Jimmy Olsen, Boy Editor," I believe what I do is an important public service at a time when the corporate owners of daily newspapers have decided it's no longer important that you know what is happening in your own community. I am only one person, but my primary goal is to deliver as much information as I can, especially about local communities overlooked or no longer covered by the dailies.
A perfect example of this is a story from last week concerning UGI's request for a 78' high liquefied natural gas facility in Bethlehem. Though this proposal is opposed by Lower Saucon Tp, it is Bethlehem's Zoning Hearing Board who will make the decision. I attended and sat through a three and a half hour hearing. I also did some independent research about the safety records at other liquefied natural gas facilities and, of course, wrote the account. It took me about eight hours.
Neither of the daily newspapers thought it was important that you know about this proposal.
Saucon Source and The Home News, both of which are listed on my sidebar, do provide some local news coverage in the Saucon Valley and Northampton-Bath areas. In addition, Matt Dees and Ron Beitler are two locally elected officials who make a diligent effort to keep readers in West Easton and Lower Macungie informed. But that's about it, other than me.
Alcoholism stripped me of the one thing I hold most dear - my integrity. I can tolerate and even laugh and join in disparaging remarks about what I do. But over the years, this has really been an attempt to restore my honor, as corny as that might sound, by serving the public.
Since I began blogging in 2006, I've published over 10,000 stories. Weekday readership has gone from about 30 when I started to between 5,000-7,000 now. Some posts are very ordinary, like notices of an upcoming town hall. Others have been significant. The dailies often data mine this blog for stories. That's fine with me. I want to see the public informed. That is the source of this blog's only real power. It is no help to anyone running for office. But it does help set the public agenda.
The most controversial feature of this blog is the anonymous comment feature. There can be ugly remarks, and I am often blamed for allowing them, even if I delete them. But anonymity also encourages spontaneity. It enables people to say things they could never say if you knew their identity. There have been useful tips, too. So I will continue to allow anonymity and monitor the trolls. Besides, there has been a drastic decline in civility, even when readers are required to sign their name. I see that both on Facebook and at other blogs.
I've been unable to line up anyone willing to take over for me when I'm gone. I did have one recently retired lawyer interested, but she came to her senses. It requires a thick skin. I've endured calculated insults and snubs by politicians and even other news outlets.
I accept no ads. I did have Google adsense. I loved it because, other than ruling out certain types of ads, I had no say on who or what was advertised here. It was a perfect firewall. But they fired me twice because some readers thought they were doing me favors by clicking on my ads.
I refuse to solicit locally. That could compromise my independence and integrity. I am paid by no one. I do get paid for stories I submit to a small weekly, but if you saw the amount, you'd laugh. If I support a candidate for public office and am writing about him, I try to make that clear. I also will disclose any monetary contributions I make in those rare cases when I can afford it. I was once slammed for failing to disclose more fully my support for AG candidate John Morganelli. I have no idea how much more transparent I could have been.
I post only as me. I never use sock puppets, here or anywhere else. I owe you honesty. I have sued people who attack my integrity with knowingly false accusations that I attempt to manipulate discussions by posting either anonymously or through pseudonyms. I feel strongly about this and Allentown blogger Michael Molovinsky knows this because I told him many times.
Yesterday, in a Memorial Day post about the Pope and Trump, Molovisky on Anything But Allentown writes, "As a Jew, it's nice to say nice things about the Pope." Isn't that nice? He then proceeds to rip the Holy Pontiff for daring to preach that we need to forgive our enemies, even them Muslims. Imagine that! The spiritual leader of the Roman Catholic Church teaches forgiveness. Molovinsky also again slams Morning Call columnist Bill White for calling him dour a few weeks ago.
Molovinsky received a critical comment from "Monkey Momma." She has been commenting in the blogosphere for years. "This is an odd post for Memorial Day," she starts.
"To those who gave their life defending our freedoms here in the United States, I am thankful," she continues. "We live in a country that tolerates and encourages the exchange of varying opinions, and that is not something I take for granted. Our freedoms have been clouded lately with anger and extreme partisanship. I believe this blog has, in its own small way, lately contributed to the hate we see blooming in our society. You need only read comments from the last few posts to see the venom of which I speak."
Molovinsky responded by accusing her of being me. "I will give you this; when it comes to contributing to hate, you remain the master."
Well, I'll be a monkey's uncle.
Molovinsky is wrong. Monkey Momma writes well. I suppose I should be flattered. But as he knows, I only write as myself. He is attacking my basic integrity. He is doing so with reckless indifference to the truth.
I have no problem being demeaned as "Jimmy Olsen, Boy Editor." But this latest reckless and false accusation is a smear on more than me. It's a slur on a woman, and someone with whom I've often disagreed, for telling an authoritarian that he's an authoritarian.