Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Tonight .. I've spoken with some folks closer to Terril, and I'm learning that his levels of deception show no barrier he was unwilling to cross. I'm floored at what he was able to pull off even outside of his military masquerade.
One veteran told me today that he hopes others in uniform will pack the courtroom when this guy goes before a judge. We'll see what happens.
More to come .. Eric
School leaders were shocked by our findings. Hear their reaction tonight in Part 2 on Channel 3 News at 6.
Monday, September 29, 2008
If you haven't heard, the $700 billion bailout bill failed 228 to 205 with more than half of Democrats but only a third of Republicans providing support.
Ryan told me that a handshake deal was in place before the vote, but it fell through when it came time to vote. Under the agreement, Ryan claims that each side of the aisle agreed to provide about half of the votes needed to pass the issue so that the country and the markets would feel that it had bipartisan support.
"Otherwise we wouldn't have voted," Ryan said. "It can’t be that the Democratic Caucus jammed this through Congress. We gotta figure this out so we can get some more votes here and unlock these credit markets."
Ryan said that there was no way Democrats were going to provide all the votes to pass this bill just so Republicans could criticize it if it didn't get off to a fast start.
I asked Ryan about the "golden parachutes" for CEOs and whether the defeated bill adequately addressed fears that the rich would get richer, and Ryan admitted he wasn't completely sold on the language that covered CEOs but felt it was solid enough for the bill to go forward.
Still, the bill died.
"Obviously (Sen. John) McCain couldn’t swing the votes and the President couldn't swing the votes," Ryan said.
I asked Ryan if we're reaching the point where individual Dems might start calling individual Republicans, and he didn't rule it out.
"Maybe the Dems can put together our own plan and pass it. This may be (Treasury) Secretary Paulson's worst nightmare if he gets $700 Billion and all the oversight needed and the CEOs are limited as to what their pay can be, especially when the Republican leadership continues trashing (House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi for not delivering."
Ryan said nothing will get done now until at least Thursday as Congress breaks for several days for Jewish Holidays. In the meantime, Ryan said he is just left shaking his head as to Washington's priorities.
"We were denied $35 billion for 10 years for health care for kids because we were told that we didn't have the money, and then to turn around and ask for $700 billion for this?" Ryan said. "That’s a hell of a pill to swallow."
Benjamin Terril was arrested on Labor Day for pointing a loaded gun at another man's head in South Akron. Terril teaches Science at Buchtel High School, so his arrest became newsworthy. Police found drugs, dozens of guns and even some grenades in Terril's home, which begged the question of "just who is this guy?"
So a few days after his arrest, I began to dissect Terril's employment history, and here's what I discovered:
In 1996, Benjamin Terril applied for a teaching job with the Akron Public Schools. He submitted a resume claiming he served in the 82nd Airborne Division from 1975-1991 and included a letter of reference with claims he was wounded in Desert Storm. If true, that would qualify Terril for the purple heart.
What's awful is that none of it is true, and the Akron Public Schools NEVER verified his resume before hiring him.
The district also didn't verify another job Terril put on his resume (a range officer with Broward County, FL) that we also found to be false.
In both cases, I used public records and phone calls to determine that Terril's resume was bogus, so why didn't APS?
Additionally, I used public records to determine that Terril lied about having a clean criminal history. He has prior arrests and convictions, including a felony conviction, that no knew about until I checked it out.
To the credit of APS, the laws in 1996 only mandated a local background check (Summit County) which came back clean. Terril was able to hide his criminal past because his crimes included an arrest in Stark County (misdemeanor conviction for DUI) and another in Florida (Felony conviction for Carrying a Concealed Weapon).
Since he had a verifiable teaching degree from the U. of Akron with strong recommendations from his student teaching assignments, I can only guess that the folks who did the hiring assumed that Terril was worth the investment and didn't check out the rest of his resume before hiring him.
If true, that's a bad reason for cutting corners.
For what it's worth, the employment file indicates that human resources did ask Terril for a copy of his DD214, which is the form that verifies military service. There's no evidence that Terril ever provided any evidence nor is there anything to indicate the the district followed up with its initial request for more info.
