“Puppy Gate” and “Coming in on a Wing and a Prayer”

Our purpose is to focus on the “411 on the Mayor and Commissioners of the Town of Elkton” but the current confusing political tangle involving Cecil County Government and the SPCA has Someone Noticed distracted from its core mission.  We hope this will get resolved professionally by the political leadership but the only way to do that now that the county has stumbled through yet another misstep is to not have a Cecil County Government Committee conduct the investigation.  We can’t imagine given what we’ve heard and seen, including serious allegations, some that have been around since October of last year when an attack was launched on a reporter investigating it and the political missteps on the part of a number of stakeholders, including county government, that this is now a good idea, if it ever was.  What is needed is a truly independent examination, not one by a committee headed by someone experienced at running Cecil County political campaigns and working in public relations.  That type of fact-finding may never have convinced many people, but it sure won’t now with all the serious charges, allegations, and even more rumors zipping around the World Wide Web.

After the commissioners meeting it appeared this independent Attorny General directed study was going to happen, but then the blogosphere erupted overnight with its latest cluster of rumors.  We are the first to admit that there are way too many rumors on this and the Net is not the place you will ever establish fact-finding.  This last eruption was generated by a  good intentioned effort and had no other purpose but to try to straighten the  mess out but it only tossed more fuel on the fire, we think.  But that, along with the tremendous amount of bad publicity for the county, the SPCA, and others, is a problem and the commissioners do not want to give anyone the opportunity to portray it as an inside investigation designed to protect anyone (the net will take care of that for them).  We don’t think this was the case, but don’t create rumor incubation opportunities with even the slightest hint that such potential exists.  As often happens with the Internet, there’s usually some foundational elements to a story, but the the amplification and multiplication factors create more noise.  That is what appears to have happened with the SPCA board meeting when Tari Moore attended the meeting not to be a Public Relations Consultant for the SPCA Board, but to consider heading an investigation for the commissioners.

Please commissioners, please commissioners do what you said you were going to do Tuesday night, have the Attorney General’s Office investigate it and quietly manage this public relations mess for the county.  Once everyone stops contributing to the decibel level, things will quiet down so the important process of finding out if these allegations are true can move along.  It wasn’t too many months ago that the Mayor and Commissioners of the Town of Elkton gave the Elkton Alliance an additional $10,000 to help it market the town to BRAC workers.  This mess is  causing far more damage to the BRAC Marketing effort than any additional amounts of the public’s money can fix.  The county marketing officials have commented many times about how special interest groups in New Jersey have Cecil County on keyword searches so they can gather adverse news.  Well this one is the story that keeps on deliverying on the headlines. 

We want to write a lot more about this and we want to do what is called slow blogging, which means to craft more reflective pieces.  But for these midnight hour jottings we’ll let this stand tonight.  We’ll get back to the subjects shortly, perhaps calling our one headline “Coming in on a Wing and a Prayer” because we’re a little (just a little) hopeful that the county will pull this off the right way now.  Every time we think it’s moving in the right direction something happens to spin it to yet another higher level.  Oh what a case study on how not to manage a public relations fiasco.

We’ll also prepare a more insightful article on how blogs are changing governance for elected officials at the national and local level.  Perhaps we’ll call that one “Puppy-Gate,” playing off the way blog were involved in major incidents with Trent Lott and Dan Rather.  Too often in communities across the country reporters are too worried about being friendly to the political leadership so the challenging questions are not asked and only one side of the issue comes through,  That’s a real problem in the nation as newspapers have lost their zeal for going after stories that sell papers.


7 responses to ““Puppy Gate” and “Coming in on a Wing and a Prayer”

  1. it seems like everyone needs to take a deep breathe, close their mouths, and let the state attorney general’s office do their job. all the politicians, including Del. Smigiel, need to be quiet and stop saying and doing things that make the county look bad to the BRAC people. the local state attorney should not get into this either. just send it all to the state Attorney General so we can stop all the local politics.

