Have you paid attention to the latest kerfuffle at Phoenix City Hall? The Republic's Scott Wong has the story.
The Phoenix City Council's newest member, Sal DiCiccio, has accused a colleague of breaking the law, saying Councilman Michael Nowakowski violated the city charter when he urged a high-ranking city official to dismiss the police chief.
"By asking for Jack Harris' ouster, Nowakoswki is committing an illegal act," said DiCiccio,
DiCiccio's charge is extremely serious and if proven, could result in Nowakowski's removal from the Council. Nowakowski's, response makes it clear that he takes the charge seriously.
When asked about DiCiccio's remarks, Nowakowski responded: "Sal is a liar."
Wow, he's not claiming that DiCiccio is making a mountain out of a mole hill, or that this practice is common, or saying that his conversation was taken out of context. No, Nowakowski understands the stakes and denies the charges in the strongest and most personal terms possible. "Sal is a liar." A hundred years ago, that response would have been met with a challenge to duel.
So who is lying? Who can shed some light on this serious accusation and absolute denial?
Enter Republic Editorial writer Doug MacEachern who discloses that his sources have confirmed DiCiccio's account. That's a huge addition to the story. DiCiccio is acting as whistle blower and has come forward with an extremely serious charge; Nowakowski denies the charge and calls DiCiccio a liar but MacEachern confirms that he has multiple sources who confirm DiCiccio's account.
But look how MacEachern writes it up.
We know, for example, that despite charter provisions prohibiting elected Phoenix City Council members from trying to influence the hiring or firing of city personnel, they sometimes do. Try, that is.
So, call us jaded, but we were not especially vexed to hear rumors - through a variety of grapevines - that council member Michael Nowakowski was seeking the ouster of Police Chief Jack Harris.
Not especially vexed? What the heck is that? Dude, if Nowakowski really did try to remove Harris then it's an illegal and potentially career-ending violation of the City Charter. DiCiccio steps up to make the accusation and runs into a buzz saw; then the Republic confirms DiCiccio's account but isn't "especially vexed."
Frankly, MacEachern's editorial reads like he's a coasting tweener--too old to change careers and too young to retire, so he's doing what it takes to get by. In addition to glossing over the point that DiCiccio is right, the editorial is cynical and trite.
Check out this line.
Call us shocked - shocked! - then to hear Nowakowski say he may seek legal action against DiCiccio for publicly declaring that Nowakowski has it in for Harris and that he tried to pressure an assistant city manager to give the top cop the axe.
OK, the Casablanca quote has to be the most overused quote in journalism. Dude, that movie is from 1942. Incredibly, MacEachern uses the tired quote TWICE in the same editorial. The conclusion repeats the theme--the Republic has heard from a variety of sources that DiCiccio is right and then quotes Captain Renault once again to show that the Editorial Board doesn't care.
DiCiccio is a political provocateur, certainly. And an ambitious one at that. But if DiCiccio is making up stories about Nowakowski's political machinations regarding Harris, we here at Editorial Board Central can declare with absolute certainty that DiCiccio is not the first to tell such tales.
Nor the second. Nor third. Nor . . . you get the picture.
Politicians carrying on politically?
We're shocked. Shocked.
Maybe instead of quoting Casablanca, MacEachern should quote Gone With the Wind. "Frankly Sal, we don't give a damn"--at least that would have been more honest and less hackneyed.
Or, how about this for a jaded line.
Like we said, Nowakowski's purported pursuit of Harris' scalp was about as "secret" as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's meeting schedule with the CIA.
Talk about an non sequitur. MacEachern again confirms that DiCiccio's underlying charge is both accurate and widely known--the Pelosi reference is simply an indication that Doug spends most of his day reading the Drudge Report.
I've often said that the mainstream media is becoming increasingly irrelevant. However they can occasionally step up and make a difference. In this case MacEachern could have used his platform, his information and his moral high ground to point out that Nowakowski was out of line, that DiCiccio was right and that this type of illegal interference in the city's day-to-day operations can't be tolerated.
Instead he chose to phone it in and go back to Drudge.