It hit the fan, Internet.

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.”

The Pittsburgh Promise has defended Franco and Franco himself said he has no intention of leaving the Promise, but has temporarily stepped down as chair while remaining a full voting member.

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?





90 Comments


  1. John McIntire
    November 18, 2011 11:51 am

    Franco is an idiot for defending JoePa. Luke is an idiot, well, because he’s an idiot. But because Franco’s son ran against Luke, Luke is the wrong guy to challenge Franco. It’s so transparently brazenly stupidly political… as if Mayor Opie has any sort of moral compass. But he might need a compass soon, because his electoral prospects for 2013 are heading south.



  2. Paul
    November 18, 2011 11:51 am

    Here’s a different take on Mike McQuery that I found interesting :
    http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/7243526/an-open-letter-mike-mcqueary

    Quick summary of the above: it’s not so easy being the whistle blower.



  3. empirechick
    November 18, 2011 11:53 am

    You are absolutely correct. I disagree with Franco, too, but he’s supporting JoePa, not Sandusky. I heard Lukey on the news last night after the board meeting, and my reaction was exactly the same: ‘who are YOU to be all high and mighty’?

    My next thought was: This city really really really loves Franco. Maybe this will finally be enough for voters to see past the D beside his name?



  4. Scott
    November 18, 2011 11:55 am

    Ginny, I do love ya, but I am disappointed that you elect to slam the mayor in this case. I have made it clear several times in the past that I share the frequent head-shaking when it comes to Lukey, but in this case, I think his letter was appropriate and justified given his involvement with Pittsburgh Promise and as a parent. In fact, I called Promise and spoke with the director to echo the call for Franco’s dismissal.

    Franco is a childhood hero of mine, too. This is troubling, but there is no way as a parent…heck, as a human being, he should be publicly supporting child rape enabler Paterno. He should step down immediately if that’s going to be his position on this subject, especially given the nature of the Promise organization and its child-focused mandate.

    The mayor is fair game, but I’m disappointed to see that you’ve turned this situation into something all about him. Sometimes you need to put aside the urge to constantly slam the guy. The kids are more important in this case, and Lukey’s perspective is one that I share fully.



  5. Virginia
    November 18, 2011 11:58 am

    Scott, you might be interested to know that the first draft of this post had me on the mayor’s side. But I went away for a bit and REALLY read the letter and tried to understand where it was coming from and that made me say, yes, Franco was wrong. But Lukey is trying to right it with a wrong of his own. Nobody wins.



  6. emstef23
    November 18, 2011 11:59 am

    Listen – Franco is entitled to his opinion, whatever it may be. We may not all agree with what he said or that it was so public – but he’s entitled to it, just as we are all entitled to ours….God Bless America and all that.

    The Mayor stepped WAY over the line here. Despite Franco’s opinion (which I honestly think he spoke without knowing all the facts but from his heart and I don’t think he in ANY way is condoning what Sandusky has done and what was covered up by the university), he IS a good man and he DOES good things for this city and it’s residents. Unlike our Mayor…who I can’t say I know one good dead he’s done since he’s been in office.



  7. Scott
    November 18, 2011 11:59 am

    empirechick, do you honestly think Paterno is above criticism here?
    -he knowingly allowed Sandusky to continue super-close association with the football program for over 10 years after he RAPED a kid in the locker room
    -he sold his house to his wife for $1 in July as a tactic to protect his assets from certain criminal and civil lawsuits
    -he has lawyered up with a mega Beltway criminal attorney to prepare for pending lawsuits, both criminal and civil

    Say it out loud: Paterno is a child rape enabler.

    Period.

    I struggle to understand how anyone can have another perspective on him. Go read the grand jury report.



  8. Beth
    November 18, 2011 12:00 pm

    As my husband often says, “When you’re a celebrity, nothing good can come of people knowing your opinions.” I absolutely DO NOT agree with what he said, but even if I did, I would think it was irresponsible of him to speak up about it. Especially on such a divisive issue. You have to know that you’re going to be alienating on side or the other. When you’re in the position of having endorsements and influence, and being on boards and in the public eye, you have to really think about what you say/do before you say/do it.



