August 15, 2014
It’s once again time to look back on the week that was.
CHEERS… to Dale Blachford of Liberty Bank, Larry Franklin of CNB Bank and Trust, and Rob Schwartz of The Bank of Edwardsville for their support of the Alton School District’s athletic field complex project. The total cost of the project is estimated to be $4 million and these community bankers are working to reach that goal.
JEERS… to the Alton Police Department for the evidence debacle impacting approximately 130 cases. It’s been overshadowed by another situation in a nearby town in Missouri, but this is a big deal. It’s early in the investigation and time will likely tell what actually happened, but at the very least this makes a prosecutor’s job much more difficult.
CHEERS… to the Alton Police Department and Alton Mayor Brant Walker…yes, you read that correctly. Once the Telegraph first learned of the missing evidence, APD Chief Jason Simmons and Walker were out front with their statements of disappointment and provided details on what actions were being taken who would be investigating. This is a black eye for the department, but it can minimize the damage by being proactive, transparent and putting together a new system of oversight so this never happens again.
JEERS… to Ferguson, Mo. Chief of Police Thomas Jackson and St. Louis County Police Chief John Belmar. On Wednesday officers under Belmar’s command (presumably since no one seems to want to say who was in charge Wednesday night) arrested two journalists and a St. Louis alderman and also shot tear gas and rubber bullets at a TV crew. At a Thursday press conference attended by the Telegraph, Jackson seemingly had no idea any of that happened. Then, on Friday, Jackson released the name of the officer that killed 18-year-old Michael Brown but also announced Brown was a suspect in a robbery. Jackson did this without consulting the new security boss in Ferguson, Capt. Ron Johnson of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, and without consulting Missouri Governor Jay Nixon. Whoever is consulting Jackson needs to find a new line of work.
CHEERS… To Rob Giner and Tanner Brodhagen of Stillwater, Minn. who are floating their way toward New Orleans on a homemade raft. To have the gumption, let alone the free time, to undertake this Twain-like adventure is something you do not hear of very often. We hope they complete their adventure safely and have some great stories to tell their children.
JEERS… to NBC Nightly News which — during a stand up outside a Ferguson Fire Station with Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill — stealthily captured a certain hungry newspaper editor searching on his phone for the nearest place to stuff his face. View the video at www.nbcnews.com/storyline/michael-brown-shooting/missouri-gov-puts-highway-patrol-charge-ferguson-n180891 or check out the screen grab with this story.
THE WEEKLY WHAT… The tragic loss of life and the potential of racism within involved police departments are cleary very disturbing story lines on their own, but the lack of solidarity and leadership by authority figures in Ferguson is notable. Nixon took too long to move into the spotlight and the Ferguson chief continues to go rogue, announcing more information about Brown’s death investigation without even informing Nixon or Capt. Johnson. At Wednesday’s press conference, several reporters asked Jackson if Darren Wilson was the officer involved. He stumbled through his response, sending up red flags in the process. Additionally, the St. Louis County prosecutor contacted a Post-Dispatch reporter and blasted Nixon for having Johnson take over the show in Ferguson, all while scenes of peaceful protest and healing emerged after Johnson arrived. We suspect this entire situation will serve as a public relations lesson to those in that field of how not to handle a tragedy of this magnitude.