October 15, 2002
I was sitting at lunch when a friend came over to my table and said, “You know about the press conference at two, don’t you?” Not knowing what he was talking about, I replied, “No, what’s up?” As he walked away to catch up with his party he said, “Big announcement at County Square. It involves the Democratic Party.” I was intrigued and after wrapping up my lunch meeting, I hopped in the car and headed to the square.
Upon arriving there, I still didn’t know what was going on. There were trucks representing WSPA, WYFF, and WHNS. “Hmmmm,” I thought to myself, “I guess it is something serious.” Inside there were several County Council members milling around along with some other reporters and Republican Party activists that I recognized.
One of these activists walked up to me and said, “Can you believe it? There they are up to their elbows in it and they even left a paper trail!” Further intrigued, I replied, “Yeah, can you believe it?” Of course, I had no idea what he was talking about. Man, we must have some breaking news here!
Ah, here was the press release with some documentation. Ooooo, misuse of funds. . . This could be big! Then I saw the amount, $125. This wasn’t so big. Then I heard the reporters ask their questions. “Chairman Brooks, Mr. Hill says that this was an inadvertent slip and has apologized.” The reporters kept riding the approach that this really wasn’t that big of a deal and I fully expected them to start berating the councilman for being so mean hearted to pick on Mr. Hill this way.
The fact is Mr. Hill acted unethically. Inadvertent or not, he was wrong. Not only that, but Mr. Brooks was well within his purview to call the conference and make the charge. So, why is it that I don’t think it made any difference?
It obviously made a difference to the councilmen standing behind the podium. It obviously made a difference to the activists craning their necks to see around the TV cameras. It didn’t seem to make a big difference with the few curious bystanders that happened to be in the area. It also didn’t make much of a difference to the news outlets.
Probably, the saddest thing of all for me is the fact that it didn’t make much of a difference to me. My first response was “Is this all? Nobody is going to pay attention to this. This just makes council look like they are straining for something to hold against GTA.” I rushed down to hear the conference and CommonVoice.com was actually the first outlet to get an expanded story out to the public (within fifteen minutes). Unfortunately, as I posted the story, it all seemed awfully anti-climatic.
Why? Is it because $125 seems like chicken feed compared to what we have seen over the last 8 years? Could it be that carelessness is the expected thing among our leaders and organizations receiving our tax money? Ah, for the day when our national character would have made this press conference big news. Unfortunately, those days are gone. I just fear that I am being assimilated.