The Pierre Story Was Not, Is Not and Will Not Be a Pleasant Story ~ Annapolis Capital Punishment

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Pierre Story Was Not, Is Not and Will Not Be a Pleasant Story

My source left me a message this morning on an extremely busy Friday and I spoke with him a few hours later. What to do? I had a hectic day with guests coming for the weekend. I had a list of a dozen tasks to complete. I was shocked and upset, but there was a story--an important story.  It quickly became clear that others were on to the story and something would break. The information was also clear and all a matter of public record. Not one, not two but over a dozen civil infractions ranging from traffic citations to money owed to tax liens.  There was a clear pattern. Is this the kind of person we want as our mayor? How could everyone have missed this? Failure to appear? Foreclosure?

Having become friendly with Zina Pierre and many of her supporters, this was all the more distressing, but I felt this story was going to come out soon, whether I broke it or not. I would have done the same for any candidate. I thought it all over. I was aware of all the ramifications and possible fallout.

I called her spokesperson who had also just become aware of the story. I could not wait all day for a response. I did what I felt was the right thing to do-and the thing that citizens and readers expect from the media. I hope I made the right decision.

As I said, this was not pleasant. But the facts were clear and they had to come out. Over the next few days we will all need to reflect and understand what it all means. Lot of questions. Lots of controversy. Few answers. We will all need time to sort this out and time to heal. Please don't blame the messenger. Zina Pierre will have to answer to all of us--those of us who voted for her, did not vote for her, ran against her, supported her, those who voted for one of her opponents, those of us who wrote about her, those of us who cheered her on, those of us who dismissed her.....

Not a pleasant picture. Let's just hope we can all sort this out. Meanwhile speculation is fueling yet more speculation. All I know is what I learned from the public record this afternoon. That record speaks for itself. Now we all hope we will soon hear Zina Pierre speak for herself.

Paul Foer aka CP

Look at what a Fred Bralman of Arnold wrote at The Capital's web-site:

"Media Incompetence! - September 19, 2009
What's surfaced here is the incompetence of local media! These sorry "Activists" at The Capital and a certain RIDICULOUS local radio station, with an alleged full time news department that rivals the sitcom WKRP didn't bother to check on anything except the color of the woman's skin and how she was "Making History"...And now these same media outlets are trying to make it seem like Paul Foer, The Perez Hilton of Annapolis, somehow covered this. Since when do gossip hounds qualify as Journalists? Instead of questioning the whereabouts of Dave Cordle on election night, Miss Foer should have been questioning the legitimate backgrounds of EVERY candidate who wants to run the city, not just the ones he wanted to see loose! Shame on the Capital and every other media outlet in the city. You should be embarrased.
unhide Comment hidden due to low ranking. Why is this comment hidden?
Fred Bralman - Arnold, Md - Karma: Excellent"

 Mr Bralman:

At least you provide your name and town so I'll give you some credit for a certain level of integrity, but to write such a letter--and in to The Capital, deserves a response from me. Your letter is so full of egregious and ironic accusations that it is laughable. First, you're angry and point fingers at media for not investigating and not breaking the story, which is reasonable--BUT NOBODY DID--or if they did, they kept quiet. And, though you live in Arnold, you have just as much opportunity to go online and check as does anyone else, so do "regular people" or voters not have to accept some of the "blame" here? This was all a matter of public record--just a few clicks away.

After you blame the mainstream news media, you then turn your ire to me for breaking the story. So, the media were at fault for not writing about this, and then you fault the media for writing about it. As for your condemnation of me as "the Perez Hilton of Annapolis", I can first of all say that if I were collecting in dollars in a year what Perez Hilton collects in a day on his/her blog, I might not be so angry at your characterization of me. You may not like what I do but to call me a "gossip hound" is ridiculous, especially in light of what some other blogs do and because I refuse anonymous comments. I put myself on the line every day I write here. Furthermore, this blog is increasingly popular not because it spread gossip but because it provides information and news that readers find valuable. The fact that you wrote about me in your comment to The Capital must say something about the impact this blog has. For your information, I have a masters degree in journalism and have won an award for my writing. Although trained and proficient in normative journalism, yes, what I do here stretches that envelope as part of the emerging world of blogging--but I ask you to find one misquote, one inaccuracy or one misleading story. If you should, please write in--identifying yourself, and your comment is almost guaranteed to be published--if you agree with me or not.

So on the one hand, you question me for repeatedly bringing up how Dave Cordle is not campaigning and is noticeably absent from public forums, and say I should have been questioning the backgrounds of all candidates, and then when I do so, you blame me for being a "gossip journalist".

