I’ve avoided the Penn State scandal since my post on it mostly because I’m happy that those the grand jury implicated in it have all been removed from Penn State and that leaves the public to focus on the victims and the upcoming trials.
Lots of shit has hit the fan since that post. Mark Madden let it leak that reporters are investigating the possibility that Sandusky was pimping the kids out to donors of the Second Mile. Paterno resigned for the end of the season, saying “in hindsight” he wished he would have done more. He was fired that very evening. Riots. Idiots who never marched for the abused, marched for the one they saw as the victim in their eyes. Someday they’ll regret that. Sandusky spoke to Bob Costas and took ten seconds to say he wasn’t sexually attracted to boys. The Second Mile president resigned. Mike McQueary is gone but claimed that he stopped the rape, not “physically,” but somehow he stopped it and he went to the police, but the police say that isn’t true. And on and on and on they all fall down like toy soldiers. [/Martika]
Now, we have a local spin on the story and that’s why I’m broaching it again.
Franco Harris, in an interview, defended Joe Paterno’s actions in the wake of the 2002 accusation by McQueary, who he also defended. Not only that, he personally traveled to Penn State to try to meet with the Board of Trustees to ask them to re-hire Joe Paterno. Joe was Franco’s coach and they are seemingly quite close.
I disagree with just about everything Franco said about Joe Paterno and Mike McQueary. Vehemently.
Despite this, I love Franco Harris. I’ve met him several times through my work and through our restaurant. He attended our first grand opening. He sang mariachi songs with the kids. He is a good person and despite this difference of opinion, I believe he is still a good person, just perhaps one with a misguided sense of loyalty to Joe Paterno that has clouded his ability to see clearly where things went wrong at Penn State.
Franco was quickly fired as a spokesperson for the Meadows Casino, which is very much their prerogative, because from a PR standpoint, that’s a sudden and unwanted association with the most negative and atrocious news story in recent years. Some companies don’t wish to deal with possible fallout from that kind of negative association and choose to part with the spokesperson. See Mendenhall, Rashard.
Now Lukey has written Franco a very strong letter demanding he resign as chair of the Pittsburgh Promise, of which Lukey is a member of the board. First, I wasn’t aware that one board member could demand a chair resign. It just doesn’t work that way in the nonprofit sector.
You can go read the letter here. Here’s the BIG part:
“It is my ethical and moral responsibility to recognize that you are no longer a suitable representative for any organization, let alone ours, and demand that you resign immediately from the Board of the Pittsburgh Promise.”
Here’s my thoughts on this:
1. I don’t agree with what Franco said and I don’t agree with him saying it so very publicly, because it came across as very calloused toward the victims. But because he chose to throw himself into the fire, he has to deal with the heat. Some of that heat will come in the form of lost income. In his defense, he did speak out on behalf of the victims yesterday, but the damage is done unfortunately.
2. That said, regardless of whether or not you think Franco should have been asked to step down by the Meadows or Lukey, I think many would agree with my opinion that Lukey went overboard in a very finger-wagging, tsking, fire and brimstone kind of way.
I’m not sure what the Mayor thought to accomplish by handling things this way. The email, which was also sent to the Promise board, is beyond over the top and goes so far as to link to an article about the Meadows. WTF? Did he think Franco was going to read it and go, “The Meadows fired me?! Why didn’t I know about this?!” Did he think the Board of Trustees were all vacationing under a rock? The linking to the article leads me to believe that Lukey had every intention of the public seeing his angry missive.
Did he think we were going to grab our torches and pitchforks and march on Sewickley? Did he do it to embarrass the father of his recent mayoral opponent by writing him a letter with the vitriol usually reserved for an email to the woman you caught your husband cheating with?
It is all too public and angry and THE HAMMER OF THOR-ish. I don’t even know if Thor has a hammer and if he uses it to mete out swift merciless justice but I like the sound of it so HAMMER OF THOR it is.
The email almost reads like the kind of open letter/rant I would post to Rashard Mendenhall after he ran his mouth on twitter about oral sex and 9/11. But I can get away with that. I’m just a blogger. Rashard doesn’t know I exist. I have no power and no connection to him. I’m NOT THE FREAKING MAYOR.
3. I think if the Promise decides Franco, in light of his public opinions about this case, is no longer the best person to be leading an organization dedicated to helping young people access higher education, they would do the decent thing and sit him down and privately ask him to resign. Even calling him would be better. I can’t see them ever taking the angry high-horse tack Lukey is taking.
Lukey, writing Franco a direct letter and telling him that in your esteemed high and mighty state of moral superiority that he is “no longer a suitable representative for any organization” (emphasis mine) smacks of disdain that runs far below the surface of whatever murky waters you’re treading. Franco has been a spokesperson for Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program for decades and they’ve indicated that they will not be making any changes to that. Each organization should choose for itself if Franco’s opinion is worth a permanent separation regardless of what your perceived ethical and moral responsibility is. In this case, all we want to hear from anyone is that it is our ethical and moral responsibility to stop and report child abuse to the police.
You’re the MAYOR. Unlike us lowly bloggers, YOU have to be diplomatic. YOU have to be a grown up.
YOU have GOT to get better freaking advisers.
P.S. I assume you’ll be cheering on your buddy Big Ben next week? That twice-accused-of-sexual-assault friend whose wedding you attended? Isn’t it your moral and ethical responsibility to tell him that maybe he’s not a good representative for his foundation or ANY organization? I mean, since Franco was expressing an opinion about a matter but it was Ben who was actually the accused, it seems to me one of those is worse than the other. But what do I know? I’m just a stupid blogger.
What do you guys think about this? I’d really love to hear both sides of this issue. I doubt there are many that agree with Franco’s views, but are they enough that he should be asked to step down from the Promise? And are they enough that Lukey should have blasted him the way he did? Is my love and respect for Franco clouding my judgment the same way his love and respect for Joe Paterno is clouding his?