  9. Jeff
    November 18, 2011 12:07 pm

    Scott,

    I think you should do a little research about what exactly the GJ “presentment” is and what it means. Here, let me help:

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204517204577042491094936470.html



  10. nycldenise
    November 18, 2011 12:08 pm

    I’ve been trying to formulate for a while now how to put into words my opinions on everything happening surrounding Penn State. All I seem to come up with is, it is sad. This is no different.

    While I agree that Franco probably should’ve just kept it opinion to himself regarding this until the trails were over, he has his right to an opinion. That doesn’t mean that his opinion won’t have consequences because he is in the public eye. It will, and it does.

    Luke, on the other hand, I feel like he is taking this as an opporunity to show everyone, “Hey look! It wasn’t ME that did something stupid and / or humiliating!!” and he will take the righteous soapbox to the extreme. I think he wants everyone to see that he’s actually doing something.

    All in all, I don’t expect much more from him at this point.



  11. Stephen
    November 18, 2011 12:11 pm

    I have my own opinions about the scandal, but the main problem I have is this: how many degrees away from Sandusky will we go? Technically, Tom Bradley and Jay Paterno are closer to this than Franco (they were enablers of enablers, after all) and yet no one is calling for their heads. Yes, this is an outrage, but the black and white is going to turn gray eventually.



  12. tenzil
    November 18, 2011 12:14 pm

    What Franco said was wrong. His opinion about Joe is, in this case, wrong.

    That doesn’t make Franco an evil person who can do no right. People aren’t all-hero or all-villain. Good people occasionally have stupid opinions. Wicked people occasionally do or say something virtuous.



  13. Jim W.
    November 18, 2011 12:15 pm

    It IS a tad “dramatic”.

    My biggest problem with his letter, though, is that he starts a sentence with the phrase, “Being that the. . . “, which is ridiculous!



  14. L-A
    November 18, 2011 12:22 pm

    I was waiting for this post and I agree with you completely. I don’t agree with Franco, but Lukey is a dolt. He obviously wasn’t getting the notoriety he thought he’d get from this national scandal in his home state, so he had to cause a ruckus. Franco is entitled to his opinion and to stick up for his friend, but Lukey should have stayed the eff out of it. Brat. Now I’m going to read the other comments. Have a great weekend, Miss Ginny!



  15. MissChris
    November 18, 2011 12:24 pm

    I am disgusted by everything that happened at Penn State. But what disturbs me now is how so many people are paying the price for the mistakes of a few. Should Joe Pa have been held accountable? YES! Franco Harris should have kept his mouth shut and supported Joe Pa privately.

    Having said that Franco Harris didn’t abuse those boys. Jerry Sandusky did. It seems to me that all of the focus has gone off the abuse and Sandusky and on to people that had nothing to do with it. Lukey has a lot of nerve sending that email. He never makes any mistakes? He never says anything he shouldn’t? He has no affiliation with Penn State and should not let his personal opinions get in the way of the good work Franco Harris is doing with that organization.



  16. Amy
    November 18, 2011 12:32 pm

    I’m a lifelong registered Democrat, I’d like to make that clear. But our current mayor is nothing but a fame whore. He thinks he can pick and choose which famous people of questionable opinions he can hang around with. Snoop, he of public drug use? Totally fine. Ben, he of less than upstanding opinions and behaviors towards women? Totally fine. This was a lame attempt at a child threatening to take his ball and go home in a pout. I’m not making light of the PSU scandal. I don’t agree with Harris either in this case. But the next opponent on the ticket? Has my vote.



  17. Maddie
    November 18, 2011 12:32 pm

    I agree with tenzil. I like Franco and would prefer to believe that he just didn’t think this through. In particular, I found his rationale that Paterno shouldn’t be fired because he “hadn’t been charged with any crimes” extremely disturbing. Paterno wasn’t charged with any crimes because the state’s reporting requirements contained a gaping loophole, one that has ALREADY been closed by some of the fastest legislative turnaround PA has ever seen. Conflating existing statutory law with an evident ethical obligation is a disturbingly simplistic view. Franco should know better, period.