Military fakes burn real veterans to the core
I had a chance to sit down with a local man who served in the real 82nd Airborne in Desert Storm, and he put Terril's make-believe war service into perspective.
He told me that phonies don't discredit the military as much as they discredit the person who is living a double life. How can they ever be trusted again?
As a soldier and veteran, it bothers me when others misrepresent themselves, but it really burns when someone goes to the lengths that Terril did. Some troops will embellish what they actually did on the field of battle; even the military has been guilty of stretching the truth to make a story sound better than it is (Jessica Lynch, Pat Tillman, etc.). Yet, when someone like Terril goes the extra steps to use the military as a job reference and then add the extra chest-thumping details of serving in the 82nd Airborne -- to include being wounded in combat -- that's hard for many in uniform to fathom.
Under the Stolen Valor Act signed by President Bush a few years ago, anyone who misrepresents themselves as a veteran can be charged with a misdemeanor and serve up to one year in prison.
I was skeptical from the moment I looked at Terril's resume. If he lied about his criminal history, why wouldn't he lie about his work history?
When I saw his resume indicated that he worked with the "Eighty Second Airborne" I suspected it was fake. Rarely does anyone affiliated with the military ever spell it out like that. It's nearly always "82nd Airborne". How could this guy spend 15+ years in the military and not know that?
Also, rarely does anyone leave the military voluntarily at 15+ years. If you serve 20 years of active service, you're eligible for a military pension. So his separation date was also a red flag to me.
School district oversight
Superintendent David James is at least in a position where he can blame the previous administration for hiring Terril and promise to do a better job of screening future teachers. The district is also conducting new, mandatory FBI checks on all employees. Terril's new check was set for the fall of 2009 to coincide with his teaching license being up for renewal. The district believes that at the very least, a new background check would have uncovered Terril's past convictions.
Within Terril's teaching file was a reprimand for threatening to bring a shotgun to school and kill a student. Several teachers heard him and reported it.
Anyone surprised that a statement like that didn't warrant a stronger penalty? or at least a transfer to another school?
I feel like I could write about this all day ... but we'll let the story -- and Terril -- speak for themselves. Still, I'd like your initial thoughts.
Part 1 is tonight on Channel 3 at 6. Part 2 airs Tuesday night at 6.
Friday, September 26, 2008
Watch Part 1 here:
Watch Part 2 here:
Watch CBS Videos Online
First, I just don't feel that I know her positions any better now than I did before she began chatting with Katie. Palin quotes support for John McCain's policies but seems disheveled on some of the specific foreign policy questions. Maybe it's just nerves.
Second, I didn't quite understand her chest-thumping about keeping America safe should Russia's President Vladimir Putin or other Russian aircraft fly into U.S. airspace saying:
"It's Alaska. It's just right over the border. It is from Alaska that we send those out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation,
Russia, because they are right there, they are right next to our tate. "
When Palin says send those out, it sounds as though she talking about sending U.S. aircraft out to ensure our airspace stays safe.
Since when would that be the Governor's job?
While as Governor, Palin is charged with using Alaska's National Guard in a state emergency, it would NOT be her job nor would she have the authority to order military planes into the air to keep tabs on a foreign military force. That authority belongs solely to the Federal government and the White House.
If she's just wanting a pat because the Federal troops are located in her home state, then that seems a bit hollow because she really didn't have a choice in the matter. It just comes with being Governor of Alaska. I certainly understand Governor's taking credit of troops in their home state doing a good job (Stickland praising the flights from Wright-Pat into Iraq for example) but is she trying to say she has a hand in the Alaska fighter planes' missions?
Does anyone else interpret her response that way? or am i way out in Bering Sea somewhere?
Third, Palin mentions getting credit for foreign policy experience because her state is wedged between Russia and Canada. Now, she's never been to Russia but she has been to Canada. So wouldn't that make the Governors of all the northern states (Washington, Minnesota, etc.) that share a border with the Maple Leafs just as qualified when it comes to foreign policy as she is?
Fourth, I did learn more about her with her comments about Israel. Sort of.
While Palin got a bit "stumbly" with Katie, I think the Governor was trying to say that the U.S. could make its preferences known to Israel without second-guessing how Israel conducts itself with regards to Iran. I'd be surprised if Palin doesn't rework that argument and practice a cleaner response prior to her debate with Sen. Joe Biden.
