Sexual Harassment Story: Is the Plain Dealer Growing Some Balls?

Don’t look now, but a team of scientists hired by C-Notes has made a shocking discovery: The Plain Dealer may be growing some balls. The evidence arrived this week in the form of a piece by columnist Phillip Morris. On Tuesday, he questioned the leadership of City Council President Martin Sweeney, who tried to pay Council Clerk Emily Lipovan $56,000 to leave quietly after she claimed that Sweeney sexually harassed her. Though both the council and Mayor Jackson initially supported the hush payout, the plan blew up after The PD aggressively hunted down the reason behind the mysterious payment. Morris followed yesterday with a column questioning Sweeney’s leadership – and all but proclaiming his career in politics dead. While it’s a relatively small story in the grand scheme of city thieving, it’s hopefully a sign that the paper will begin to hunt bigger game. It’s done some admirable work – like Regina Brett’s civility campaign -- but The PD’s tendency has long been to take on easy targets, such as dope boys and murderers. Our position is clear: We’re strongly against bad guys! At the same time, it’s largely given a pass to city fathers. It’s avoided taking on National City and KeyBank for their roles in the predatory lending crisis. (They’re advertisers, after all.) It’s soft-pedaled the innumerable crooked land deals run by Sam Miller. (He likes to occasionally take out full-page ads too.) And when county commissioners Jimmy Dimora and Tim Hagen recently voted to spend an extra million dollars to hire a firm twice caught violated minority hiring laws, you didn’t hear a peep out of the PD. But the recent takedown of Sweeney, coupled with a wonderful series about the city’s wretched quality of life, may be a sign that the paper is abandoning wooden stenography for reporting with soul. It’s too early to tell, but our team of scientists will report back when the findings are clear. – Pete Kotz

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