  2. Louise:

    Thanks for posting. We couldn’t agree more, but can they “close their mouths” as you suggest? All Cecil County politicians at all levels (county & state) just need to make sure it is getting done independently as you state clearly above. That’s the right thing to do for all stakeholders. Find out, in an independent study that most people will accept, if any of this is true (remember these are allegations) and if so take the appropriate corrective actions.

    That appeared to be underway Tuesday evening when the Board of Commissioners said the Attorney General was being asked to take the case. But oh what a half-life that impression had.

  3. Pingback: “Puppy Gate” & “Coming in on a Wing and a Prayer « The Official Blog of Delegate Mike Smigiel

  4. I disagree. People need to keep this story alive until a truly independent investigation is initiated, and every stray or neglected dog and cat can count on the local animal shelter to shelter them. I think my animal loving friends will agree…our fight has only just begun. We who are dedicated to animal welfare will not be quieted.

  5. I feel the story needs to be kept in the forefront until we see progress. For years these problems festered. We trusted their Board and our government to do something in face of all the complaints, and for years NOTHING happened. This cannot be swept under the rug any more.

  6. Janelle & Synge Delgato:

    Thanks for posting your thoughts. We don’t disagree on the basics of this thing. For the good of everyone, including the animals and the SPCA employees, this thing needs to be independently investigated by believeable parties. If these allegations are untrue what better way to clear everyone’s name, but what occurs to us is why didn’t they do that a long, long time ago when these things were surfacing. Can you imagine if you could go before the Baltimore television stations and smile and say to them, look at this report done by (some real independent expert; not Cecil County government). They cleared us of everything. That would be the way to contain this mess before it became a conflagration.

    One more thought as we dispending suggestions. The way to make a determination is not to have a consistent practice of attacking whenever a complaint is generated. As that method piles up, it only makes one much more suspicious. No the right thing to do is to take complaints seriously and have them investigated.

    As for “coming in on a wing and a prayer” we actually were hopeful that was going to happen Tuesday night when the President of the board of Commissioners said it was going to be independently investigated. Of course then what happens, but Commissioner Hodge goes down with his campaign manager to see about heading a taskforce to review it. BTW, Commissioner Hodge called to explain that situation, indicating that it was not to have his campaign manager serve as a Public Relations person to resolve the perceputal problems at the SPCA, but instead to have her run a taskforce reviewing the operation. We thank him for that explanation. However, what a big perceptual blunder to even get associated with that. You would generally think that those experience with managing images would’ve thought better than allowing the potential for that pereception to get created. Then too if you were going to head up an investigation, let’s make sure create potential problems from step one. But whatever it should be just chalked up as one more in a series of many misteps because we do think the commissioners want to move forward and get this fixed.

    On as for your point about too much talk or pressure. We agree it took one heck of a lot of noise to raise this to the level where the county’s political leadership was going to see that things were going to get done. That’s ashame too, but whatever. It does appear that its going to take continued noise to just be safe and assure that it continues to move forward now. But really if you’re going to meet with the SPCA board (which wasn’t a good idea), at least make sure the parties all don’t leave there talking to freinds or whomever about it. Cecil County has a reputation that sometimes challenges the speed with which the Internet can move rumors.

    We say please commissioners, please just do the right thing which will contain this. Have the most believe independent sources investigate this thing so we will know if the allegations are true and if so corrective actions can be taken. it really isn’t that hard considering how much trouble and confusion this has caused.

    Thanks to both of you for posting your thoughts on one we wrote earlier.

  7. Oh forgot one important thing. The SPCA topic is on the County Commissioners Agenda for tomorrow morning, so perhaps we’ll get an official update on how the commissioners are advancing at getting this independent investigation going now.

    We do believe they want that and probably what happened a couple of days ago has reinforced the need for the investigation to be as independent and trusted as absolutely possible.

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