That's my take on the interview .. what did you notice?
By the way, did you see Biden's mistep in talking about the past? If not, it's a classic and perfect for the Daily Show ... check it out here:
Thursday, September 25, 2008
When I was taken past Secret Service to the interview room, I immediately noticed how quiet it was. I assumed I was just the first reporter to arrive, but 10 minutes later, I realized that I was it. No other reporters were coming. So, at least on this night, anything Biden told me would truly be "exclusive". Of course, I really only think it's worth using that word when it's truly valid ... and genuinely exclusive to our newsroom. Otherwise, TV newsrooms overuse the word when it's really not necessary.
About 20 minutes later, Biden came strolling across the lawn and introduced himself (like I wouldn't know who he was) and then asked me where I served in Iraq. "Excuse me Senator?" I said. "Thanks for your service. Where were you stationed?"
Long story short, I deduced that one of the Secret Service agents had recognized me and had mentioned my service to Biden. With Biden's own son headed into harm's way, we shared a few minutes of military chat before turning on the cameras for the formal interview. I won't say that Biden's candor through me off my game, but to be honest, I wasn't expecting that kind of reception and it set the stage for a more relaxed interview for both of us.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Obviously this is a big week for McCain as the first debate with Sen. Barack Obama is slated for Friday.
Watch it in it's entirety.
Monday, September 22, 2008
That said .. I'm really, really, REALLY glad to have her back so folks will stop asking me, "hey, when is Betsy coming back?" :)
In all seriousness, we've certainly missed Betsy's fun-loving spirit around the newsroom .. and seeing her as a new mom is a joy all its own.
Welcome back Betsy!
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
After his speech, I was granted the only interview .. speaking to Biden on-camera for nearly 10 minutes, and then off-camera for another 10 -- before he boarded his bus for the hotel.
The entire interview will be up on wkyc.com in just a bit ... so you can watch it in its entirety there ... and I'll blog about it tomorrow, including some of the behind-the-scenes moments.
Tired tonight ... but glad to have had access to ask Biden about some real issues facing NE Ohio:
- keeping local students from leaving Ohio because college is more affordable in neighboring states
- helping area families who've faced foreclosures to get back into homes again
- how to help Ohio win the "civil war" with the southern states that are luring our companies to leave town
- ways to balance the benefits for the thousands of Ohio Guardsmen and Reservists so that they get the same treatment as the Active Duty.
More tomorrow .. Eric
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Yet ... did you see the size of the color photo on the front of the ABJ's community section? It shows Palin, her husband, and a local Gold Star mother. It's the best video of the whopping 235 second event .. and the same shot the TV stations showed as well.
Best shot of the event? Sure. But it was also absolute, pure manipulation.
Story behind the story
What the viewers and readers didn't know is that Palin's staff passed out a list of the people who would be at the stairs of the plane to meet her. A local politician, a motivated young staffer, and a few other community folks were on the list .. but the media eyes were absolutely driven to see the name of Pvt. Heath Warner's mother, Mellisa, at the bottom of the list. Under her name was a few sentences about her son and a note that she was a Gold Star mother.
Palin worked the line with a few autographs, got to the end, and hugged this Gold Star mother for all the cameras.
Bingo! Instant press moment without having to do a thing.
My point is that it was all contrived for the cameras. If Palin -- the mother of an Iraq soldier herself -- was so compelled to meet Mellisa Warner, Palin could have invited Warner to ride along with her to the fundraiser. Or maybe invite her to fund raiser. Or a hundred other things. Her words and heart may have been genuine during her 1:00 with Mellisa Warner, but truth is, she could have done it privately.
Instead, Palin made sure the media was watching, interacted with her just long enough to make it look genuine, and then beat feet with a wave to the crowd.
If the media had seen her hug a stranger and then later we asked and were told it was a GS mother, that's one thing. But for Palin's folks to stage the entire event in front of us knowing it was the only video/picture worth reporting is pure manipulation.
For all it's worth .. President Bush has met with quite a few Gold Star mothers, including many here in the area, but rarely makes the meetings public for a photo op. If the families take photos, that's fine. But Bush -- to my knowledge -- never set it up ahead of time for the media to use.
