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?
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.