Friday, December 30, 2011

Post-scandal photo tour of State College

One of at least a dozen blue ribbons that line Toftrees.

Key Church on North Atherton

Window of the now-closed Terminal Cafe, next to Rainbow Music and the antique store on Atherton.

Pi Kappa Alpha house on Prospect Ave.

Apartment building on Allen St., just above Cozy Thai restaurant. The windows say "Thank You Joe."

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Why Bloomberg’s Paterno article is pointless and baseless

How Paterno Put His Penn State Money Above Full Disclosure of Child Abuse

That's the title of the article that Bloomberg published on Tuesday. Think, for a moment, about what information one would expect to find in that article.

There have been plenty of articles written about Paterno and Penn State in the past few weeks that serve no purpose other than to jump on the band-wagon of JoePa haters. Many of these publications, like the Sports Illustrated special edition, don't produce new facts, they just rehash what we already know while waxing poetic about Paterno's legacy. Usually, these are fluff pieces or blog posts written by a bitter CBS Chicago anchor who is just trying to get attention for himself.

But the Bloomberg article wins the award for Ridiculous Paterno Article of the week. Apparently feeling the need to be somehow relevant in the whole Penn State media circus, Bloomberg published "How Paterno Put His Penn State Money Above Full Disclosure of Child Abuse.” One might expect an article with that title to provide eyewitness accounts or a papertrail showing that Paterno purposely covered up the Sandusky sex abuse allegations for monetary reasons.

But that's not what this article is about at all.

The title isn't just misleading, it's factually wrong based on the rest of the article. The only thing the article proves is that there is a lot of money involved in college football. Bloomberg offers no facts to back up their initial claim, instead choosing to pair a traffic-generating headline with a fluff-piece of writing that spends too much time commenting on which sources didn't return their emails. The article is nothing more than a series of dollar signs about football revenue and quotes from people who have nothing to do with Penn State athletics or Joe Paterno.

The only purpose of the article? To drive up traffic on the Bloomberg website and add to the media dog-pile on Joe Paterno.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The short prelim recap

The preliminary hearing, if we can still call it that, was painfully short. I don't care what Amendola says, they could have waived it the night before. Some of the victims were, in fact, there and had to sit in the same room with Jerry Sandusky. I can only imagine who stressful and emotional the whole thing must have been for them and their families.

I was surprised by Sandusky’s demeanor during the brief time I saw him. I expected a typical "head held high" kind of approach. Instead, Sandusky looked rather befuddled in a Gomer Pyle kind of way. His shoulders were hunched, his head bobbled, and he walked like a kid who didn't want to go to school--resigned, but in no hurry. The whole thing was just, well, odd.

So I spent the rest of the morning taking photos of the media taking photos of the locals and lawyers. I overheard more than one cameraman complain about how they all came to Bellefonte for nothing.

But it wasn’t for nothing, it was for Joe Amendola’s big press conference! Nobody but Joe knew this ahead of time, but it didn't matter since he had enough time to spend with each and every journalist. I think he would have sat down and answered questions from me if I hung around long enough. He's definitely a brilliant guy, I'm just not sure if he's applying his smarts to the case or to his own career.

Anyway, here is a shot of the nice policeman who were ready to drop any bad guys who showed up. They were also on the roof for a while and were nice enough to wave at me.

This would have been a nice photo of Armen Keteyian from CBS if the guy with the nose issue didn't get in the way.

And my favorite. It's like a before-and-after but at the same time.

and compare to this one, taken by the pretty lady with her cell phone in the background of the above photo.

On a side note, I've mentioned this before, but Matt Lauer missed it since he's still calling the town "Bell a fon tay," which just sounds silly. Someone, please tell Matt that it's Bell font.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Prelim photos part 1

Prelim day

Check in at the Willowbank building was quick and easy. One unexpected change is that the genpub is not allowed to bring cell phones into the court house, even if it's turned off. That sucks since I won't be able to take photos outside during the recesses. I'm hoping to get a parking space close enough that I can grab the camera, take photos, and get it back to the car.

I counted 37 news vans including 29 big satellite trucks. At least fifteen stations are set up in the grass in front of the courthouse broadcasting live. Sadly, no Anderson Cooper. A lot of the media are complaining about the cold, which seems odd since most of them are from New York and D.C.

Genpub members have to wear a wristband and a badge. Without both of these, we won't be let in.

Monday, December 12, 2011

GenPub's prelim prep work

Prelim viewers from the general public, of which I am one, have to report to the Willowbank Building on Holmes and Willowbank streets between 5:00-7:00am to check in. From there, we can enter the courthouse between 7:45-8:15am. If you’re not familiar with Bellefonte, the Willowbank building is, according to Google maps (see below) a 0.6 miles walk from the courthouse. The distance isn't too far but it's up a steep hill, some of the sidewalks are out, and its a busy and narrow road. I realize the court employees have bigger concerns than how the genpub will get around, but it does complicate things.

My plan is to park at Willowbank around 6:00am, sign in and get the papers they’ll have for me about “decorum” and then drive to somewhere around Linn Street. I used to live on Linn so I know the alleys and side streets well.

