Tuesday, July 06, 2021

Morning Call's Gerlach Apologium Rings Hollow

Over the holiday weekend, The Morning Call offered an apologium for its failure to cover the Ce-Ce Gerlach story. She is a City Council member and was running for Mayor at the time the story was reported by this blog. What was reported here is that, as a mandated reporter employed by Valley Youth House, she dropped off a 16 yo runaway at a tent city, where he was sexually abused for two days before being rescued. After she was charged by the Lehigh County DA with child endangerment and failure to report abuse, this daily newspaper finally decided to let you in on what it had been brushing under the rug. Now it has decided to explain why it suppressed this story But like a bell, it rings hollow. 

According to Mike Miorelli, the paper's most recent "Editor-in-Chief", it declined to go with the story originally reported here by James Whitney (and on Facebook) because Gerlach clammed up. After admitting to Whitney that she had dropped an underage boy off at a tent city, she went silent. "We decided we would not print such a potentially explosive story unless we could verify the facts with our own reporting," says Editor Mike. 

What the paper is really saying here is that it is unwilling to rely on a story reported by this blog. In fact, Miorelli refused to link to the blog in his attempt to explain why he let you down. To me, that's an indication that he looks down his nose at what I've been doing - and what his paper's reporters have been data mining - since 2006. This is a mistake. For one thing, the days when local newspapers serve as the gatekeepers for what you need to know are long gone. For another,  this blog has established itself as a highly credible source over the years. Yes, I am opinionated, but am very careful with the facts. I also have the journalism awards to prove it. 

The reality is that the newspaper was playing it safe. If it relied on something reported here and this information turned out to be incorrect, the paper could be sued. I doubt legal action would succeed, but fear of libel lawsuits is why papers usually shy away from controversy. 

I once asked an editor, "Aren't you in business to report the news?"

"No, we're in business to make money," was his reply. 

Though it's hardly fearless, I could understand the failure to report Gerlach's admission as a business decision. Miorelli attempts to dress this up as being about "journalistic integrity," but it's really about money.

Here's what kills me. We have more than Gerlach's admission. Much more. Not long after the Gerlach story broke, I received a phone call from Lehigh County Detective Gregg Dietz. He was investigating the allegations. I reported the existence of this investigation on May 10. At this point, it's definitely a story. The Morning Call still refused to inform its readers. This demonstrates a lack of the journalistic integrity that Miorelli claims to have. 

According to Miorelli, the DA's office told reporters its investigation had stalled. So what? It was still an investigation and a story. It's quite common for investigators to run into a few brick walls before cracking a case. That's why it's called an investigation. 

But wait, there's more. Gerlach worked at Valley Youth House, where CEO Tom Harrington is pulling down an obscene $335,036 per year on $28 million in revenue  The Morning Call could easily have verified this on its  own, but ignored this news. 

Valley Youth House CEO Tom Harrington also used his position as Chair of Allentown's Homeless Comm'n to make a play for Allentown to contract with his outfit for yet another shelter. The person who proposed Harrington for this homeless commission was Gerlach. This can be confirmed from city council videos. 

But wait, there's even more. Valley Youth House is getting about  $2.2 million per year from Lehigh County.  And guess who sits on the Board that budgets this money? Tom Harrington's son Dave.

Dave and his mommy, Kathy Harrington, run Lehigh Valley For All Some. This outfit endorsed Gerlach and even apologized to her after she was charged. 

Where's The Morning Call on all this?

MIA. 

On Tuesday, I'll shed some light on another politico who should have been exposed by The Morning Call four years ago. Perhaps it's time that the paper, in its waning days, develops some of the journalistic integrity it pretends to have. I call it balls. 

Note: Fellow blogger Michael Molovinsky weighs in here

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

The problem with the Morning Call, and even it’s bigger counterparts like the Washington Post, New York Times, etc. today is a lack of credibility. It comes in the form of selective censorship. There is a great amount of meaningful news that is rejected, never seen in print. Real activities and statements that would influence and assist readers in working through their daily lives. All of that, is carefully sifted through to determine first how it would be of service to whatever special interest group funds the publication. Anything that might conflict with the bought and paid for corporate/political message is simply ignored.

In today’s America, it is foolish to rely just one major source for knowledge. With the ease of internet access, it is wise to step-out from the bigger ‘syndicates of slant’ and get the whole, unvarnished story on your own. You will be much better informed about what’s REALLY happening in your world. Probably shocked, actually.

Anonymous said...

Greed, contempt,colusion, corruption ,too many fingers on public funds.

Anonymous said...

