Thursday, May 08, 2008

Is Bennett a Bad Sam-aritan?

This is another question from my interview with Lehigh Valley congressional candidate Sam Bennett. It belongs in its own category.

Question: Are you a Bad Sam-aritan? Your website claims that "we, as a country, have a responsibility to look out for each other." But 78 year old newspaper delivery man, Ali Arkin, claims you ignored him when he was mugged outside your house along his route. He had two black eyes, was suffering from a few kidney punches and asked you to dial 911. He claims you agreed to do so, but no police or ambulance ever came. Arkin amazingly finished his route and then called police. He was scolded for not calling sooner, but told police that Siobhan had promised him she would do so. The responding officer checked with the dispatcher and subsequently told Mr. Arkin that no call had been received from you. Is Mr. Arkin mistaken? Didn't you have a responsibility to look out for him?


"I broke up that mugging. What are you talking about? I've even called in stabbings. We are the first ones to call in disturbances. He [Ali] was getting mugged on my front steps, and I went outside in my pajamas and broke it up. I made sure he was OK. I told him to stop delivering the paper in the dark. He was traumatized. I stayed in communication with him throughout that whole thing. I was not the one who called the dispatcher. I get my paper later now. I told him not to deliver until it is lighter."

I later received an email from Bennett asking me to add this to her original answer.

"Living as we do next door to the Hotel Traylor, my husband and I over the years have found ourselves calling the police frequently about stabbings, gunshots, street fights and more. When I jumped out of bed and flung open the front door of our home early that morning, I incorrectly assumed it was yet another drunken interaction on our front steps. My response was to admonish the misbehavers and send them home. I did not know that our newspaper man had actually been mugged until the next day when he and I spoke on the phone. I’m glad I opened my door and hopefully prevented further harm from being committed in response to the noise I heard. But in hindsight I wish that I had known what was really happening, because in that event I would have called the police.”

26 comments:

A.J. Cordi said...

It's funny how the story changes with a prepared statement.

michael molovinsky said...

This morning readers can see it's much better to be appreciated by o'hare than interrogated. Elaborations by bennett are portrayed as contradictions, while cunningham is unquestionably allowed to take credit for things he had nothing to do with. none of the weekly press conferences on steel land came to fruition when don was mayor. He allowed the union in cedarbrook without the usual ballot vote, but last week the county controller partially contributed the overtime costs at the nursing home to it being unionized. Bennett lives directly behind and closest to the traylor. previous disturbances there were sufficient enough for the LCB to close the bar.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Elaborations by bennett are portrayed as contradictions,

MM, First, let me make clear this series of posts has nothing to do with Don Cunningham, who believes in Bennett and supports her. I had another post dealing with Cunningham just today, and you could have plastered him there for his weekly press conferences, which might also be considered a way to remain accouintable to the people who elected him. Second, the above statement is garbage. I "portrayed" nothing. I simply reported what Bennett told me without editorial comment. When I spoke with Bennett, I told her to feel free to email me if she wanted to revise, replace or add to an answer. In this case, she sent me an email asking me to add the second explanation to her first.

I've also told Ms. Bennett to feel free to contact me if she feels I have failed to report accurately her remarks. I took very detailed notes, but am no professional reporter.

Oh, for Pete's sake! said...

Elaborations by bennett are portrayed as contradictions--Michael Molovinsky

Please read the post again, Mr. Molovinsky. Her elaborations are in fact not only contraditions, they do not address the larger concern that Mr. Arkin reportedly asked Ms. Bennett to call 911 for help, and she did not. If Mr. O'Hare were truly interrogating Ms. Bennett, wouldn't there be more reiteration of this accuasation, and a longer blog entry that included his own words interpreting the incident, as opposed to Ms. Bennetts own interview and email comments?

