Political Hackery in BC
Update II: 5/9/07 – See my most recent post on this subject at More on Political Hackery in BC, as suggested by commenter setaf.
Update: 4/16/07 – I reworked my LTE somewhat, so the version seen below is an updated copy.
Since the chances of it seeing print are somewhere between slim and none, I am posting my Letter to the Editor here.
In addition to the Faux Review (my new nickname for the Towanda PA newspaper) I am sending copies to both the
Evening Morning Times and the Rocket-Courier.
This is in response to the recent accusations made by the Bradford County district attorney, Steven Downs, regarding the deaths of two sheriff’s deputies on March 31st, 2004.
From the April 14 issue of the “Faux Review”:
Prior to the 2004 shooting deaths of two sheriff’s deputies at a junkyard in Wells Township, Bradford County Sheriff Steven Evans had been warned that the shooter — Dustin Briggs — was extremely dangerous and that the sheriff’s office should not serve a warrant at that location without backup, the Bradford County district attorney said Friday.
Evans had also stated in the 2005 Daily Review article that, in the year prior to the deaths of VanKuren and Burgert, sheriff’s office personnel had been at the Dustin Briggs residence numerous times “without incident.”
Evans also said that on March 31, 2004, VanKuren and Burgert went to the Dustin Briggs residence “to find April Harris for her suspected involvement in meth manufacturing (all charges against Harris were later dropped) and to serve a warrant on Dustin Briggs for failure to pay court costs for an old criminal case. … If there had been any hint of anticipated resistance, Mike and Chris would have asked for and received additional resources. These were veteran law enforcement professionals, having over 15 years’ experience between them.”
From the April 15 issue:
The Daily & Sunday Review left numerous messages Friday and Saturday on Evans’ home, office and cell telephones, but none were returned.
The Review also tried unsuccessfully to obtain comment from the solicitor for the Bradford County Sheriff’s Office, attorney Ray DePaola. When a reporter went to DePaola’s Towanda home Saturday afternoon seeking comment, DePaola refused to answer questions, and would not accept a letter that formally asked him for comment on the accusations made by Bradford County District Attorney Stephen Downs.
Instead, DePaola said to see him during normal office hours and threatened to call the police if the reporter did not leave. Then — standing in his doorway – he turned to someone inside the house and said, “Call 911.” The reporter left immediately.
Click the links to read the full articles.
Here’s my response:
To the Editor:
I am writing in regard to articles in the Saturday and Sunday editions of the Daily Review.
As a life-long resident of Bradford County, I am both appalled and disgusted by the lack of professional ethics shown by the district attorney and the Daily Review.
First, Mr. Downs: How dare you?! Have you no sense of shame whatsoever, that you would use the tragic deaths of two honorable and outstanding law enforcement professionals as a political football?
Doesn’t the Bible teach, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”? Before discussing the failures of any department in the courthouse, Mr. Downs, you would be well advised to start with your own. The nickname “Sweet Deal” Downs didn’t simply materialize out of the ether.
Which brings me to the editors and publisher(s) of the Daily Review: To inject your paper into any political discussion leaves one with the unmistakable
impression of hackery and, in this particular case, a vendetta against Sheriff Evans by your paper.
The Daily Review and its staff – for whatever reasons – have shown themselves to be about as “fair and balanced” as a certain right-wing television news operation.
Specifically, your reporter’s intrusion onto Mr. Evans’ attorney’s private property and subsequent refusal to leave, after being told to contact him during business hours. Mr. Loewenstein’s account in Sunday’s paper leaves the reader into believing Mr. DePaola was acting unreasonably, in order to avoid commenting on Mr. Down’s scurrilous accusations.
Perhaps your paper doesn’t believe so, but I would think Mr. DePaola is well within his rights to enjoy a Saturday at home with his family without the
intrusion of an overzealous reporter – regardless of his clients’ names.
In conclusion, Sheriff Steven Evans has brought nothing but honor and integrity to the Sheriff’s Department, and – unfortunately for our county – the district
attorney and the Daily Review have shown a sad lack of the same.
cc: The Morning Times
Sheriff Steve Evans is running for re-election on the Republican ticket, but I will be writing his name in during the primary, and I intend to vote for him in November.
Largely through his efforts, the people Bradford County learned the sheriff’s department did far more than provide court security and run the county jail, and – even before the deaths of deputies Mike Van Kuren and Chris Burgert – he and his deputies worked tirelessly to teach the public about the dangers of meth and other drugs and to eradicate them from the county.
Thankfully, Downs is stepping down as DA. I am undecided between the two contenders, Robert McGuinness and Pat Barrett. Both have served as district attorney previously, and both had distinguished records.
Regardless of which ends up as DA, Bradford County will be far better served than they ever were by Steven Downs.