  18. Scott
    November 18, 2011 12:33 pm

    Jeff,

    I have a complete grasp of the situation, including the GJ statement. Thanks for the offer, though.

    I don’t expect my comments to be welcomed here, since this is a known hate den for the mayor. I’m not a big fan of the mayor either, but he’s involved with Pittsburgh Promise and entitled to share his opinion. The overwhelming majority share his view regarding Harris’ comments and how they affect his association with a child-focused organization.

    But……let’s not waste an opportunity to make it all about the mayor!



  19. Monty
    November 18, 2011 12:34 pm

    I would bet that if you asked Franco about his relationship with Paterno, he’d say Paterno is family. So, I don’t really understand all the criticism about Franco feeling that he needs to defend Paterno, or in fact defending him.

    To me, this is black and white. That’s what family does, even if the defense is objectively absurd and the underlying behavior is objectively wrong. Otherwise we got nothing. To expect a man who we all think is a good guy to stand by and not try to help out a father figure of his who is being villified, even if that villification is justifiable, seems a tad naive. We should be focusing the venom where it belongs; this is transparent media whoring just to get a name attached to a story.



  20. Ex-Pat Pittsburgh Girl
    November 18, 2011 12:34 pm

    Is the mayor really the right person to be sending letters to folks that include the sentence “When I personally asked you to join the board of the Pittsburgh Promise, I had every confidence that you would exercise sound judgment in your public life,”? That’s a bit ironic coming from the mayor, in my opinion.



  21. Shelly
    November 18, 2011 12:34 pm

    Luke is an idiot.



  22. Michelle Smiles
    November 18, 2011 12:38 pm

    Franco put his foot in it. He should have worked with a rep before speaking out publicly on the issue – a rep could have helped him find a way to voice support for JoePa w/o sounding crass toward the victims. Or he could have just extended his thoughts to JoePa privately. I’m sad that Franco’s loyalty seems to have blinded him to a horrible tragedy. But it doesn’t make him a bad person.

    The mayor is an idiot. If he had privately approached Franco, that would have been appropriate. But to do what was so obviously something meant for public eyes is just childish. It just his normal M.O. – nothing new.



  23. Ex-Pat Pittsburgh Girl
    November 18, 2011 12:40 pm

    Also, @Maddie, the PA Legislature has done nothing yet to close the loophole. Senator Wayne Fontana has a bill to do so – SB 549 (http://bit.ly/rGzofi) – but it hasn’t been passed by the Senate and still has a ways to go in the House before becoming law. What has occurred in the legislature, though, is a lot of new legislation being introduced to address a lot of related issues.



  24. SpudMom
    November 18, 2011 11:57 am

    Monty, I have to disgree with you. It’s NOT what family does. How do I know this? Because a few years ago it turned out there was a child rapist in MY family. Something that he had apparently hidden well for years. And guess what? We didn’t defend him. He went to jail where he belongs.

    I get that Paterno isn’t the rapist here but family schamily. There are some issues where family doesn’t make a difference.



  25. TC
    November 18, 2011 11:57 am

    I was surprised to see Franco on the press circuit last week. I get that he’s friends with JoePa, and it certainly must suck to see his career end under such a cloud, but he should have had the foresight to stay out of this and now he has to take his lumps.

    But… I think that you are spot on – Luke looks like he is trying to win headlines here by writing a stern letter. Or having someone write it for him – that was a little too verbose for our mayor. There is crazy hypocrisy in blasting someone for failing at their post when you drop the ball on a near-weekly basis.



  26. rickh
    November 18, 2011 11:57 am

    Amy nailed it. Luke is a fame whore and he just had to get his name out there on this hot issue. “Callous disregard”? That seems to describe perfectly his decision to leave the city and enjoy Snowmageddon at Seven Springs.

    What’s next? Removing the Franco statue from the airport? Tool.



  27. Sara
    November 18, 2011 11:59 am

    I agree on all counts. Well said!



  28. Ug Lee
    November 18, 2011 12:01 pm

    I agree with many of the above readers. I’m not defending Franco here, but this part of the mayor’s letter really stuck out to me: “I had every confidence that you would exercise sound judgment in your public life.”
    Pot, meet kettle.



