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.