But Monday .. that was "staged" news to play on the public's emotions .. and it was pure manipulation.
Monday, September 15, 2008
- Police say Terril took a loaded handgun and pointed it at the head of another man on Terril's front porch.
- In front of terrified neighbors, Terril made the man walk a line and threatened to blow his head off.
- Police say Terril was heavily intoxicated and also possessed marijuana.
- Investigators seized more than two dozen weapons from Terril's home, including some believed to be illegal, while leaving behind all of the ammunition.
- Terril was charged with three felonies, including carrying a concealed weapon.
- Terril's record includes convictions for Carrying a Concealed Weapon and also an arrest for assaulting a police officer in another state, local police said.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Friday, September 12, 2008
Many of us here in town .. me certainly included .. took shots at the system for the perceived special treatment that five Summit County Sheriff's Deputies received after being investigated and then indicted in a jailhouse death.
McCullough was beaten, maced, tazed, and eventually died while handcuffed inside the jail cell. The deputies said that McCullough had mental issues and was in an absolute rage that night. McCullough's family, and a grand jury, felt the deputies were out of line.
The deputies' indictments were read late in the week, but yet these men were allowed to stay free for the weekend before turning themselves in.
One of the deputies, Stephen Krendick, even faced murder charges, and yet was walking free.
Krendick and the others were booked not in Summit County where they worked, but in Medina County, ... but I think we all understood the reasoning behind that. Nevertheless, they were booked and released the same day.
They then appeared for the initial court arraignment in street clothes and received personal recognisance bonds. And with that, they were on their way back home.
Who gets treatment like that when indicted for killing someone?
It shocked most of us who cover the courts each day.
NO ONE charged with murder ever gets to show up in anything but an orange jump suit and they ALWAYS have to put up some money to get out on bail, and that's if the judge agrees to it. Sometimes it's in the millions of dollars .. and in really, really serious crimes, NO BOND.
For example, like Krendick, Doug Prade was also a police officer charged with murder .. and like Krendick, Prade had months to run and yet stayed to turn himself in when the charges came down.
I'm not saying that the two cases are equal. Still, at the initial arraignment stage of a cop charged with murder, Prade got cuffs, an orange jump suit, and a $5 million bond that he couldn't meet while Krendick got to wear street clothes and was back home in time for lunch.
Can you see why it looked like preferential treatment?
Krendick took his chances with a bench trial -- instead of a jury -- and the judge sided with Krendick on all counts. Now, that same judge accepted a dismissal of charges against the remainder of the deputies bringing the case to a close.
I've blogged several times and also spoken at length on NewsNight Akron that even if these deputies weren't receiving special treatment, there was still an appearance of favoritism and that stinks.
Here's what I didn't know until recently:
The deputies DID spend a night in jail .. and in jumpsuits .. and in a real jail cell in Medina .. before coming back for the arraignment. They were segregated as you can imagine, but did at least have that same inmate experience.
The decision for them to be arraigned in street clothes wasn't entirely theirs. County brass felt that putting these deputies in shackles and jump suits in front of their Summit County peers would be damaging should they later be acquitted and return to the job. Guess what? Now that's exactly what's going to happen.
As for not making the deputies post bond, my source tells me that that was the judge's decision .. and not preferential treatment from the prosecutor. The deputies' families had secured funds they thought would be needed for bail and were prepared that morning to take second mortgages if need be. They knew the judge could set bond in the millions under the circumstances.
Instead, the judge reportedly remarked that he felt comfortable that the deputies wouldn't flee -- which is what bond is supposed to ensure -- because they'd had an entire year to get out of town .. and even a weekend to run after being indicted .. and yet each one showed up to face the music.
That was the most important part to the way this all played out, my source says.
The deputies' actions -- in this case the accused deputies -- was indicative of men who truly felt they didn't cross the line. It pointed more to men who had done what they felt they needed to do under extraordinary circumstances that bloody night at the jail.
The community and the media can second-guess and analyze what these deputies did to McCullough, but in the minds of the deputies who were there that night, they were willing to stand together.