  29. Scott
    November 18, 2011 12:09 pm

    Can I just put this out there for consideration?:

    Politicians do things for public exposure.

    Doesn’t make it appealing, but are we really acting like this is somehow surprising, or that Lukey is the only politician who does this?

    Come on guys….



  30. Bridget
    November 18, 2011 12:09 pm

    While Franco should have kept his mouth shut, and is deserving of some repercussions arising from his comments, Lukey’s public grandstanding is stupid at best. I think what gets me is his overt outrage in this instance. Where was his moral indignation when city police beat Jordan Miles? Where was his angry letter writing stationery when Curtis Mitchell and his girlfriend made ten calls to 911 dispatch, was told by EMTs to walk through three feet of snow to the ambulance, and subsequently died in his home?



  31. Sara
    November 18, 2011 12:14 pm

    BTW, let me add that I tire of the “he’s entitled to his opinion” argument–and that applies on both sides, here. Yes, we’re ALL entitled to our opinions–but when you express your opinion in ANY forum (or really any way at all) you are opening yourself up to other people’s opinions about your opinions. C’est la vie. Yes, Luke and Franco are both respectively entitled to their opinions. And I’m entitled to say they are both full of crap. And then someone else on a comment page is entitled to say that I’m full of crap. It happens every day.



  32. Jim
    November 18, 2011 12:16 pm

    So, Franco, who Pittsburgh deifies, has come out in support of Paterno, who has recently had his deity status revoked. And now, babymayor Lukey has kicked the political football squarely in the direction of Franco’s head, by demanding that
    he resign from the Pittsburgh Promise board. And it is tearing everyone up. It’s like being a kid and watching two adults who you love fighting; your youthful brain just can’t grasp how to handle it all. My gut tells me there is a ton we don’t yet know about the goings on in Happy Valley, and many opinions will change over the coming months. Lukey’s ploy is premature, and in Pittsburgh at least, you don’t mess with Franco’s Army, even now. This could be the kill shot for Luke’s political career. As for Franco, I think he will come to regret his stand in time, if only in private. Still, you have to admire his sense of loyalty. Then again, an over active sense of loyalty is perhaps part of the reason JoePa is in this mess right now.

    It’s gonna get a lot uglier before it gets any better.



  33. Scott
    November 18, 2011 12:20 pm

    Ginny,

    Just saw your comment above, and point taken. Thanks for taking the time to respond.



  34. Bulldog
    November 18, 2011 12:20 pm

    So a mayor who hired a high-powered Philadephia law firm to preempt any public criticism of his own pecadillos as an awol mayor, philandering husband, and immature fame whore feels empowered to stake the moral high ground. I suppose because he parties with Ben & Tiger he’s an authority on “moral” behavior. I mean whatever happened to the whole “people who live in glass houses…” axiom?

    And I don’t have a problem with what Franco said, and quite frankly I’m disgusted that more people in our society have given in to the mob mentality.

    A grand jury is an entirely one-sided affair that basically operates as a 23-headed puppet of the prosecution. There is a rather famous quote by former Chief Judge of the New York Court of Appeals about ANY competent prosecutor could convince a grand jury to “indict a ham sandwich.”



  35. empirechick
    November 18, 2011 12:22 pm

    @Scott –

    I read the enitre presentment as soon as the story broke, and I adamantly called for JoePa’s firing, for the same reasons you outlined. (Although blackshoediaries.com has a source from the AG’s office saying that Joe did follow up with administration on several occasions – we’ll see if that turns out to be the case.)

    I said I disagree with Franco, but he has a right to his opinion. He’s not the only one defending JoePa, and for Luke to proclaim he is ‘not a suitable representative for any organization’ is total crap.

    (And BTW, hiring a lawyer doesn’t mean you’re guilty of anything – unless that lawyer is Jim Ecker, then you’re guilty as sin.)