Additionally, I fail to see how Mr. Cunningham has anything at all to do with this mugging in Allentown, nor how living near the Hotel Traylor gives Ms. Bennett some sort of pass on calling 911 for a crime victim in front of her house.

michael molovinsky said...

bernie and pete's sake, i purposely contrasted the articles on bennett and cunningham. in the cunningham article he implies he had something to do with the recent success at bethworks; in reality although he gave countless press conferences there as mayor, none of the projects he announced were ever built. the posting on cunningham is virtually a press release, taking every one of his statements at face value. on the other hand, bennets proximity to the traylor has caused her to react repeatedly to problems from the hotel. in both statements she made to bernie, she states she did not call police. one version implies she knew the victim was her paperman, the other implies she didn't know who was involved, but in both versions she believed her opening the door suffixed in ending the commotion. there are many people who wouldn't even open the door. to me the issue is are we looking to find fault or give credit. i will continue to post here, if allowed, inserting what i believe is another POV. i note that pam v. is referring people to these posts, and has herself dug up articles on the POM salary controversy which are almost a year old. bernie, the cunningham comments are not off topic, they were made as contrast to treatment given bennett. by coincidence there is currently an ad on tv about elections for unionization not requiring secret ballot, showing some mafia types intimidating voters, that is the exact way cunningham unionized cedar-book, and then used the existence of the union to justify budget overrides through overtime caused by the union. did cunningham start musicfest, i didn't know that?

gsbrace said...

I can only say as somebody who has broken up fights on my front steps AND either called police or stayed until I know the entire thing cleared up that I hope I never am called to question on a specific episode. Breaking up a fight between people you can't identify or understand their intentions, especially in the dark, is a terrifying thing to do and takes some guts. That Sam actually will make this confrontation elevated her in my mind. I've been told by my neighbors that I'm just asking for trouble if I do it and will only endanger myself. I'll admit to being a fence-sitter with Sam until now, but courage is courage and I'll keep that in my mind. If she's willing to break up fights when she doesn't know the circumstances (what if somebody has a gun), she's gonna put her neck out in a variety of circumstances that are far less threatening.

I'll applaud anybody who gets out of the safety of their bed and goes into the dark to break up a fight. I'll pray for the healing of the victim(s), especially in this case, but won't slam somebody who endangers him/herself in the process. That just encourages people to retreat further into their homes. Rather than finding fault in her decision not to call the police, how about seeing that she put herself in danger by opening that door.

All of that said, please always call 911. Tell them somebody is being mugged. Tell them you can't tell if they have weapons. The 911 operator might come off as cold and asking too many questions when the situation is literally life and death, but the 30-45 seconds they spend on those questions will help responders be better responders. Every second counts, but every uninformed second potentially adds to the danger. I remember when i was a witness to a murder and called 911. It felt like an eternity of questions and a transfer from county agency to borough police. That is a very helpless feeling.

I'm sure that Sam will continue to intervene in these instances but will never make the mistake of not calling 911 again. I know that I won't repeat that same mistake that I've made in the past. I just hope nobody was seriously injured as a result of my decisions.

tinkerbell said...

when she told Mr. Arkin to stop delivering the paper in the dark, exactly what time did she expect him to change to?

don’t newspapers normally get delivered around 4, 5am?

Maybe she believes that all the subscribers would be delighted to have an extra 2 to 3 hours longer to pace their floors and guzzle their coffee, waiting to receive their precious morning call. and none of them would complain, either because he would just tell them the delay is due to a new rule that the call that requires all carriers to individually gift-wrap each paper and secure it with a special gold ribbon that was donated by the lucrative koz owners.

perhaps she figured if that didn’t go over well, that he would just pull out his magic wand from his back pocket and make the sun suddenly appear at 4am to light his way.

gsbrace said...

BTW, I love the quote you have in your header from MLK. It is quite clear in those quotes that he truly was a man of far superior moral character than most of us today. As much as I strive to be a Christian Apostle everyday, I fall way too short. Deitrich Bonhoeffer and MLK show us how difficult it is to be truly moral people.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Michael,

Your point of view is welcome. Let me tell you,as I've told people repeastedly, that I mkae no claim to being objective. In Bennett's case, it is no secret that I support Dent. That's one of the first things I mentioned before we got started. But I'm trying my best to be fair to her.

