The Sunday prior to the General Election, an editorial appeared in the Carroll County Times. It will unquestionably become the most dishonest editorial ever too appear in those pages. It certainly is not the first, nor will it be the last. It is nonetheless, a low point for a once proud and honest publication. The diatribe is undoubtedly, the most intellectually and morally bankrupt piece of garbage Lee has ever authored. Talk about your dirty politics, it epitomizes everything that is wrong with the media today.
Rather than tackle the many factually challenged comments made in the piece collectively, we will delve into every line. We will give it the Standard "View in Focus," pointing out the deliberate, dishonest and reprehensible behavior of the biased editor of the Carroll County Times.
It is unconscionable, that the directors at Landmark Communications (the parent company of the Times) condone the outright fabrication and dishonest information brokered within their publications.
The editorial, if it can be called that, was titled, "Politics past and present."
Albeit slightly dated, it needs a response; it clarifies the need for citizen skepticism. The removal of all back copies of the Times from library archives is of paramount importance. If researchers or students use any so-called "facts" from the pages of the Times, [Source material from the Times cannot be verified for accuracies or omission of facts. All source information is presumed to be pure conjecture.] A disclaimer refuting the editor and the papers content should be added to all research papers.
CCT: Carroll voters heading to the polls on Tuesday (Nov. 7) should remember the adage those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it.
CS: The editor of the Times is probably the worst place to go for a history lesson, but if you must, they do have integrity do they not? We are challenging the veracity of both the Times and its editor. The have sullied the reputations of too many, they have remained unchallenged far too long.
CCT: The state prosecutor on Thursday (Nov. 2) charged the newly reformed Carroll County Republican Club, President Scott Hollenbeck and Treasurer Suzanne Primoff with violating election laws.
CS: This little query is a statement that elucidates the intent of the Times, which is to sensationalize and exploit anything and anyone with whom they disagree politically. The Primoff's have been the recipient of the worst smear tactics the Times has ever offered towards an individual. Lee's almost daily assault on the Primoff's in 2002 election cycle was brutal and beyond the pale. Unfortunately, Lee's unrelenting, insidious remarks and statements went unchallenged. The Primoff's were never afforded equal time. The Times, under the Lee doctrine selects what to spew and who is not allowed to respond.
When former superintendent of schools was indicted and imprisoned, for child molestation--a close friend of the publisher of the Times at the time--the paper chose to give the former superintendent a pass. Very little was reported within the Times pages, with nary an editorial on the matter.
Recently, a known predator was allowed to revise a truth with a fantasy derived to elicit public sympathy for a lost cause. The paper, ignored protocol by exclusion of an editor's note, clarifying the writer's political position or lack thereof, and or any involvement in previous or pending litigation.
Candidates running in this election have sent many responses to the paper and its publisher for inaccuracies printed in the Times. Corrections or letters disputing assertions by Lee and others were never entertained or published. Readers of the Times newspaper are deprived of true public debate and discourse. They are focused one way.
CCT: At the center of the issue was a series of false and misleading ads that smeared incumbent County Commissioner Perry Jones, probably contributing to his loss in the primary.
CS: The ads that appeared in the Eagle and the Standard, robbed the Times of much needed revenue; therefore, the Times attacked the messenger, not in their ad pool and create a lie to justify a fallacious argument. They will never receive any advertising revenue from them anyway, why not demonize them.
The Center of the issue is clearly that the commissioners along with Susan Krebs could not counter the absolute facts in the ads, and they chose to create a fictional rationalization. Jones lost the race because he had nothing to give, except to play, ‘follow the leader.' The problem for Jones was that he followed the wrong road without objection, no matter how much it conflicted with his political and moral beliefs as a crossover politician.
CCT: Hollenbeck, Primoff and other's claiming allegiance to the club are innocent until they have their day in court, but voters need to remember the dirty politics that swirled around Carroll four years ago, and the people who were involved with that.
CS: This statement above all else is the most egregious and borders malice. The Times has again reached a new low. It was the Times, Jim Lee specifically, a PAC (RROCC) of questionable repute, and Julia Gouge who led the smear and leer campaigns against the Primoff's and the Central Committee, which Hollenbeck chaired. They were the perpetrators of the most outrageous and dishonest rhetoric ever visited on the county in recent history. They alone had the means and will through the Times newspapers, to destroy the reputation of honest law-abiding citizens.
CCT: Between 1998 and 2002 two county commissioners allowed rampant growth in Carroll while, more often than not, Commissioner Julia Gouge voted against their pro-growth agenda. As a result, the pro-growth contingent needed to get rid of Gouge, and set about trying to discredit her.
CS: This statement is an example of how an outright lie can blossom into a campaign strategy. The growth rate today in Carroll's environs is greater than in 1998-2002. Carroll County had until now, one of the lowest growth rates in the State.