  36. Pensgirl
    November 18, 2011 12:30 pm

    Thinking through this methodically…

    I think it’s pretty easy to understand that congitive dissonance is a huge part of this matter. The entire Penn State community (of which I am not a part) has been going through it – hell, even those of us who outside of that community have. It has to be exponentially worse for the people who have personal relationships with Sandusky, Paterno, McQueary, etc., and trusted them not just on reputation but on personal experience. So it’s entirely understandable that Franco Harris, who seems to be even closer with Paterno than the average former player, would be having a really damn difficult time processing all of this information, and that his knee-jerk reaction would be that the coach he knows so well and loves like family could not have participated in this cover-up.

    I do think Franco made a mistake in speaking out publicly precisely because of the congitive dissonance he must be going through. However, the same emotions that cloud our objectivity are also what drive us to act, so I can’t blame him for following his instinct to speak out even though I do think it was a mistake. I can see where I might feel similarly compelled if you subsitute someone I look up to for Paterno. I also don’t believe Franco’s statements now necessarily represent the way he will always feel about this situation. He can’t possibly have completely digested this story. No one has, even those of us who aren’t PSUers and never really care about the school or Paterno & crew.

    I also have a measure of empathy for Luke as a parent of a young child – giving him the benefit of the doubt, I can see where his own knee-jerk reaction would be to look at his own child and get angry at everyone involved, then lose his shit when he sees the chair of a board he, Luke, sits on, publicly defend the accused chief conspirator. If he simply reacted, I could understand that. But this is where it falls apart for me.

    It falls apart because, to me, Luke’s demand does not feel like a freaked-out person reacting on impulse. It feels calculated, insincere, and politically opportunistic against the well-known father of an opponent. It feels designed as an attempt to sour-by-proxy the reputation of that opponent, since Luke can’t win political support on actually having done anything worthwhile as mayor. However, given that no one thinks Franco is in favor of or defending sexually assaulting children, even if Luke did make the demand sincerely it’s still not pertinent to his job as mayor, and for me calls greater attention to his collective failures in that role.



  37. Steve
    November 18, 2011 12:33 pm

    I would like to see a response from Franco. Luke has really extended himself on this one, and a well crafted response could have the ability to deal a much needed dose of humility.



  38. Scott
    November 18, 2011 12:37 pm

    empirechick,

    Understood, and thanks for the clarification. I’m sure like me, you’re extremely upset about the whole thing. As a parent, and a Big Ten grad I feel obligated to express strong opinions on the subject, perhaps recklessly, but to be honest, I don’t really give a shit if they’re reckless. I’ve sent a letter to the Big Ten suggesting they be removed from the conference (they’re still the “new guy” anyway from the perspective of the rest of us in the Big Ten). Wrong for me to do that? Maybe, but I feel compelled to send the message. Right now, the whole concept of Penn State downright sickens me.



  39. JH in SqH
    November 18, 2011 12:38 pm

    i am certainly no fan of Boy Mayor, but perhaps his emotions ignited his passion now that he is the father of a boy of his own, and feels a protective love and rages against the possibility of any harm coming to him. Especially from a perverted Sandusky type. But he did overreact. Franco Harris might have been better served had he soft pedaled his support of Paterno & spoken out sooner about the TRUE victims.

    Also–The Mark Madden ‘story’ is a rumor and a sick one at that. Or, if it is true, maybe it’s just too ugly to wrap my brain around.



  40. Butcher's Dog
    November 18, 2011 12:44 pm

    I’m with @bulldog here. The most disgusting part of the post-scandal revelations (the revelations themselves were beyond disgusting; I’m talking about what happened afterward) is all the people jumping on the pile. The “glass houses” and “pot/kettle” comments above are squarely where I’m coming from on Lukey getting all moral all of a sudden.

    And just so we’re clear: Paterno went to Schultz with the story. Schultz runs the campus police, who are real police with arrest powers. Ergo Paterno went to the police. WENT TO THE POLICE, for those of you hard of reading. And he got fired for it (basically). And Franco thought that was wrong. And now we have outrage from all over. PA Legislature suddenly introducing bills all over hell and creation? Puh-leaze. Jumping on the pile, like I said, which is worth a penalty on the football field. Should be in life as well.