Inside the Sheriff's brain trust, this case continues to be dissected in hopes of preventing this from ever happening again. That includes making sure supervisors are involved sooner than later when an inmate like McCullough gets out of hand. It also includes following procedures -- including using a hand-held video camera -- when teams of deputies are forced to enter a cell with an extreme case like this one.
Sheriff Alexander is promising a citizens advisory committee to making the jail safer for inmates and deputies alike. I haven't had a chance to talk with him about this case, but I'd like to ask him about adding cameras all over the jail and what kind of funds would be needed to make that happen.
I don't know that many in the community -- me included -- will ever forget the brutality of this case or the way it played out (or didn't) in court.
Still ... as a journalist, it's always a quest to find out the truth, and I've learned there was more going on with these five deputies than the public was aware.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
We all remember that we couldn't sleep that night and how we awoke on the 12th hoping it had all been a dream.
On this seventh anniversary, we invite you to share your memories and read others in a special section on our website at WKYC.com.
The attacks of 9/11 certainly touched us all .. and I'll hope you'll share your thoughts both here and on wkyc.com.
Here's a compilation of what my co-workers at Channel 3 remember from that unforgettable day.
and here's my memories as I posted on wkyc.com:
9/11 still feels like a nightmare, even today.
I was home when the first plane hit, and when the second one pounded the other tower, I quickly jumped into the shower so I could get to work early. No reason to wait for the bosses to call; I knew immediately that as a TV journalist, it was time to get in to the office.
I was driving down Market Street in Akron when I heard a report on WAKR-AM that the Pentagon had been hit. At that moment, I realized that the whole country -- and not just New York City -- was in danger.
I arrived in the newsroom and tried to call a news crew that was over at the Summit County Courthouse to tell them to blow off the story they were on and get to the Akron-Canton Airport for reaction. Unfortunately, the judge made them turn off their cell phone so I couldn't reach them.
Videogapher Carl Bachtel and I watched in horror as the first tower fell. It wasn't long before the decision was made to carry local programming on the PAX channel (23) while WKYC carried NBC's national coverage.
We had live interviews with local ministers, a defense expert, and Akron-area residents who had relatives in New York. We also were reporting all of the closures, including the University of Akron and many of the larger Akron businesses.
I remember a call from a woman who asked me, "is it safe to drive?" I told her, "I think so." I realized right then that our lives had changed forever.
I remember saying to an intern, "next to Jesus Christ coming back as promised in the Bible, I don't know that we'll ever see a bigger news day."
Ironically, a news crew from PBS 45/49 was here that day to record video of our newsroom "in action" for a series PBS was doign on local news. Under the circumstances, I was surprised the crew stayed that day. Every time I review that documentary and I see the video of the people in our Akron newsroom working the phones and running around, I remind myself that it was 9-11.
At the end of the night, I was just exhausted .. like everyone else.
I also remember not being able to sleep, and waking up the next morning in time to see the beginning of the Today Show -- just to make sure I hadn't been dreaming.
For the next few nights, our Channel 3 and PAX23 newscasts aired commercial free .. so we all had to turn multiple stories to fill the newscast. It was a tremendous challenge because of the few staffers we had no duty, but we all pulled together to get the news on the air.
When I wasn't here in the newsroom, I was packing my bags .. assuming that the National Guard unit I was commanding would soon be called to duty. While my unit wasn't mobilized as part of the immediate security call-up, I was mobilized a little more than a year later as we headed to Iraq.
All of that started with 9-11. Eric
Seeing those towers come down .. and seeing the wide-spread damage .. plus the early reports that on any given day you can find 50,000 people in the Twin Towers.
Am I the only one that thought we'd have 10 or 20,000 dead?
Having since been to Ground Zero, I try to picture the chaos that day .. and how many strangers were coming to the aid of one another.
Certainly, the thousands we lost is beyond words, but I'm still amazed that the loss of life wasn't higher that day.
Am I the only one?
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
For what it's worth, if she was going to campaign in Northeast Ohio on a Sunday .. she picked the right one to do it.
The Browns don't play until 8 p.m.
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
It's aimed at training college students to react and take action should someone begin opening fire on campus. Obviously, in this post-Virginia Tech world, college campuses are looking to make their areas as safe as they can be for students and staff.
