Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Readers sound off on corruption reporting

Sunday’s column ("Reporters, records led path to
Black") in the Observer related how Democracy North Carolina researcher Bob Hall and Observer reporters used public records to help unravel the story about former Speaker Jim Black, and how it’s helping tell the public about an investigation into the dealings of Rep. Tom Wright, D-New Hanover and how financial houses are helping fund State Treasurer Richard Moore’s campaign. I asked readers to let me know what they thought. Here’s a sample:
From a reader in Hickory:
I appreciate the awareness you and your colleagues are trying to raise regarding the conflicts of interest and fraud that is pervasive in some political camps. With that said, your reference to the work of David Ingram and Rick Rothacker should have cited the earlier work by Forbes magazine (Neil Weinberg and Jason Storbakken) which first exposed Richard Moore’s “Pay to Play" and related conflicts of interest. By all means, please do not let up on the message but in fairness to those who did the original research and put Moore in the national spotlight, they should be referenced as well.
And my reply:
Good point, but I do know that David and Rick were working on their
story long before Forbes magazine sent out the press release on theirs. I’m not arguing we were on it before Forbes went to work; very likely Forbes spent months on it. But it would be incorrect for us to imply that we got on the story only after Forbes did. They busted it first and deserve credit. My Sunday columns run 132 lines (in our system) and the laws of physics prevent me from saying all the things that should or could be said....
The point I was trying to make was not who got the story first, but how well our state’s open records laws have served the public interest in helping folks understand what was happening.
From a reader in Tega Cay:
Appreciate everything the Observer has done to
report on corruption in government. Sometimes it seems like
the newspapers are the only organization that devotes the
assets and energy necessary to uncover these threats to
democracy. The Carolinas, like a lot of other states, has a
long way to go in changing its attitudes towards government corruption.
From a Catawba County reader:
I wish they would simply ban lobbying altogether. It is a cancer in the state and in this country!
From a reader in Newland:
When I studied political science, the model was that a state governor’s cabinet would be appointed and confirmed, just as the U.S. cabinet is. Otherwise, you may have a group of officials working against each other.
In the same vein, I loathe electing judges.
From a Charlotte reader:
As a board member of Democracy North Carolina and resident of Mecklenburg County, I am very proud of the work that Bob Hall did in exposing the corruption in the legislature. There is no doubt that this was not the first time something like this has happened but one way we can help reduce the chance for it to happen again would be if the state legislature were to expand our public financing of elections. If we were to expand this program so that it covered our legislative and council of state races we could avoid these sorts of embarrassments.
Jim Black represented me in the legislature for several years and I think he did a good job but, in my opinion, the pressure to raise more and more cash clouded the judgment of a well meaning public servant. Public financing of elections will reduce the need to raise all this cash.
From another Charlotte reader:
I read the Observer every day, and I have the distinct impression that the Observer came to the conclusion that Jim Black was a crook very late in the day. Even though you reported that Black created a do-nothing job for Michael Decker etc., you seemed to be saying, "at least he is our crook, he has done so much for the local area." The alternative media were after Jim Black long before the Observer.
In fact, I think Jim Black did what was good for Jim Black, and many local needs went unmet, like prosecutors.
Isn’t it sad that a man would sell himself for $28,000? There must be more to the story.
And what did Black owe that lady he made the House Historian, anyway? There must be more to that story.

7 comments:

JAT said...

Jack:

Your paper could do a great deal of good by digitizing and putting online the new disclosure forms filed by the county's state delegation with the new North Carolina Ethics Commission.

Mecklenburg needs all the sunshine it can get.

Anonymous said...

I especially enjoyed the blog regarding Jason Ray. I feel the void of this young man and I never met him either. Very nice of you to share this wonderful story in a world bent on digging up filth. Hooray for Jason Ray! Dianne Walker, Kannapolis, NC

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