Outside of a couple of sports guys, all talent left The Call before they were kicked out of their offices. Anyone with actual skills left long ago. If you're still there, it's because you can't leave. I love the little left wing union they formed to organize Zoom cocktail hours to lament recent firings and pretend there are still chairs to rearrange on the deck of their Titanic. They switched from journalism to advocacy pieces. They went to j-school to make the world a better place. They failed. They destroyed what was left of their profession and sowed constant fear and division along the way. What a reprehensible lot. They went woke and they went broke. The schadenfreude in the wake of journalism's death is wonderful. They deserve to struggle with the consequences of their shitty view of all of us.

Anonymous said...

I think much of their silence has to do with protecting Valley Youth House and the Harringtons. The Harringtons are a Democratic Party powerhouse, VYH has a board full of Morning Call darlings and they get upwards of 90% of their budget from local and county governments. I still think their are some prolific "spin-off" stories to the Gerlach drama involving the Harringtons and VYH that would have made for excellent investigative journalism opportunities by an unbiased newspaper. When did VYH find out about these allegations? Did Gerlach vote on anything at all related to VYH?

Anonymous said...

WOW, what an ego! A newspaper, awful in some regards as the Morning Call can be, fails to rely on your reporting - a self-proclaimed highly credible, award-winning blog? Don’t overextend that shoulder patting yourself on the back, you need that arm strength for your cycling.

Good job on originally covering the Gerlach story in your forum, but come on.

pathfinder said...

Fantastic article! I've stopped my subscription to the Morning Call months ago. I would also like to know why WFMZ was also MIA on this story. Keep up the good work Bernie.

Anonymous said...

Bernie,

This is sickening.

"Valley Youth House CEO Tom Harrington also used his position as Chair of Allentown's Homeless Comm'n to make a play for Allentown to contract with his outfit for yet another shelter. The person who proposed Harrington for this homeless commission was Gerlach.

But wait, there's even more. Valley Youth House is getting about $2.2 million per year from Lehigh County. And guess who sits on the Board that budgets this money? Tom Harrington's son Dave."

Anonymous said...

The Call should conduct a paper trail of Harrington's raises. Dates, amounts, who approved.

Bernie O'Hare said...

" I would also like to know why WFMZ was also MIA on this story"

That's bc it was assigned to Bo Koldkock.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"WOW, what an ego! A newspaper, awful in some regards as the Morning Call can be, fails to rely on your reporting - a self-proclaimed highly credible, award-winning blog?"

I have to point this out bc one of the reasons The Morning Call refused to cover this story is bc it comes from a blog. I listened to Miorelli go along with Alan Jennings as he bashed them on his boring radio show a few weeks ago. Yet both papers have routinely data mined this blog. I thought I'd point out that this blog is, in fact, highly credible. I don't mind being data mined. I don't even mind being given no credit so long as the story is told. I do mind when a paper refuses to tell the story to protect one of its favorites when children are at stake. I do mind being bashed in a radio show by the very hypocrites who data mine me.

So forgive me, but I need to stick up for this blog and my own journalistic integrity.

michael molovinsky said...

While Bernie has been "mined" numerous times, I have also been mined a few times. Once the reporter gave me attribution in the first digital version, only to have it removed by Miorelli. I recall at the time Bill White defended that action on his paper's part.

There is a huge conflict of interest in South Whitehall with the Wildlands Conservancy getting the Greenway contract. While the Morning Call won't investigate, they won't even print my letter to the editor about that and Wehr's Dam.

Anonymous said...

There is also the fatcats that sit behind protecting the poverty revenues in the lehighvalley. This story goes much higher than just sitting on boards and commissions. The back story must be left alone for fear of life and family.

Anonymous said...

@5:54AM "The problem with the Morning Call, and even it’s bigger counterparts like the Washington Post, New York Times, etc. today is a lack of credibility..."

We can agree on using multiple news sources to get a complete picture of what is happening in the world. The lack of credibility is in your eyes because it doesn't agree with your own opinions and biases. I don't dispute that editorially they lean left, but bear in mind they're based in New York City and Washington D.C., major metropolitan areas where their primary customer bases are most likely left leaning Democrats, so from a business stand point its in their interests to cater to their home city audience, not rural America.

The same problems and issues you take exception to within "Main Stream Media" exists in Right Wing media as well, but probably to a further extent when it comes to ignoring certain realities or challenging prevailing group think. That 55% of Republicans believe that "Trump Won" clearly illustrates this point.

The NYT & WP have been around since the mid 1800's, you can complain all you want about bias, but to suggest that they "ignore" real news and events is just absurd.

Anonymous said...

