You are a mushroom


mushroomThere was an amazing article about Warren in the Vindicator yesterday. I may have to switch subscriptions; what the Vindy lack’s in quantity in their Warren coverage they more than make up for in quality. This is first rate reporting by Ed Runyan. He develops his own sources and digs until he gets the facts. Most important of all, when people in positions of authority tell him something, he doesn’t just run their comments as the gospel — he fact checks. This is something rarely done by the Tribune.

According to Runyan’s reporting, Warren tested for high lead levels in our drinking water back in 2008. It was bad enough that the Ohio EPA required the city to inform every resident of the problem. I wasn’t living here then, but how many of you recall hearing about this? (This includes Howland residents,  who also have Warren water.)

If you didn’t know, don’t feel too bad. Runyan reports that not a single public official he spoke to recalled knowing. Here are some comments from the article from various public officials:

  • Then Mayor Mike O’Brien said he didn’t know about it.
  • Then Director of Public Safety and Service Doug Franklin, “didn’t give a clear answer during an interview” but did say, “We were not trying to hide anything.”
  • Councilwoman-at-Large Helen Rucker:if he (Bob Davis) did alert us I don’t recall it.”
  • Councilpeople John Brown, Eddie Colbert, Cheryl Scaffold and Dan Sferra all said they never knew there was a problem.
  • Councilman Al Novak said he knew about it, but beyond that had, “no comment.


Runyan went so far as to check City Council minutes from the relevant time period and found no mention of the problem. He also contacted Bob Davis, who was Warren’s Water Director in 2008 and now has a similar job in Cleveland. Davis told Runyan he “does not recall” Warren ever having been out of compliance or having received a violation notice from the EPA — both of which definitely happened.

So there you have it. The Warren city government philosophy of communication (sometimes called the “Mushroom technique”): Cover everyone in manure and keep them in the dark.

You are the mushrooms, as are City Council members who are generally treated as inconvenient annoyances in the path of the Mayor and the Safety Service Director.

Posted Monday, March 21st, 2016 under Crime.

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