OK. I guess I should have given Ron Harper more than two hours to respond to my email about Gibson C. Armstrong and his alleged use of state staffers for campaign work. About nine hours after the deadline for my column last week, Mr. Harper sent a response.
Turns out that Harper simply didn't want to waste his time on a story that was already in the newspapers. Since Harper's work as the editor and publisher of 5thEstate.com is unpaid, Harper wants only to spend his time on other stories that are unique to his Web site, like the convention center. No one has ever read a single word about that story in any of the local papers.
But his philanthropic work as our local ethics crusader leads me back to a question I asked years ago in a column: how does the guy make a living? I always thought that muckraking would be nice work if you could get it, but apparently raking the muck not only doesn't pay well, it doesn't pay at all. So how exactly does Harper earn a living and still have enough free time to make it to the local airport authority office to demand documents, as well as hunt down irresponsible or unethical spending where ever it may lie, unless of course that irresponsible or unethical spending is already being covered by local newspapers?
It was with some trepidation that I clicked on to 5thEstate.com to see what the headline story was this week, but all I found was the untold, unique-to-5thEstate story about the convention center that all the other local media has completely ignored for years. My fear was that I would go to the site and discover that he had blown the lid off the story of a local columnist and his questionable ethics. According to his e-mail, Harper insinuated that yours truly has exhibited ethical behavior that wasn't to his liking. To quote him directly, "Ewwww. Yuke on your ethics."
Now, I'm not quite sure how one goes about yuking on another's ethics, but I thought perhaps he might have a point. I responded to his email with an offer to yuke on my ethics right here in my column. But I guess this goes right back to the whole not-covering-a-story-that's-in-a-newspaper-thing. If my lid was going to be blown off here and not on 5thEstate, he had no interest. Well, he didn't respond to my offer, anyway.
So he's left it up to me to expose myself. Well, not literally. If I exposed myself in a family newspaper, it would not only be unethical, but downright perverted and creepy. Instead, I will simply reveal what I have done that makes Harper want to yuke on my ethics:
I have done some photography for Bryan Cutler, Gibson C. Armstrong's opponent in the primary election for State Representative in the 100th District.
To rectify the situation, I will immediately forward a donation to the Armstrong campaign equivalent to the exorbitant fee I've received for my work, which has obviously influenced the way I have written about Armstrong. Nevermind the fact that I have blasted Gib C. in this column for years before I ever even heard of Cutler.
So if Armstrong can provide an address for his campaign headquarters, I will immediately forward him a check for $0.00.
Bill Rudick would also love to meet the voter who pulls the lever for Cutler based on the beautiful photo of his family found on his campaign brochure. Rudick's email is email@example.com.