Naturally, when I received an invitation to another news conference yesterday, I immediately accepted. But yesterday was a bad day. Thanks to bridgework along the Seventh Street exit, Route 22 was clogged like my arteries, all the way from Airport Road. To make matters worse, once I arrived at the Scottish Rite Center, the damn door was locked. Now there was an intercom next to the door, but everytime I punched in a number, all I heard was a voice as garbled as a McDonald's drive-thru.
"Mrrph. Hmmnn tee dooor. Hmmmnn tee dooor, OK?"
I had exchanges like that for a good half hour. Finally, I whipped out my cell phone, called the Scottish Rite Cathedral and told them I was the frickin' Pope. But I forgot Scots hate the pope. "You'll never get in, you bloody papist!" Fortunately, I saw a code inspector driving by and told him the place had old smoke detectors. City officials quickly broke the door down.
Unfortunately, I arrived just as Percy Dougherty, Bob Smith and Mike Welsh were finishing their remarks. Fortunately, they had a nice folder containing their remarks. But I still felt pretty bad. You see, aside from me, the only person covering this event for the media was Ken Petrini.
Percy Dougherty is the Chairman of Lehigh County's Board of Commissioners. Bob Smith is President of Allentown's School Board. Mike Welsh is a successful businessman who just waged a courageous state house campaign against popular Jennifer Mann. Whether you vote for them or not, these are three very interesting leaders whose voices should be heard. One of them chairs the largest legislative body in the Lehigh Valley. Yet, neither The Morning Call nor Channel 69 covered this conference. They missed Percy Dougherty's claim that he's been kept in the dark about the budget to be unveiled on Thursday, something that Ken covered extensively in his report. They missed Bob Smith's announcement that Allentown School District is going to have to borrow money in September, something I'll be noting later. They missed how these candidates feel about the Lehigh Valley's state legislators, and the possibility of yet another clean sweep movement.
I know these reporters are stretched very thin right now, are working double beats in many cases, and have to prioritize what they cover. But what good is a democracy when we don't know how candidates come down on specific issues? That's the inevitable consequence of the demise of our newspaper industry. Doesn't this benign neglect encourage apathy?