Although reporters can tweet from the court room, the genpub cannot. I will, however, be posting photos from outside the courthouse and can give updates during the recesses.

The genpub has been told that there will be an area outside the courthouse where we can gather to be interviewed. Although I doubt I would do it anyway, a bout of laryngitis will prevent me from speaking on camera. If you see any live shots and notice someone in a blue sweater popping cough drops, that's me.

I'm excited about going because this case has really gotten under my skin, but I feel so bad that the victims have to go through this. I hope they aren't on the stand for too long and that Amendola backs off. It is just preliminary, it's not like anyone expects the charges to be dropped.

I keep expecting to get an email saying that Sandusky waived it and the hearing is cancelled. But since it's not coming, I'd better head to bed. My 4:30am wake up call will be here soon.

Bellefonte's calm before the storm

Drove past the courthouse today to scope out parking and saw some news folks doing an interview on the front steps and CBS Philly was filming b-roll at Tallyrand Park, but for the most part Bellefonte was quiet.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Sandusky trial seating

Just received an email that I have a seat in Tuesday's preliminary hearing. Email text below.

Sent from

You have been selected through a random lottery for an assigned seat for the preliminary hearing of Commonwealth vs. Sandusky. This hearing will be held on Tuesday, December 13, 2011, at 8:30 a.m.

In order to receive your seating pass, you must report to the Willowbank Building, 420 Holmes Street, Bellefonte, PA 16823, on Tuesday, December 13, 2011, between 5:00 a.m. to 7:00 a.m. You will be required to present photo identification in order to get your pass for admittance. You will, also, receive information regarding mandated conduct during the preliminary hearing.

Members of the public will be admitted to Courtroom #1 of the Centre County Courthouse between 7:45 a.m. to 8:15 a.m. No one will be admitted to enter the Courtroom after 8:15 a.m., except as otherwise authorized by the Sheriff.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Penn State BOT needs a lesson in basic parenting

Most of the time, parents are just making stuff up as we go along, but there is one hard and fast rule we all try to follow--prevent tantrums and meltdowns before they occur. If a child needs a nap at 2:00pm, but you know that you’ll be stuck at Wegmans right around then, bring along a favorite book or a cookie to keep them quiet and happy and shop as fast as you can. The same with meals. If you are at a notoriously slow restaurant and your child missed his mid-afternoon snack, it’s time to pull some Goldfish or gummy worms from the emergency stash in your bag. Most importantly, a parent has to be prepared to anticipate the tantrum in advance and be ready to head it off.

And then we have the Penn State Board of Trustees. I wouldn’t normally use the phrase "like a deer in headlights" to describe a group of highly educated, well established leaders for one of the largest universities in the country, but they were.

Everyone knew back in the spring that a grand jury investigation was taking place thanks to Sara Ganim’s article Jerry Sandusky, former Penn State football staffer, subject of Grand Jury Investigation. That article ran on March 31. The BOT knew then that something, potentially very bad, was coming to Penn State.

Instead, they waited, hoping, maybe, that it would just all go away.
Of course, it didn’t. Instead, the media descended and the BOT and the administration just stood there with their hands in the pockets.

The news about the indictments came out late Friday/Saturday morning. The Board of Trustees didn’t spring into action until Wednesday. WEDNESDAY! The students, by now, had been protesting and chanting for at least two days as rumors started swirling that Joe Paterno might be fired. He announced in the morning that he would retire after the season, which shocked and upset thousands of students.

But word began circulating that the Board was having an emergency meeting that night. By now, the students were charged up. They’d been chanting and peacefully, though noisily, gathering in larger groups as the day went on and classes let out. After hearing conflicting reports all day, everyone learned that the Board would be making an announcement at 10:00pm.

Right here. This is where a lesson in good parenting could’ve made all the difference. The Board knew that the students were anxious and angry, upset about Paterno, and were already roaming in large groups across campus and downtown. By this time, many of them had been drinking. A lot. And these students have demonstrated a proclivity to violence in the past--this is the same population who rioted, for no apparent reason, during Arts Fest several years ago.

Knowing all this, the Board chose to make their announcement, the biggest announcement, perhaps, in the history of Penn State. What they should have done was release a blanket statement saying “The past few days have been difficult on all Penn Staters, but there is work to be done. We will hold a meeting tomorrow morning to announce, in detail, our decisions.” That’s it. How hard would that have been? The next morning, half of the students would have been tucked away in class and not roaming the dimly lit streets of downtown. People don’t riot much in the daytime and, even if they had, the police force would have had more time to prepare.

The students are ultimately to blame for their actions. I hope many of them are identified and prosecuted. The Board, however, needs to realize that their leadership and choices were irresponsible.

What the Board did was the equivalent of a parent letting their child miss a snack and skip their nap and then telling the child, in the midst of a meltdown, that “By the way, your fish died” or “Christmas is cancelled this year.”

An effective parent diffuses the situation before delivering bad news. It gives everyone a chance to regroup and pull themselves together before the proverbial other shoe drops.

If the Board messes up an announcement like that so badly, what else are they screwing up?

I admit, this is a lousy picture. But it was taken around 5:00. Imagine how spirited everyone was by 10:00.