There are nervous insiders in the capital city; who's next?
This morning, I sat down with Steve Stewart, Executive Editor of Tallahassee Reports, and you can listen to the interview below. Then, some thoughts.
I told you.
Years ago I told you.
When I began to get email and phone calls about the questionable dealings of elected City of Tallahassee officials and a handful of very influential "insiders" I routinely discussed the stories. However, I was not, and still am not, an investigative reporter.
By making these "things" topics on the show I was targeted. A sitting City Commissioner tried to have me fired. Once, at a local parade, he even...wait for it...flipped me off in public. LOL, SMH. I have been given the cold shoulder by many, if not most, City officials (elected and appointed) and have been called rather unflattering things. It was, and is, worth it. Being attacked by this crowd in a badge of honor.
My employer, iHeart Media was not moved by the Commissioner. It stood like a rock for me.
Talking about the stories, issues, topics, and, on occasion, rumors led to a few things (and I take no credit for any of this) in no particular order:
- Dr. Erwin Jackson stumbled upon my program. A longtime Democrat, with a strong libertarian streak and a profound sense of right and wrong, Dr. Jackson began to look at the troubling reports for himself. He was dismayed at what he learned and he began to ask questions, get some answers, and file ethics complaints.
- Many of those ethics complaints were vital in the FBI's investigation and the Grand Jury indictments because it placed key people under oath. (You owe Dr. Jackson a HUGE debt of gratitude).
- As an aside the Tallahassee Democrat frequently dismissed Dr. Jackson's concerns, worried, I guess, about its friendships will all of the local elected officials and insiders. It also attempted to marginalize Dr. Jackson in descriptions of him.
- Steve Stewart caught the show, too. He has the inquisitive nature which comes from being an analyst. He, too, was troubled by what he was hearing. After doing his own brand of checking the public record he, and his wife, took the courageous step of starting Tallahassee Reports and, soon thereafter, ran for office.
- It took unethical campaign violations by incumbent John Marks' campaign to defeat Steve by a narrow margin at the voting booth. We can look back at this moment as defining. I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever had Steve been elected to the commission the City of Tallahassee would not be the embarrassment to the community, state, and soon the nation, it has become.
Tallahassee Reports became what the Tallahassee Democrat, WCTV, and WTXL should have been...an outlet for objective reporting and a source for the unwashed truth. Time and time again the pages were filled with breaking stories. Stories backed by documents, named sources, and the public record.
Had the other media outlets, some now pretending to be the beacon of dogged reporting, done their collective job I will hazard to say we would not be here.
But, previous executive editors took walks with the now indicted Commissioner Scott Maddox. They were buddies. Others sat on boards with insiders and the elect few...too close, too friendly to print or report what they knew was happening.
Other outlets flat pushed out reporters who dared to ask questions, never disclosing the fact that inside their doors were family members of elected officials and insiders which created an unfathomable conflict of interest. They also had a huge concern over the bottom line of their ledgers. Insiders threatened to move money or stop spending for advertising and telling (coercing?) others to do the same.
So, we are now at the beginning of the end. Finally.
Indicted on dozens and dozens of counts are former Mayor and current Commissioner Scott Maddox and the current Executive Director of the Tallahassee Downtown Improvement Authority, Paige Carter-Smith. Here's the press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office.
My prediction is there will be others and may include former elected officials and insiders (though some may have or may cut deals). I also think the previous look at former Mayor John Marks will get a fresh set of eyes because his former partner and BFF Harold Knowles is allegedly singing like a proverbial canary in a federal case in Georgia.
In the meantime, here's the Tallahassee Reports story on the indictments which is, primarily, a link to the actual Grand Jury Indictment. Nearly every single example inside the indictments was discussed on my show. Covered by Tallahassee Reports. Pointed out, called out by Dr. Erwin Jackson.
I also have sources telling me it will likely get uglier when the whole truth comes out...intimidation, threats, racketeering, extortion, bribery, and more.
Brace yourselves. It's ugly. Real ugly. The good news is the sun will come up on this community because it is full of great and amazing people. It's time. It's about time.