Wednesday, January 02, 2008

LVRamblings: 2007's Top Stories Complement MSM

I'm a pain in the ass. That's how one friend describes me, and he doesn't even read my blog! It's also a fairly accurate, if unflattering, description of my blogging style. I prefer the term "miserable bastard."

True, what you read here and on other local blogs is raw and unfiltered - we have no editors and sometimes get it wrong. Blogging could never replace your local newspaper. But we do provide a perspective that actually complements the MSM. We can go where newspapers fear to tread - from reporting rumors to filling information gaps.

Are blogs worth the trouble? Eleven stories over the past year prove that, despite our many imperfections, we're on the right track. Judge for yourself.

11) Appellate judge profiles for each of seven appellate jurists seeking retention last November. Although these jurists are the ultimate arbiters of government power, voters know next to nothing about them. That's no surprise. Not one MSM outlet bothered to tell you a thing about these unnecessarily mysterious judges. But those who read this blog were able to make an informed decision.

10) Nazareth's Skateboarding Experience. Although skateboarding is an athletic activity just like baseball or football, Nazareth kids who like it were routinely slammed last summer. "The world needs ditchdiggers, too." "Many of them either weren't talented enough (not their fault) or didn't enjoy or want to work hard enough to play the stick and ball sports." They were pretty much blamed for every crime committed, too. It actually took village idiot Conrad Bowers to make people aware just how silly they had become. He tried to close Nazareth's skatepark just two days after it opened, and that gave kids a very unlikely ally - the police.

9) Elections Office Task Force. Looking for the final report from the citizens' advisory panel that studied Northampton County's election office woes? How about the official minutes of its seven different meetings? My own reports? You'll find it all here, and you won't find it anywhere else. That elections task force had serious reservations about voting machine supplier AVS back in February.

8) Bennett's Boo Boos. From the King Midas story to garden rakes for elitists, Sam Bennett's congressional race has been a comedy of errors. National Dems, who were goofy enough to recruit her in the first place, are desperately looking for someone - anyone - to take on Dent. Good luck with that. Unfortunately, the name that has most recently emerged is a first class wing nut who seems to think fluoridated water is a hot button issue.

7) Hate Speech at Morning Call's Reader Forum. In its latest effort to be hip and create ad revenue, the Morning Call is now allowing hate speech, which extends from typical homophobic rants ("Anyone really care what eight queers claim?") to outright solicitations to commit murder ("Save the taxpayers' money and kill all involved. Case closed!!"). Comments like these will remain for days after being flagged as inappropriate. I am hopeful that Morning Call management changes its reader forum policies very soon. This is about to be a top story in 2008.

6) Berniegate. It's one thing when the local KKK decides to post a few rants on a reader forum. But when the poster is Bernie Kieklak, and he just happens to be COS to state senator Lisa Boscola, it can become a big story pretty fast. Wait a tic! Why the hell am I condemning The Morning Call Reader Forum when I allow some pretty slimy remarks here? I have two very simple answers. First, I'm a hypocrite. Second, we bloggers are interactive and will engage readers who go too far.

5) Upside Down Flag Story. A local dude who chose to fly his flag upside down was charged with insulting the American flag. Easton lawyer Gary Asteak asks,"How the hell do you insult the American flag? What do you do, walk up to it and start cursing?" This blog was picked up by both local papers, and soon became a national story.

4) Local Election Coverage. In May, October and November, there was extensive coverage of municipal races, with details the MSM simply had no space to cover. What a Fleckin' rush! This includes uploads of county council campaign finance reports, something you'll see nowhere else. A lot of people got very interested in following that money trail and the negative campaigning once it was there for them to see.

3) The Battle Against LANTA, a series of articles that, combined with Channel 69 coverage and the tireless advocacy of both Mike Molovinsky and state senator Pat Browne, finally forced LANTA and Allentown city officials to pay attention to financially distressed Hamilton Street merchants.

2) Severson Scissorhands! King of Sleazeball Politics, political consultant Tom Severson first attracted attention last May with anonymous mailers that defamed a magisterial candidate. In October, he switched over to anonymous robocalls, this time directed at county council candidates. He's a real cut up, according to at least one former employee. And just before Christmas, he disrupted a funeral service. What a guy!

1) Vonnegut, my dad and WWII, including old letters from the writer, Kurt Vonnegut, and a diary my father briefly kept after his release from a POW camp. I did little of the writing, so it's clearly my best work.


Anonymous said...

To quote the old sinatra tune, " it was a very good year....." Keeping going in 2008

Chris Casey said...

And now you have an election year to play with. Won't this be fun!

J. SPIKE ROGAN said...

Even Radop personality Bob Kincaid posted on your RIP post for Kurt.

I thought the Krucker post would be on the list.

Blah Society said...

And the Bernie Award goes to...

Anonymous said...

Why couldn't the MSM do profiles for appellate judges? Why couldn't they post campaign finance reports? Why not post reports from a citizen task force? I thought they were interested in informing us, and they are online, too.

Anonymous said...

While the blogosphere may not replace newspapers, it certainly has the promise of improving their performance.

We are served locally by two newspapers that provide the quality you might expect for the level of salaries paid in Easton and Allentown (i.e. mediocre at best).

This blog held feet to the fire, goosed a few unpopular stories along, and provided more detail about statewide judicial candidates than has ever been printed in the fish wraps. All in all, not bad at all.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Merci beaucoup. The papers have actually, to their credit, been quite helpful.

Anonymous said...


I particuarly enjoyed the info about Kurt Vonnegut and your dad. I knew your dad and always enjoyed my conversations with him at the courthouse. By the way, your blogs inspired me to ask for Vonnegut's book, "Slaughterhouse Five," as a Christmas present. I have 25 pages to go. And so it goes.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I still have 26.