Yes, everyone in local media deserves some blame for not finding out about this earlier, but you forget a couple of important points. One--the real blame should go to Zina Pierre herself, and in a secondary way, to the Democratic Party for not having vetted her. Two--this was all public record and you and every other voter, whether in Arnold or Argentina, could have pulled this up in seconds.

And finally, what do readers expect from me? I'm just the messenger. I reject anonymous tips, innuendo, rumor and gossip all the time from people who have weird axes to grind against ex-husbands, former bosses, family members who somehow think I should do their private investigative work--for free! That's not news. That's gossip.  The "contract" the public have with the media is that by being exposed to advertisers, who pay for the journalism work, the reader has access to news. Whether that model is flawed or not or is disappearing or not is not the issue. It's what has worked for more than a century. Readers expect the mainstream media will be a forum, a "watchdog" and an independent mediator--but what do readers expect from me? Fred Bralman believes he can tell me what I should be doing by writing:

"Instead of questioning the whereabouts of Dave Cordle on election night, Miss Foer should have been questioning the legitimate backgrounds of EVERY candidate who wants to run the city, not just the ones he wanted to see loose! [sic]"

Oh, and as for referring to me as "Miss Foer", did you think you were being cute? That was the silliest yet the least offensive part of your otherwise patently offensive letter. What gives Fred Bralman the right to tell me what to do? Where is the contract between us? He can go out and start a blog just as easily as anyone else--and for free. Instead he writes in to and essentially beats up and uses The Capital--which is his right, but there is an implicit contract based on centuries of use.

Bralman writes "Shame on the Capital and every other media outlet in the city. You should be embarrased.[sic]" Here Bralman is correct. We all should be embarrassed. But that's about the only correct thing in his letter.


Paul Foer said...

A reminder to all the anonymous commenters..You know the policy. I am not going to publish your letters about this unless you are clearly identified. You can point fingers, blame people, fuel speculation, question motives etc, but you won't get your opinion published here without identifying yourself. Zina Pierre is not anonymous. I am not anonymous. Neither should you be anonymous.

Will Small said...

Dear city leaders:
This is a good time to talk about introducing Instant Runoff Elections, or IRV, to the Annapolis city democratic process. IRV is elegantly simple and helps foolproof the election, preventing the spolier issue and preempting issues such as the sullied results of the democratic primary. In IRV the electorate ranks their candidates in order of preference. If there is a majority winner at the 1st choice the judges stop counting. If not, they go on to the 2nd choice and so on. Takoma Park has it.

Sadly the failure of the party, media and populace to properly vet the candidates resulted in inconclusive read of the electorate's choice. To proceed without rerunning the election would further dilute the democrats standing. I hope they, with the moniker of democrats, manage to find it within themselves to uphold the democratic process for our small city. It would support the long-term democratic process and prevent future botches such as this if you and our other leaders would enact IRV for us.
Thank you,
Will Small

Adam Pagnucco said...

Nice scoop, Paul. If the MSM had any decency, they would lead their articles about this with, "As first reported on Annapolis Capital Punishment..."

Paul Foer said...

If I had ignored it, it would have been picked up elsewhere. We all failed by not having looked into this earlier. The Capital did mention me by name in the story, but not the name of the blog. I have an acquaintance bragging that he got this posted on his Facebook page days ago. The Sun now tells me she was working on it for days. This is not a pleasant situation.

Paul Richards said...

It is great that the #1 [Zina] and #2 [Josh] winners were AGAINST the City Manager position.

I wish the Gang of Four who are pushing the City Manager position take note of the people's real wish.

Unfortunately a referendum is an easy way to ruin government. Look at California.

Paul Richards

Paul Foer said...

Sorry but I just don't see the connection or the relationship in your argument. On the one hand you stand up for voting for candidates as if it were a one issue thing, and then on the other hand you are against the votes of the people, as in a referendum. Huh? Cohen and Pierre are also against the tax cap, but so were all Democratic candidates. I mean, there is a tenuous argument at best but it is full of "noise" and is just unclear. Why do you support votes for candidates yet say that votes for an issue in a referendum are not good?

Anonymous said...

Referenda do not always have to be bad. But the #1 reason is to circumvent the role of the elected officials. Why have a City Council? We have a Constitutional Democracy, not a pure democracy. Referenda are the way of the pure democracy.

The #2 reason for a referendum is to use simple Bumper Sticker Logic for complex issues. Gay marriage and a 2% cap on taxes, for example in California. Tax Caps and the City Manager in Annapolis.

Paul Richards

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