We have done little to hide our contempt for “reporter” Mark Scheer of the Niagara Gazette. His articles are poorly written, extremely biased, shoddy, and did we mention poorly written?
But we never thought we’d be calling for Gazette management to fire him.
That is, until we actually had it related to us by very reliable sources that Scheer is, in fact, taking his marching orders directly from Francine DelMonte, and killing stories unflattering to DelMonte’s allies.
Our saga begins last Wednesday. We’re told that Scheer contacted the Niagara County government and demanded to know why the county had failed to file reports required by the state law governing bodies in receipt of casino dollars, in which the recipients are required to detail how they spent the casino dollars. (For those in the know, that would be Section 99-h of the Finance Law.)
The entire pretense of Scheer’s inquiry to Niagara County, and a later one to the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency, focused aggressively on the assertion—which inside sources tell us was placed directly in his ear by our old friend Francine—that neither entity had filed the requisite reports, which are due to the governor, the Temporary President of the State Senate, the Speaker of the Assembly, the mayor of Niagara Falls, and the Niagara Falls Council President by April 1 of each year.
Scheer was somewhat deflated when, within a few hours, Niagara County had provided him with a copy of the report they sent to all five parties on March 26, 2009. Scheer threw up the white flag, however, when the following day the IDA demonstrated that it, too, had filed its report on March 26, 2009.
The notion of the county and the IDA failing to file such reports would have been a major coup for Francine, and a major scoop for our wannabe-Bob Woodward. But that’s not to suggest Scheer’s investigating was fruitless. Scheer DID uncover, we are told, significant wrongdoing with regard to the filings—just not on the part of Francine’s political enemies in county government.
It turns out that, while the county and the IDA complied with the law, at least three entities failed to: the Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center, the NTCC, and the Niagara Falls School District. In fact, we are even told that Niagara Falls School Superintendent Cynthia Bianco frantically called the IDA asking if THEY had written and filed a report on the school district’s behalf.
So, when we read Scheer’s long-awaited article Saturday, we were a bit perplexed. We asked our knowledgeable source what had happened, and were told that Scheer had buried the story about the failure of the school district and the hospital to comply with the law, and instead wrote a puff piece about the wonderful things they did with their share of the money. And we’re told, unequivocally, that Scheer did this on a direct order from his political matron, Francine DelMonte.
Bad writing is one thing. Killing a story to protect your political friends, though, is something altogether different. Francine’s actions are the actions of a woman drunk with power. Scheer’s though, are a firing offense in journalism. We’ll be watching to see what kind of newsman Gazette Publisher Peter Mio turns out to be.