of Kool-Aid are they serving at 307 N. Penn these days? You sure have been gulping it down.

ruth holladay said...

But RiShawn, you haven't addressed the concerns raised: why does the Star blister Wayne Township in its primo editorial slot while ignoring the problems in Center? Where is the coverage Center and the residents there deserve?
As for Expresso, nobody is fooled. In Gannett's own lingo, you are serving up "chunky nuggets."
Friends who have no axe to grind and read the paper daily say the Star has in effect forgotten the center city, except for covering murders, other crimes and IPS. The money is in the suburbs, which is where Gannett is putting its resources.
Care to comment on the issues? Or at least the concerns raised in this blog?
Thanks for reading....