    I’m out for a day or so now, so go ahead and jump on me all you want. I’ll read them all, promise, and respond if response is required. Just don’t expect to see it until late Saturday or early Sunday. Truth in commenting.



  41. John B.
    November 18, 2011 12:47 pm

    This whole story has been so difficult for me. I WAS sexually abused and beaten as a toddler, enabled by my mother at the hands of her boyfriend after my dad passed away. I saw the very worst of humanity in the first five years of my life. 30 years later, I cope with nightmares reliving what happened.

    So forgive me, Mayor Opie, when I get just a little irked at the righteous indignation you spew at Franco Harris for DARE having loyalty to someone he saw as a father figure. Apparently in Luke’s mind everything is black and white and you can’t still love someone despite the fact that they colossally f*cked up. If that’s the case, that narrow line of thought frighten me if he were the dog catcher, let alone being the mayor of a large city.

    That said, if Franco said he was supporting Sandusky instead, you better believe I would have been right there with the Mayor, lighting the torches and sharpening the pitchforks.

    So, at the end of the day the Mayor draws more attention to someone who was on the periphery of this whole mess than the man who, you know, RAPED THOSE KIDS. All *possibly* (and I’m just speculating, here…) to score political points.

    At least Franco is sticking to what’s in his heart. I respect that and I’d rather he do that than retract every time others don’t agree with his opinion.



  42. J.D.
    November 18, 2011 12:49 pm

    I do not see how anyone can defend Harris while crucifying Ravenstahl and vice versa. They are both guilty of the same transgression in this instance as most of the people writing about this topic—They made broad assertions based more on assumptions than on facts.

    Harris is entitled to support Paterno, but he is silly to suggest that Paterno should have remained the coach during the investigation of these allegations. In my opinion, Paterno’s firing was a direct result of his egotistical press release in which he suggested that his involvement with the football team on a future basis was not important enough to warrant the Board of Trustee’s time. The public debate on this issue, if afraid, would be much different with respect to the secondary players here had PSU put everyone named in the grand jury’s report on administrative leave.

    So many people here rely too heavily on the grand jury’s report to indict Paterno and McQueary. Several going so far to call Paterno a “child rape enabler” and McQueary a coward. They may be all of these things, but if those casting these aspersions are right, they are so now merely by chance. I think it is important to remember that the story set forth in the grand jury’s report is only a summary of the facts of the case.

    Further, most of the detail is provided only to support the indictments upon which the report was based, which, of course, does not include either Paterno or McQueary. Therefore, there may be a significant amount of detail supporting (or damning) McQueary and Paterno that does not appear in that report.

    We seem to be so quick to condemn McQueary and Paterno for their failures, be they real or perceived, while at the same time quickly forgetting that history is replete with otherwise moral individuals compromising their beliefs and committing heinous acts as a result of misguided authority. This should not make the behavior excusable and it certainly does not make it right. I suggest, however, that we all keep this in the back of our minds, lest we are put in a situation someday that demonstrates the cowardice in ourselves that we are so quick to recognize in others.

    This brings me to Ravenstahl’s email. He seems to chide Harris not for supporting Paterno, but rather for not mentioning the alleged victims. I do not think that Ravenstahl meant to suggest that Harris’s support of Paterno was tantamount to support of child abuse. That would be silly. If Ravenstahl sent the email because he felt he has been empowered to act as the arbiter of what is an appropriate public statement, I suggest he delegate this authority to someone with fewer public gaffes of his or her own. If Ravenstahl sent the email because he deems it inappropriate for anyone to support Paterno, he had better hope that Paterno is not found to have done significantly more to try and address the allegations against Sandusky than have been made public to date. Otherwise, this email will stand forever as Ravenstahl’s baseless contention that two individuals who are heroes to many in the area had lost their moral compass and that neither is a “suitable representative for any organization.”

    The real travesty here is that we may be overlooking that the Mayor of the City of Pittsburgh may have used the sexual abuse of our children to publically disparage a local sports figure, celebrity, business owner and philanthropist whose son mounted an unsuccessful challenge to the Mayor’s office.



