Sunday, April 11, 2010
County Coroner Right To Defend Honor and Office
From the beginning when word spread that certain members of the Rock County Board were once again pushing to strip voters of the right to elect their county coroner, I had no idea that this was a public trial on the current coroner, Jenifer Keach. But leave it up to the Janesville Gazette. As usual, they found a way to twist the angle and muddy the waters of truth and fair play. This week was just another usual week for the low-ball journalistic ethics of the Janesville Gazette.
The newspaper kept the scheme by the Rock County Board committee to steal the elective county coroner's office under wraps until the day of the board meeting. By doing so the Gazette shirked their primary duty to keep their subscribers and the public informed while giving the appearance they are in collusion with county political operatives. It should be noted that the Gazette is practically next door to the county building.
Afterwards, on Friday in what appears to be a follow-up article of the board meeting, the Gazette did report that 20 people spoke in strong favor of retaining the coroner's office as elective, but the newspaper headlined instead what amounted to an unbecoming and personal attack letter written by a Dane-UW pathologist, Dr. Michael Stier, against the Rock County Coroner. As understood from the newspaper article, the critic basically complained that our coroner was disagreeable and wasn't doing things exactly the way he would like, and for those observations he infallibly reasoned the county board should strip the citizens of their right to vote. For exercising her right to delegate authority as the county coroner and conclude to a different opinion than his, the pathologist said she was being "selfish and authoritarian." Really.
Still, I had no idea that the county board was going to submit the coroner to an unscheduled public trial for her job performance. This was originally about bold-faced tyranny against the rights of the electorate. They could reply they did not, yet somehow dubious statements irrelevant to the appointee resolution from the pathologist's letter wound up in the newspaper's hands and were published without challenge. A very underhanded if not political move meant to steer public opinion against their intended target.
Yet, it was the newspaper that published this particular critic's complaint against the coroner without publishing in fairness a full response from the coroner to address his attack. The newspaper finished Friday's article with the secondary title "Coroner/Board delays decision to switch," implying an absolute from pure conjecture, and that the board decision to switch was only inconveniently delayed.
Politics aside, like anyone, the pathologist is entitled to his opinion. But blame must fall on him for this sort of intra-professional opinion and report to become public fodder to elevate a cheapshot campaign by a politically motivated newspaper. It's very unbecoming of a professional of his stature and he should be ashamed. In the end, his written statement offered no helpful information to the debate on the appointee resolution.
I also find it very telling of the political motive behind some of the "eclectics" sitting on our county board, that they are willing to strip the office of it's democratically elected official and create a brand new set of by-laws instead of tweaking the by-laws and guidelines of the existing office to help the coroner better serve the public. To them, it appears democracy has no place in the 21st century.
In Saturday's edition, the Gazette published their perspective of Keach's response to the pathologist's criticism, but not without the usual sleight-of-hand journalism using irrelevant and disjointed talking points.
In the end, I'm proud of Coroner Keach for her clear and professional response to Stier's criticism and for standing up in defense of the authority granted to her by the citizens of Rock County. Had she allowed herself to become subservient and forfeit the priorities of the county to an outside influence, she would have proved incapable and not up to the task. Such was not the case.
I know a lot of people still don't want to believe this, but our community's greatest obstacle to social equality, on-the-level government and an informed citizenry is the Janesville Gazette monopoly. The newspaper's biased reporting has been the center of controversy for years if not decades.
Just from the last four years, I have archived over a hundred examples throughout this blog demonstrating a regular pattern of articles delivering a steady diet of political and social class bias by the newspaper. The Gazette incorporates a non-objective form of journalism in much of its local content to manufacture consent for their own hidden political agenda.
No doubt, the superior intellects over at the Gazette would say that a disgruntled blogger is unfairly criticizing them and that my examples of their journalism are taken out of context, false and politically motivated. Yeah, r-r-right.
Note: This posting is the sole opinion and perspective of its author.