Saturday, September 28, 2013

Why Does Star Reporter Jon Murray Keep Derogatorily Referring To Christine Scales As "Rogue"?

In case you haven't noticed it, the Indianapolis Star's city hall beat reporter, Jon Murray, does nothing more than write press releases for the 25th floor. The idea of viewing himself as an "outsider" when reporting on matters happening in city government seems foreign to him. Being a city hall beat reporter to him means writing whatever curries favor with the administration of Mayor Greg Ballard. Whistle blowers complain that he ignores news tips involving anything negative about Ballard's administration.

In his coverage of Councilor Christine Scales' ongoing differences with Ballard and some of our her Republican colleagues, Murray has repeatedly referred to Scales as a "rogue" councilor, a derogatory term the national media used incessantly to describe former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin in an effort to discredit her. Murray's contribution to this week's "Behind Closed Doors" column, which was once worth the read before the newspaper became a Gannett-owned piece of trash, used the word "rogue" to describe Scales again because she refused to go along with Ballard's plan to resurrect the elimination of the homestead property tax credit, a property tax increase on homeowners the Gannett newspaper supports. For the record, the Star has supported every tax increase that has been considered by the City-County Council since it has been owned by Gannett.
At Monday’s council meeting, Republicans launched a last-bid attempt to revive the mayor’s credit elimination proposal by moving to add it to the agenda.
Council member Will Gooden’s motion failed 15-12, with all Democrats present voting no, along with Republican Christine Scales, a sometimes-rogue member whom her caucus expelled earlier this month.
That meeting was the council’s final chance to revive Ballard’s Plan A because of state-imposed deadlines for changes to county income tax spending each year, the mayor’s office says. A slice of income taxes pay for the property tax credit.
So even if Ballard were to use his line-item veto power to try to reverse or hinder the Democrats’ budget changes, he likely would need a new fall-back plan.
Let's be clear. If Murray had any objectivity in his reporting, he would use a more respectable adjective to describe her, such as "independent" or "fiscally conservative."  After all, isn't calling a Republican councilor "rogue" because she opposes a property tax increase on homeowners a bridge too far? Is the reporter unaware that Scales is only holding true to the same positions held by Mayor Ballard and other Republican councilors when they sought to oust Ballard's predecessor, Bart Peterson and his Democratic-controlled council, in the 2007 municipal elections? Murray never reported the facts concerning the vote to expel Scales from the caucus. If he had, he would have known that the vote to expel her from the caucus was far from being a unanimous vote.

As an aside, Murray has also reported very negatively on Brian Mahern, an independent voice on the council within the Democratic Party. Oddly, Murray and the Star appear not to share Mahern's views of public transparency. Because Mahern has persistently sought public records concerning the dollar value of Colts and Pacers tickets being handed out by the Mayor's Office and the Capital Improvement Board and the amount of money being spent by Develop Indy on Mayor Ballard's numerous overseas junkets and the source of those expenditures, he seems to have fallen out of favor with the downtown mafia. The Star implicitly supports the suppression of this information from public scrutiny and doesn't mind using its newspaper to discredit Mahern. It's hard to believe that the Star once upon a time used to go to court to force the disclosure of this type of information as it did when it sued the ICVA to force disclosure of its records back in the early 1990s. Suffice it to say that the Star and its reporters have become enemies of the taxpaying public.

UPDATE: It looks like someone at the Star is reading this blog. The online version of the column has been revised from its original version to describe Scales as "a Republican with an independent streak" rather than as a "rogue member" and referring to her expulsion from her caucus as "punishment":
Council member Will Gooden’s motion failed 15-12, with all Democrats present voting no, along with Christine Scales, a Republican with an independent streak who was expelled by her caucus earlier this month as punishment.


Marycatherine Barton said...

Ah yes, it should be noted that when covering City Hall for the Gannett Star, Jon Murray is an impassioned insider.

CircleCityScribe said...

Christine Scales is the one councilor who speaks for the constituency. She is not about "pay-to-play". It's called leadership! She is doing the right things for the right reasons.

I wish she would run for mayor.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone read the Star?

Nobody would mind or notice if they folded the paper.

Flogger said...

You mentioned on your Blog the Guardian's Article on Seymour Hersh concerning the state of American Journalism.

His critique of American Journalism rings true here too.
"It's a packaged journalism, so you pick a target like – I don't mean to diminish because anyone who does it works hard – but are railway crossings safe and stuff like that, that's a serious issue but there are other issues too.

I never thought much of the Pulliam Press ownership either. They always seemed to have glowing, fluff pieces on Goldsmith-Press release journalism. The Star today has just boiled, purified and distilled their unquestioning obedience to Corporatism and Crony-Capitalistism and their front men and woman in elected office.

The Star attempts to diminish Mahern and Scales, by labeling them as "rogues" is a part of the process. If you cannot refute the facts vilify the messengers.

Pete Boggs said...

It appears Mr. Welsh, that you've become a valued but uncompensated Senior Editor of the Scar.

There's at least hope in the possibility of correction. We all need it & if you're never wrong, can you ever be right?