  43. empirechick
    November 18, 2011 12:53 pm

    As a side note, here is Syracuse’s response to their developing scandal – clearly they learned from PSU’s PR debacle:

    http://www.blackshoediaries.com/2011/11/18/2571194/how-a-school-should-handle-this



  44. Christina
    November 18, 2011 12:56 pm

    All right … thanks for this post Ginny. It expressed all my conflicting thoughts and feelings.

    When I read the first headline yesterday I was all “Oh noooooo – not Franco!”

    I had a very clear and outspoken opinion about the case and all people involved including Paterno. It was a no-brainer for me: Everybody who knew (or even just guessed it could be true) about what Sandusky did had to go – immediately.

    Franco Harris now made my clear picture implode. I think it is clearly wrong what he did and said in support of Paterno and it deeply confuses me that Franco could not see it himself.
    But all my heart and brain held against it with “But Franco Harris IS a good person for so many reasons.” I am conflicted.

    The mayor on the other hand …
    For me it feels very ugly. It feels like he saw he chance to profit from this scandal and did it with this public letter. It’s like he would put himself in the center of attention with blaming Franco and ask him to step back from the Promise. He did not say it, but for me it feels like. “Looky citizens who shell elect me again, I would have saved the kids if I would have known about it. You can see it now, because I – the hero in this game – remove the supporter of the supporter of the rapist from his charitable position now – in public.”

    I think that is also very wrong and it confuses and disturbs me as well.

    This story … one of the worst I ever heard about on so many levels – from the start to the and I am afraid this is not even the end.

    And just like Ginny said in her comment: Nobody wins.



  45. Uh, Really?
    November 18, 2011 12:57 pm

    Scott — #18 —

    The Mayor made this all about the Mayor, not Ginny or the previous posts.



  46. BurghBuckeye
    November 18, 2011 1:00 pm

    I don’t care about the Mayor or his policies as I don’t live in the area anymore and haven’t since he’s been elected. All I know is that he’s young and likes to be in the spotlight and doesn’t like to plow and salt the roads in the winter.

    Regardless, Franco is dead wrong in his defense of JoePa, and the mayor is dead wrong about both his reaction and his method to voice his displeasure. Asking him to step down from the board is ridiculous. Stating that Franco is not fit to be on the board of any organization and that he has a “callous disregard and indifference for the victims of child sex abuse at Penn State” is beyond the pale.

    Franco is wrong. Ravenstahl is wrong and stupid.



  47. Old North Sider
    November 18, 2011 1:00 pm

    Sexual molestation of children. Horrible, unfathomable. Yet for us Penn Staters, it is our reality — the most horrid act against humanity happened on our campus. It is clear some people should have intervened & stopped Jerry Sandusky. There are so many failings here on so many different levels it is almost unbelievable…. Sandusky having access to football facilities, heads in the sand, cover-ups, a years long investigation announced during a football season, a small fraction of the student body — a few hundred knucklehead students — rioting bringing the University to its knees — no need to go on. Prior to hearing Franco’s comments about Paterno’s firing, I had given Franco a pass when I heard that he spoke out against the firing. Afterall, Paterno was very good to Franco and his brothers Pete and Guiseppe. In my opinion, Franco spoke before he thought things through. I did not initially know that Franco was so passionate and taken active action to try to undo Paterno’s firing. Franco was no doubt grappling with the firing of a longtime mentor and positive influence in his life. I likened it to my 16-year old son like finding out that Santa is not real. For all of the good that Franco has done with non-profit community and how he has invested in Pittsburgh, I gave Franco the benefit of the doubt. I also realized that personal allegiances were at play.

    I worked for Penn State Football for 4 1/2 years ~ I worked beside many of those involved in this tragedy. Years ago, if someone said to me there is a pedophile amongst you, I don’t know if I would have fingered Jerry Sandusky. He had me fooled. I have read the grand jury presentment –I became convinced Jerry is a horrible predator and was shaken to my core. I wondered if everything that was good in my life and those who helped form the person that I am today could be so callous & have such disregard for humanity? I empathasize with Franco — he was going through a huge shock. We had pesonnal attachments that needed to be reconciled. But, not for one minute did we not think of the kids. Many of us felt horrible, in fact sickened. Imagine if you worked with the kids at the Second Mile, met many in person and raised funds on their behalf? I wondered if any of the kids I met through the Second Mile where victims 1-8? Did I miss something?