Municipalities in the same period have had double-digit growth rates, burdening all areas of the county. Municipalities work under their own systems and are accountable only to their base. All of us pay for the tax burden of infrastructure, yet the town benefits from the newly acquired tax base, within the towns borders. The County resident has no recourse or say in town government. The towns have benefited from Gouge's silence in the matter. A new open government would deny them the continuation of annexation and future uncontrolled growth. Gouge was successful in her ability to redirect culpability onto opponents in the 2002 race, labeling everyone a "developer," or accusing others for being "in the developers pocket." Gouge is responsible for the uncontrolled growth in the county.
CCT: Using the county's three-member ethics commission, which included Suzanne Primoff, wife of then commissioner candidate Ed Primoff, they made all manner of accusations against Gouge while investigating an incident involving Gouge's daughter, a private citizen. Their own legal counsel told them it was illegal to investigate a private citizen, but they kept on until their actions were made public. Once exposed for acting illegally, they said they had uncovered additional questionable activities traced to Gouge and kept their investigation going.
CS: The ethics commission did not disclose any information. How would Lee know what transpired within the ethics investigation? Ethics investigations are held in closed sessions, and they stay that way until an accused or questioned individual is charged or becomes afraid enough to "leak" to the press. Suffice it to say, most reprimands or sanctions are held close to the vest. Whatever happens, the onus is on the employee or public official to share it with the public.
The commission was investigating a public official for using the Power of Office, to influence a benefit for a family member. No one knew anything, except the commission members and those inquired, until the information was leaked, falsely embellished to include the family member as the focus of an investigation. The Ethics Commission was ethically and legally doing its work, they were performing a cursory review of a private citizen's complaint against a public official. They never commented on the investigation. It was not in their purview, nor does it benefit them by prematurely releasing to the press any unfinished and ongoing queries.
CCT: The state prosecutor investigated all their allegations and found no wrongdoing. Gouge was innocent, the victim of a smear campaign.
CS: The exact wording in the prosecutor's report goes like this; "Viewing all of the evidence and inferences from the evidence, Gouge's participation in this matter has the appearance, if not the fact, of impropriety. Through her inquiries her name and position was used to influence a contract in which the county had an interest. She should not have involved herself in any manner concerning the extension, but her involvement does not amount to criminal conduct." The Ethics Commission was onto something.
CCT: Because of the questionable activities surrounding the ethics commission, the new board of commissioners dissolved it immediately upon their election.
CS: The Ethics Commission was at the time, in the middle of an ongoing investigation. Who benefited from their removal? What information did they have to be dismissed out of hand? What shortcomings remain hidden? What did Gouge have to hide? The State prosecutor found, "...if not the fact, of impropriety." There was conduct that was questionable for any elected official, maybe not criminally, but there sure was ethically. A new commission was installed from a short list produced by Gouge. The new commission does not pick up where the old leave off. The work begins with a fresh slate, so to speak. Is it possible to ever now the truth? Gouge gets the prize for this one.
CCT: Ethics commission members protested, even filed a lawsuit. The court denied their claims.
CS: The members of the Ethics Commission did protest their firing. The ethics investigation was not disclosed, nor was it challenged by any court. The issue was whether the commissioners had the authority to disband an entire board without arbitration or appeal. The finding ruled in favor of the commissioners by statute. Any commission or board works at the commissioner's pleasure and can be terminated regardless of term. The same commissioner that was under scrutiny demanded the ethics panel resignations.
CCT: Today, the same names are back, along with some new ones, and they are continuing to use the same tactics they used prior to the 2002 election.
CS: They, as it should be defined here, include the sitting board of commissioners, the 9b Delegate, Krebs; the Freedom Area Citizens Council (FACC) and its most radical members; the Responsible Republicans of Carroll County (RROCC) and the Carroll County Times. Members of the RROCC have benefited politically and financially with their campaign rhetoric and false information. They had the venue (the Times), they had the means in the use of tax dollars, and they have in this election continued with the same old parlor tricks. The new faces are not so new, they are members of a Mt. Airy contingent working behind the scenes in 2002, and have been very active in this election. Their political positions are significantly tied, to this sitting board of commissioners. Whenever a private citizen or group of citizens come together and stand up for what is right, a political band of pirates have the ability and means to twist and squirm, to weasel and cajole, to protect and justify their hubris nature. With the aid of the Carroll County Times.
CCT: Those tactics already probably helped cost Jones his job as a county commissioner.
CS: Poor Perry again. Jones was aware of the actions and methods of the RROCC in 2002, as was Minnich and Gouge. Jones was justifiably rejected by voters. Jones wore his liberal propensities on his sleeve, not good in a conservative county. Minnich and Gouge would have suffered the same fate if voters had made a more informed decision at the polls in the primary.
CCT: On election day, voters need to remember the past in order to make an informed choice at the polls on what's best for Carroll's future.
CS: We agree, however we urge readers to diversify their reading habits and vet out the rhetoric from the reality. The past was revisited--almost--the difference this time, they were openly challenged.