Bill is wrong.
Let's lay out some of the facts here. The newspaper is a shadow of its former self. Having gone corporate, it has seen many of its best reporters and editors cast adrift, in favor of those more willing to keep their heads down and do as they're told. It's also headquartered inside the MIZ, and presumably will benefit from all the pretty buildings.
Bill White's Pro-Pawlowski Pal
I find it ironic that the very first person White references in his column is a former reporter known for his pro-Pawlowski bias. This friend also worked briefly for Fed Ed's campaign manager, Miked Fleck. Since he's looking for work, I will refrain from identifying him here by name. But as a former Morning Call reporter, this friend was already slanting coverage towards Pawlowski when he first ran for Mayor. Later, as a paid Pawlowski operative, he did manage to spin a few stories out of the Morning Call that were critical of Whitehall Mayor Ed Hozza, one of Fed Ed's rivals.
I know this because he tried to spin me, too.
Stories Critical of Pawlowski
White goes on to cite several stories that were highly critical of Pawlowski's pay-to-play practices. Fed Ed's shoddy campaign finances, which were first reported here, became a series of pay-to-play pieces. These were picked up and expanded upon by two very aggressive and hard-hitting reporters, Darryl Isherwood and Jarrett Renshaw. They did incredible work, as White correctly boasts.
Neither of them stayed with The Morning Call.
Ever wonder why?
I know for a fact that reporters assigned to cover Allentown had as much trouble getting editors to agree to publish a critical story as they did in doing the research for their investigatory efforts. Editors have gone along with Pawlowski's attempt to create a false image of Allentown's "rebirth" or "renaissance" (Japanese call this tatemae) instead of showing Allentown exactly as it appears (Japanese call this honne).
While patting the paper on the back, perhaps Bill can explain the real reason why the Abe Atiyeh land deal was completely missed last year, when blogger Michael Molovinsky first wrote about it. Perhaps he can explain why it was the last news outlet to report that Fed Ed paid him $1.4 million for land the City's own appraiser only valued at $580,000. Its first real story occurred 16 days after mine., and a year after Molovinsky.
Is that an example of being thorough and fair?
Morning Call Missed Discriminatory Gentrification
The paper refused to cover Fed Ed's discriminatory gentrification attempts in the downtown, where he began sweeping the poor out of the way in 2007 to make room for the pretty people. At that time, his solution to Allentown's many problems was, of all things, fine dining. Johnny Mañana's (with an ñ, damn it!). The paper did ultimately write a few pieces when the MIZ began to take shape, but this is something that Michael Molovinsky and I had already been writing about for three years.
Fed Ed's Abuse of Code Enforcement
The paper also failed to pick up on Fed Ed's abuse of code enforcement to punish political enemies and reward his pals, a point made in the Haddad prosecution. He unleashed his goons on a building owner who dared sport a digital billboard that featured an ad from Lou Hershman. Fed Ed even set them after 75 year-old Zee Weikel, for daring to have an occasional yard sale so she could go out with her lady friends once in a blue moon.
For his pals, things were different. A hedge funds manager, who needed the city's blessing for some in ground pool he wanted at his mansion, is an example. Managing Director Francis Dougherty fired off an email to one of his underlings, demanding quick action. "This is a favor for tim holt. Our action on tim's behalf means money from air products later."
The paper never looked into uneven code enforcement, not even when Michael Molovinsky wrote about how Fed Ed used that and jail to essentially steal the Neuweiler building from its rightful owner.
The Morning Call has presented us with tatemae. The Strata flats story, for example, "reports" that nearly all the apartments have been rented out. But there is no way that could be known without actually seeing the rental agreements. It chose to rely on the landlord, who would be a fool to admit he's having trouble.
Basically, the paper provided free advertising.
The attempt to portray Fed Ed as the innocent victim of Evil Miked Fleck is similarly nauseating. Last time I checked, innocent victims don't sweep their offices for bugs or buy burner phones.
The paper has an obligation to present honne, the way things are. It largely succeeds, but not in Allentown.
Salute to Bill White
I'll end this piece by saluting Bill White. This might annoy him right now, but he's a very large part of the reason why people began paying attention to this and other blogs. In our infancy, most "journalists", including Bill's former colleague Paul Carpenter, turned their noses up at blogs. Much of the criticism directed at people like myself, who have no training or editors, is completely justified. But Bill recognized that we actually do break stories and often connect the dots. Unhampered by space limitations or deadlines, we can go into detail that real journalists can only envy. Bill occasionally refers to interesting stories from Blogistan. His recurring "What is It?" feature, for example, is based on Kathy Frederick's Junk Drawer. Never full of himself, he was among the first real journalists to give credit where credit is due. More often than not, I find myself in agreement with him and especially like his humor. But not this time.