It is also true that I do like Cunningham. I feel he has proved himself over time. I am not going to argue his platforms as mayor or exec in a post about Bennett, but he makes things look easy. He has established both competence and gravitas.

In Bennett's case, we are not talking about A-town city council. This is the US Congress. She has to establish that she possesses the skills for that office. She has yet to prove herself, and is running against a person who isvery much like Cunningham in terms of quiet competence and gravitas.

I will not pretend this is an objective accounting, but I'm trying to be fair and am avoiding editorializing as much as I can. To the extent that I screw up, readers like you are here to add some balance.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Geoff,

There is no question that Bennett has courage. And it's also quite clear to me that she deeply cares about A-town. She stayed in the city, for one thing.

Oh, for Pete's sake! said...

did cunningham start musicfest, i didn't know that?--Michael Molovinsky

No he did not, nor does he even slightly suggest that in the post:

"Addressing a major conference theme of local resident concerns about tourism initiatives, Cunningham used the example of Bethlehem’s Musikfest. “Every year, a million people converge on Bethlehem for the 10-day festival,” he said. “Sure, that creates some inconveniences, but that’s a million people to whom we can market other Lehigh Valley tourism destinations.” Bethlehem’s booming Christmas season is another event that brings large numbers of tourists to the city, which lies roughly at the region’s geographical center."

To suggest that this either can be interpreted as Mr. Cunningham taking credit for Musikfest or that it somehow pertains to the posting of Ms. Bennett's own words here is, in my opinion, at best, a stretch.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Molovinsky --

With due respect, there are contradictions between Bennett's two stories. You are spinning by calling these contradictions "elaborations."

Consider her original statement.

"I broke up that mugging. What are you talking about? I've even called in stabbings. We are the first ones to call in disturbances. He [Ali] was getting mugged on my front steps, and I went outside in my pajamas and broke it up. I made sure he was OK. I told him to stop delivering the paper in the dark. He was traumatized. I stayed in communication with him throughout that whole thing. I was not the one who called the dispatcher. I get my paper later now. I told him not to deliver until it is lighter."

1. This statement implies active involvement by Bennett in stopping Mr. Arkin's mugging.

2. A recognition of who the victim was.

3. Concern for and communication with the victim.

Compare that with her revised statement:

"Living as we do next door to the Hotel Traylor, my husband and I over the years have found ourselves calling the police frequently about stabbings, gunshots, street fights and more. When I jumped out of bed and flung open the front door of our home early that morning, I incorrectly assumed it was yet another drunken interaction on our front steps. My response was to admonish the misbehavers and send them home. I did not know that our newspaper man had actually been mugged until the next day when he and I spoke on the phone. I’m glad I opened my door and hopefully prevented further harm from being committed in response to the noise I heard. But in hindsight I wish that I had known what was really happening, because in that event I would have called the police.”

1. Bennett goes from being supercop and breaking up the mugging to yelling at some people on her doorstep.

2. In the new "version" she doesn't realize that it was her newspaper carrier who is being beaten up. It's just two drunks going at it.

3. In the first version she made sure that Ali Arkin was okay. Her words: "I made sure he was OK." In the revised history version she viewed him as a "misbehaver" and "sent him on his way."

4. In the first version of the story she recognized that Ali was her newspaper carrier. Her words: "I told him to stop delivering the paper in the dark." Very sage advice that apparently was not actually offered because in her second version she "did not know that our newspaper man had been mugged until the next day when he and I spoke on the phone."

One wonders why Ms. Bennett did not include being under sniper fire in her original tail of derring-do?

I think that fair-minded people would look at these two statements and realize that the first one bears no resemblance to her second pondered over statement.

A quick question, if she and her husband "have found [themselves] calling the police frequently" over such incidents -- why no call that night?

Oh, for Pete's sake! said...

I was thinking the same thoughts as Anon 1:31.

A 78-year-old man who was mugged asks her to call 911, she told him she would, then didn't. No one disputes this, not even Ms. Bennett.