    Don’t get me wrong, Joe had to go. He became bigger than the football program, in fact Joe was bigger than the University. The day he was fired, he was dictating to the Board that he would go at the end of the season. Franco has to come to terms with this. Joe is now gone as the Football coach & he has to live with himself that he could have done more.

    However, Franco has done more for this City than Luke ever has or ever will. Lukey’s letter smacks of political posturing. I couldn’t agree with @ Ug Lee more. People who live in glass houses shouldn’t through stones. Luke aligns himself with Big Ben, hangs out at Deisel with the young coeds & speaks to us about morality and character. I also find it hysterical that Luke takes sole credit for the success of the Pittsburgh Promise — the Promise is bigger than little boy Mayor Luke. I always looked at Luke as the figurehead behind not the brains behind the organization.

    Pitt Girl for Mayor — Please stop this insanity.



  48. Lisa
    November 18, 2011 1:06 pm

    First of all, thanks to @John B. for his comments. It’s good to hear from someone who has firsthand knowledge of abuse among all of this.

    I’m a Penn State grad, and for all alumni, last week was horrifying, embarrassing, and disappointing. It was a very emotional week to be disgusted by what happened, angry at the way it was handled, and then defensive when the entire institution was accused of being as awful as Sandusky.

    I think Franco was ill-advised for his statements of support for Joe Paterno. But If I was pulled out of poverty, mentored, and given an opportunity to reach my full potential by someone, I would have a fierce loyalty to him, too. I think that the personal connection to Joe, plus the emotions of the week caused Franco to say things he shouldn’t have. I do not condone Franco’s public comments, but I understand why he made them. And I believe they were sincere.

    However, I think Luke’s letter is not sincere at all. This is grandstanding. This is someone wanting to jump on the moral outrage bandwagon and diminish an opponent at the same time. The letter was designed to be incredibly rude, so that it would get attention. If Luke really cared about the reputation of Pittsburgh Promise, he would have asked Franco to resign in a more professional manner, rather than “demand” it with such a bellicose letter.



  49. Jaime
    November 18, 2011 1:14 pm

    I don’t live in Pittsburgh any more so I’m neither pro or anti Luke. I don’t have an opinion on him one way or the other.

    But as the mayor, isn’t Luke responsible for the city and its citizens? From my understanding, Pittsburgh Promise is intrinsically tied to the City of Pittsburgh and its schools. Why shouldn’t the mayor demand that the city, its citizens and its schools are represented in the correct manner? He may only be a board member with the Promise, but he is the mayor of the city at the heart of its mission.

    If the board member in question was anyone other than the legendary Franco Harris would this even be an issue?

    No one is perfect. Luke isn’t perfect for all of the reasons that everyone has mentioned. Franco isn’t perfect and shouldn’t have inserted himself into this debate. Neither one has handled this situation correctly. It should have been done in private. But I don’t understand why people wouldn’t want a mayor to be defending its city and its schools? Why is his demand to cut that association any different than the Meadows?

    Its seems our alliance to Franco and the Steelers isn’t must different than Penn Staters and Joe Paterno.



  50. Joe K.
    November 18, 2011 1:23 pm

    I basically agree with Butcher’s Dog #40, and I largely agree with Franco that Paterno should have been allowed to finish the season. Removing Paterno for 4-5 games solves nothing about this case. But, Franco is free to express his opionion and his employers are free to react to Franco and remove him if they feel it’s needed.

    But Luke? Give me a break. This is nothing but attention-whoring on his part. He’s not exactly a pillar of credibilty about, well, anything really.

    You have to go way beyond what’s in the grand jury report to call Paterno an enabler. In fact, when you read the report front to back, by the end you’ve almost forgotten Paterno’s name has been mentioned.

    I think when people say things like “They all must have known”, they’re really expressing fear that, “my God, is this happening near me somewhere?”. The proper starting point for analyzing this story is to look at an intelligent, manipulative man who used the apparatus of Penn State football to commit his crimes.