Did Democratic Activists "Break" The Zina Pierre Story? ~ Annapolis Capital Punishment

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Did Democratic Activists "Break" The Zina Pierre Story?

Did Democrat activists "Break" The Zina Pierre Story? The honest answer--which is the only kind you'll ever get from me, is I don't know. Does it matter? Maybe. I think that it could matter a whole lot, depending on which "theory" of the day--or hour that you the reader are following.

I will recount the chain of events from what I know. I received a call on Friday afternoon from a reader who also happens to be active in city politics--that's three days after the election. I think my source may be a Democrat, but I do know that the person is a lawyer and she helped me understand the legalese of the state court documents so I could determine the severity and impact. Together we reviewed the online, easily-available, public records together, both wondering why it had just come to light. This person told me that it was mainly Democrats who were aware of this and talking about it--it was not coming from elsewhere. I immediately contacted Zina Pierre's spokesperson, who as mentioned, was already aware of the situation but I did not get any kind of comment. I was contacted by another journalist who was asking me if I knew what was going on and provided some information about the candidate's background and address.

That was all I knew on Friday afternoon. Period. I published a brief post about the candidate's long history of court and financial problems--again--all of which was public record, was newsworthy and relevant. These were not just tiny little things. Taken as a whole they raise important questions about the candidate's ability to manager her personal affairs as well as show a certain level of disrespect for the legal system. At the same time, one had to wonder how a supposedly high-level presidential appointee--and presumably a well-paid one at that, could have such a history. Furthermore, there appeared to be at least one open case for a Failure to Appear at a court for a traffic violation. That, my lawyer friend advised me, meant there could possibly be an outstanding bench warrant on Ms. Pierre.

I informed many people of the story by sending an email as soon as I posted the story and I called the editor of The Capital as well. And by the way--that was the extent of my involvement with The Capital in this matter--period. Hours later, Nicole Fuller of the Baltimore Sun reported her version of the story. In an email after that, Ms Fuller told me she had been working on the story and was simply waiting for some court papers to arrive from Prince Georges County.

So clearly, this story was quickly becoming known to many. I was not part of any kind of "leak" or any kind of insider situation in any way. If I had known of the candidate's background before the election, you know I would have done the same thing--to publish it. And I'd do it again--about Ms. Pierre or any other candidate.

Then, out of the blue, I receive an email from Sean O'Neill of Admiral Heights informing me that he posted information about Pierre's legal background on his Facebook page--on Wednesday, September 16. Therefore, as far back as I am able to now reconstruct this, O'Neill broke the story and he should take the credit. I do not know why he waited to tell me this AFTER I posted my story. In fact, he tells me that he sent it first to Arundel Muckraker and Muckraker appears to have been hot on the trail of this story as well. O'Neill by the way, is president of the Admiral Heights Improvement Association and from what I have been able to gather, an active supporter of Josh Cohen. 

Since Mr. O'Neill's account on Facebook is as widely available to the public as is the Maryland court records, any reader with a Facebook account can look it up for themselves as easily as I did it for the court records. Despite this, since it might considered an invasion of Mr. O'Neill's privacy, and to protect the privacy of those who responded to him, I'll not post it all here but I will extract a few choice pieces to shed some light. Hopefully Mr. O'Neill will keep it all public for you as I found it Sunday morning--but in case he takes it down--get there fast!

About 24 hours after the election results were posted, O'Neill wrote: 

Sean O'Neill
So, go to: http://casesearch.courts.state.md.us/inquiry/inquiry-index.jsp and type in last name: Pierre, first name: Zina. Foreclosure and owing back taxes? And she is the Democratic nomination for mayor of Annapolis in charge of a $100 million a y...ear budget? Way to do your due diligence Annapolis voters.Read More

The next person who wrote back said "i just did a double take when i saw this under the FB highlights~ viva le josh!!"

Indeed. Viva le josh.... to which O'Neill answered...

Sean O'Neill
Unbelievable...this is not DC...she will NEVER win this race w/ a foreclosure on her record. I don't know who she thinks she is kidding. Someone has blown a ton of smoke up her you-know-what.
__Yesterday at 11:03pm

Then O'Neill wrote....
Sean O'Neill
Looks like Paul Foer is taking the credit, but we all know who really broke the story :). Here's a link to his blog:
Yesterday at 10:29am

See what just happened there! After I "broke" the story, which was before O'Neill contacted me or I knew anything about his Facebook page, O'Neill is saying "we all know who really broke the story.." in kind of a sarcastic manner, but again, I knew nothing about this on Friday afternoon when I posted my piece.  Why did O'Neill not go to The Capital or The Sun? Why did he leave it on Facebook? Did he indeed call Muckraker as he said?

Then, one of his Cohen's big supporters, an Eastport woman who helped in his campaign, and stood by him when he announced his endorsement from former Police Chief Johnson and AG Doug Gansler wrote:
"Trudy is angling hard for the seat, and Foer is taking your credit"
Let me be very clear. I am not taking anybody's "credit". In an email to O'Neill after I learned of his Facebook thing--through him--I said, go ahead and take the credit. But this is not about credit. It is about who really was behind this. O'Neill also posted this on his FB page:

Sean O'Neill OMG! All I did was a little research and look what happens:


Yep, thanks to Sean O'Neill! OMG indeed. All he did was a little research and look at what happened. The big question for Sean, is how did he come across it? Who put him up to the research? When did he learn of it? Did he sit on it until after the election? What is his connection to Josh Cohen or the Democratic Party? He should go ahead and take the credit--enjoy the limelight.

Visit Sean O'Neill's Facebook page to see it for yourself--before he "privatizes" it...And by the way, this story is NOT over yet....but I'm going to let the reporters who actually receive paychecks for finding out about these things to actually do their job...It is rare when big stories just fall into the laps of reporters. It is even rarer when a reporter ignores such a story. My life would have been a lot easier and more pleasant these past few days had I not had any involvement with this. Thanks for reading--but please keep in mind--this is not a hobby as if it were a Facebook page. I need your support as well.

Join us every Thursday morning, from 8-9 am for our Sip N' Blogs at ZU Coffee, 934 Bay Ridge Road, Annapolis, Maryland, in the Giant Shopping Center. Sept-24--Jennifer Monteith.
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Oct 8--Mat Silverman
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Anonymous said...

Facebook pages are typically not open to the public so not anyone can access them. You need to be approved to be a friend. So if you saw it on the page, you are obviously a Facebook friend.

Paul Foer said...

No--this was totally open....

Anonymous said...

A Sean O'Neill is shown on the list of employees in Annapolis' Planning & Zoning Department.

Paul Richards

Paul Foer said...

Different persons. I am getting a lot of anonymous crap over this latest post. I don't "do" Facebook. O'Neill pointed me to his Facebook page which my wife visited because she is on FB but is not an FB "friend" of O'Neill's. It was all there for anyone to see. I protected the widespread dissemination of the names of others who added comments on his page because maybe they did not want their names out there. If anything, I erred on the side of discretion to protect them.

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