If her second account is the way it all really went down, why did she "admonish the misbehavers and send them home" but not call 911 (as the "traumatized" crime victim had asked her to do) in order to give police a description of the perpetrators that she apparently saw/spoke to at the scene of the crime?

Perhaps she can try to clarify herself one more time. Wouldn't that make her self-reported claims about how she frequently goes out on the street to fight crime herself more believable?

Anonymous said...

She's trying to turn her home into a bed and breakfast. Maybe she didn't report it because she didn't want the notoriety of a crime in front of her hostel?

michael molovinsky said...

there may be no more two different people commenting on this post than me and gsbrace, yet we both give bennett credit for opening her door at 5 in the morning, knowing there was an altercation occurring outside. lets be frank, this whole post is labeled BAD SAM-ARITAN and has a cartoon of a devil. i think opening the door was an act of a good samaritan, what she should have done after that, i'll leave you hero's to judge.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Mike,

You're right. I did use a headline that I thought might catch interest. I looked for and found a picture of a bad samaritan. This story details an incident in which the lessons taught by that parable come to mind. I have posted Bennett's explanations without editorializing them. I believe my blog is fair. It is no impartial account, but it is fair.

And aside from you and Geoff Brace, there were more than two other commenters - AJ, Tinkerbell, pete's sake, two anonymous posters and me. That's at least 5 and possibly 6 if the anons are two different people. Are you suggesting something else? I hope not.

Oh, for Pete's sake! said...

"...we both give bennett credit for opening her door at 5 in the morning, knowing there was an altercation occurring outside."--Michael Molovinsky

That's fine, and you have every right to do that. Others will look at the overwhelming body of evidence that makes up the rest of content of this posting and say that the title and image are appropriate given the questions that arise from Ms. Bennett's own words and explanations. Some would also say that opening her door to a disturbance outside at that time of day in a part of the city she acknowledges is regularly the scene of "stabbings, gunshots, street fights and more" is dangerous and lacks sound judgment.

Personally, I give more credit Mr. Arkin for managing to finish his paper route and call the police himself after waiting in front of Ms. Bennett's home following a beating that left him with two black eyes. That really takes strength and guts. Don't you think?

Anonymous said...

I guess that depends if you believe she actually even opened her door.

Personally, I don't. Too many inconsistencies.

Anonymous said...

This is getting ridiculous.

A.J. Cordi said...

In the first response, it seems like she made it up as she went.

The second response, the prepared one, seems like that is what she should have said in the first place, but it still doesn't seem truthful.

For a man who was "traumatized," the best she could do was offer him job advice?

michael molovinsky said...

no bernie, i meant there are no commentators who are more different from each other than gsbrace and myself, yet we agree that bennett meant well when she opened the door. being the dent enthusiast you are, you can strive to be fair, but it will be a hard task; good luck with that objective

Anonymous said...

Bernie O'hare at 10:25 AM:

"I make no claim to being objective"

Bingo! He finally says something with a grain of truth!

Anonymous said...

Bennett says on her website that we all have to look out for one another.

A 78 year-old paper carrier gets beaten up on her steps while making sure she gets her paper.

Does Bennett "look out" for him?

Not so much.

hayshaker said...

I don't think a political blogger has any duty to be unbiased. Sam Bennett knew O'Hare supportsed Dent and yet offered the interview. Regular readers of the blog know who O'Hare supports and who he doesn't.

Anonymous said...

BOH

Please get your own statements consistent. You have said you do not claim to be objective, but you are fair. You say you recognize that you are not impartial, but that you are fair. Please look up fair in the dictionary. In my "Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary" (2001), the FIRST entry under "fair" says "free from bias". So please stop admitting that you are biased and claiming nonetheless that you are fair in the same breath. They are mutually exclusive concepts.

Bernie O'Hare said...

People who are onjective are necessarily fair. People who are fair are notr necessarily objective. The words are not really synonymous and have different meanings. If you can't understand that, read more books. You'll get it eventually. You're being a sophist. Look that word up.