Just checked PolitiFact and Snopes about charitable CEO salaries and the efficiency of dollars donated to actually helping those it proports to aid. Over 30 years ago I remember an article stating the Salvation Army National CEO getting the least compensation out of all the other charities mentioned, which is why the Salvation Army and St. Jude's Hospital were usually given my largest portion of charitable donations. It seems lower pay of the national SA CEO is still true to this day, although I may be naïve in believing anyone who truly believes in their charity would be content with a 100K per year. But these are National CEOs. For a local charity CEO to be making the kind of money stated, whether government funded or not, is unconscionable.

Anonymous said...

MC's national reporting generally repeats what WaPo, NYT, and AP say. I've never even seen them quote the Wall Street Journal, which does do investigative reporting on government issues, outside of the business pages.

I can give them a break on that since they can't invest a lot of resources on national reporting. But the editor's excuse for the Gerlach fiasco was basically "nobody would talk to us so we didn't do anything." Investigative reporting at its finest.

Finally regarding Michael Molovinsky's comment, I note the MC finally published something on Wehr's Dam. They noted "advocates" that lobbied for keeping the dam, but couldn't mention "he who shall not be named."

Anonymous said...

The Morning Call’s ‘white glove’ handling of everything related to ANIZDA is also notable. Everyday taxpayers have taken a big hit there, for sure.

Anonymous said...

"There is also the fatcats that sit behind protecting the poverty revenues in the lehighvalley. This story goes much higher than just sitting on boards and commissions. "

There needs to be an independent audit of all local nonprofits. Has that ever been done?

Bernie O'Hare said...

"There needs to be an independent audit of all local nonprofits. Has that ever been done?"

Most of the nonprofits are well-meaning organizations with very meager resources and loads of volunteers. Also, I have no issue with the desire to help people who are mired in poverty. I do have an issue with excessive salaries like the one paid to Harrington. The biggest abusers, however, are not in the poverty industry. They are the hospitals. It is very difficult for me to put it together bc there are so many corporations so I basically gave up.

LVCI said...

One of our big loses at the TMC was Jarrett Renshaw's reporting. He did several good investigative pieces. He also was well aware of our blog community. He was kind enough to contact me to clarify some information I posted. So he was quite attuned to what was going on. Currently he is a White House reporter for Reuters which he richly deserves.

Following his departure Emily Opilo was appointed to his prior position. When allowed she did a couple of creditable investigative pieces as well. Both were removed from the Allentown positions they once held.

Apparently doing a good job reporting is not rewarded at TMC. Why would any reporter bother doing a good job knowing they're disposable as those who came before them?

I'm not trying to trash TMC, but they really need to so some soul searching and admit to themselves why they are in the position they find themselves in. Each employee at this point lives in fear for their job. If they're up to snuff I'd start filling out a resume to find a job where they'll be more appreciated. Otherwise it's only a matter of time for each to find themselves SOL.

Anonymous said...

With the continuous decade-plus long downsizing of staff and what I'm guessing is a non-local consolidation of management and back-office functions among the papers owned by Tribune/Alden, I wonder who is left at the Morning Call who remembers why certain sacred cows are decreed as such or feels a duty to protect them? Wildlands Conservancy, Wehr's Dam, Strata Flats/Reilly/NIZ, Pawlowski, Jaindl's covering of the Valley with warehouses, other topics the Morning Call would constantly cheer about in a biased fashion in years past. Do the Lehigh Valley Partnership types still have an "in" at the Morning Call anymore? Is there anyone left at the Morning Call who listens to/is pressured by/or cares what unelected local elites think? Maybe not...so it seems like there may be a silver lining in the death spiral/delocalization of the Morning Call.

Anonymous said...

Bernie,

Agree about the nonprofits. Many are managed by dedicated individuals. Absolutely.

Anonymous said...

Non-profit= administrative costs above those they pretend to help in there mission statement. That those makes those corps that give donations to said non-profits part of the criminal enterprise of today's economy farce.

Anonymous said...

If VYH receives United Way funds, did the UW Allocation Committee approve the executive director's $300K salary? That's one of many questions the Call's reporter can investigate.

Anonymous said...

So, there seems to be a major disconnect between the time this kid was dropped off at tent city in July 2020 and when it was first posted in April 2021 on Facebook, then Ce Ce was fired on May 14th. So, what happened between 7-2020 and 4-2021? Did Valley youth house sit on this the whole time? Did Promise Neighborhoods sit on this?

Anonymous said...

Ben Franklin would be proud of your citizen-journalism.

I'm guessing that if it weren't for you (and perhaps Molivinsky too to a degree), Fed Ed would still be Mayor.

You're the lion of what you do.