When I worked at the Tucson Citizen as editorial page editor, our editor in chief would sometimes send dreaded memos to the newsroom headlined, “You don’t say.”
“What started the fire?” he would demand. “You don’t say.”
“What happened to the dog that got loose on the highway and caused the accident? You don’t say.”
And so on.
I thought again of those memos when I read the story in the Enquirer this morning about election fraud at Cincinnati Public Schools. CPS is now admitting something went wrong when bus-loads of Hughes High School students were hauled to the Board of Elections to vote, handed partial ballots listing only Democrats, then rewarded with ice cream.
But CPS insists it was not an attempt to influence an election. Of course not. The mistakes that are being investigated by CPS have nothing to do with partisan tricks. They’re only concerned that the church vans that were used had too many seats. No kidding. And the volunteer drivers may not have been authorized to haul the kids.
But while the Enquirer story does a good job of quoting the official CPS spin, it has a few gaps.
Were parents told their kids’ first lesson in voting would be a Democratic Party dirty trick? Were they even told about the excursion? What do they say? How about the students? As the memo says, You don’t say.
Was it a criminal violation of election laws? You don’t say. Who were the volunteers? CPS says they have lawyered up and aren’t cooperating. But were any of them connected to any campaigns or groups like ACORN? Does CPS have their names? You don’t say.
Why was a former principal handing out ballots listing Democrats names only? You don’t say. Was there a link to the campaign of Democrat Steve Driehaus, who is desperate for votes in his losing campaign for re-election for Congress? You don’t say. All we get is a standard Sgt. Schultz denial from the Driehaus campaign: “I know nothing.”
What about other Democrats and their campaigns? You don’t say. In fact, the letters to the editor asked more questions and raised more issues about the incident than the story in the Enquirer Local section. But here’s a tidbit from the story: The Hughes High principal who is being held responsible is Virginia Rhodes. Who is she? You don’t say. So I will.
She’s the former wife of former Cincinnati Federation of Teachers President and union militant Tom Mooney. She’s a big-time Democrat and party activist, who served on the CPS board in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
In 1988 she ran against current Prosecutor Joe Deters for Hamilton County Clerk of Courts. It was a bitter and nasty campaign. She accused Deters of extortion but never offered any evidence that he was coercing donations from courthouse employees. It was revealed, however, that she had sent a letter soliciting illegal donations for a judge whom she worked for as bailiff.
She was chosen to run against Deters by the Hamilton County Democratic Party, on a wave of enthusiasm for Michael Dukakis. She lost by 14 points. The chairman of the Democratic Party at the time: Don Driehaus, father of Steve Driehaus.
So the principal of Hughes High, who is involved in a shameful effort to exploit students’ votes for Democrats, is a longtime Democratic Party activist and candidate who may owe favors to the Driehaus family. The Enquirer story mentioned none of this.
Is that because the editors are less enthusiastic about the story than they would be if Republicans were implicated? Or is it because so many people have been laid off from the newsroom that nobody even remembers or knows local history anymore?
You don’t say.