This new approach is about teaching would-be victims to at least go out swinging. To not just sit in fear while someone takes lives. If possible, throw something at the gunman to divert their attention from putting you in the cross hairs .. and second, to swarm the gunman with as many people as possible to subdue him and his weapon.
Now 24 hours since our story hit air, the reaction has been all over the place. Some folks saying that the program is a death wish for students looking to be heroes instead of doing the "right thing" by taking a defensive position to protect themselves. Others think the time would be better spent teaching students to barricade doors and lock the bad guy in a closed area.
I don't think the U of Akron police officers teaching ALICE would dispute those options, as long as they exist. But in the case of a face-to-face, life-or-death confrontation, ALICE was about taking action to try and save lives, or at least lessen the body count.
More than anything, I just want viewers to know that taking part was voluntary .. and not one of the students I saw Monday raised a complaint while our cameras were there. They all took part on their own.
To date, UAPD tells me that nearly 600 staff and students have completed the program.
Is it the best way to subdue a gunman who is out to kill? I have no idea.
I can only hope that a tragedy like this never happens locally -- or anywhere. Still, students need to have a mental plan of survival ... and only each individual knows for sure what they think they're willing to do.
Friday, September 5, 2008
Stephens is the father of 12 who was shot 22 times when he reached for a gun in his waistband in the early morning hours of July 5th.
First .. see it from the officers' point of view: They were responding to a call of "shots fired" in the neighborhood and came across Stephens who had a gun.
Now .. from Stephens' point of view: He was awaken by gunfire, possibly at his home, and grabbed his gun to protect his home and family .. including his son who outside and possibly in a fight at the time.
You can imagine the energy inside both when they came together in the darkness.
The ending is just sad .. and as bad as the community is feeling for the Stephens family, I can only imagine how hard this has been for the officers Joseph Sidoti and Michale Miles.
While civil suits are sure to follow, a ruling against the officers would have sent the wrong message to local police, who are face far more gunmen on the streets of Akron then ever gets reported on the news.
After 10 years in the studios of Kent State University, WNEO-WEAO PBS 45/49 made the investment to move in to the downtown Akron studio that I call home with WKYC. The space became available when WKYC reduced staff here at the end of the Akron-Canton News broadcasts in May.
So after weeks of action with cameras and lights .. today it was lights, camera, action!
Ed Esposito, Jody Miller, and Steve Hoffman all took part in tonight's episode, which airs at 9 p.m., discussing everything from the Hudson busing fiasco to Sarah Palin to the removal of the mandatory paid sick day law from the Ohio ballot.
For regular viewers ... the set will look different .. and the host (me) is positioned on the left side of your screen now. I'm also standing after spending all the previous shows seated. The reason behind that will be apparent in the next few weeks as we add a "smart board" similar to the touch-screen monitors CNN is using on its political shows.
The new location is also a big plus for the panelists and for getting future guests on the broadcasts. I'd like to invite a studio audience in from time-to-time as well.
Let me know what you like and don't like about the new set .. and we'll continue to tweak it in the coming days. You can also email me a question for the panel and I'll use some on the air.
As always, thanks for being part of NewsNight Akron!
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Akron Police have now suspended Detective Vincent Felber for 90 days for his book Perfect Beauty which takes aim at how the department handled the Cynthia George case.
Phil Trexler broke the suspension a short time ago in a story on ohio.com and I'm told that he predicted the suspension would come this week during last week's NewsNight Akron.
Police leaders are confirming the suspension, but whether or not the media forced city hall's hand, it was time to bring this case to a resolution.
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
He shook hands with the reporters AND the photographers, which politicians rarely do, especially at the National stage. Here's what it looked like (with Secret Service and Media Management folks nearby, but off camera):
I was a little taken aback that his response to my first question began with him bashing McCain, but he spent the rest of the answer explaining ways he really thinks Ohio's economy can turn around. His speech included calling Ohio the "Saudi Arabia" of coal in reference to jobs that could be created here if coal can be used more efficiently as a fuel.
I had a lot to choose from in a second question, but I felt it was best to ask him about benefits for Guardsmen and Reservists since 1,500 Ohio Guardsmen are now headed to the Gulf Coast and another 2,500 are on duty right now in Iraq and Afghanistan. His answer will resonate well with a lot of Guard families that can empathize with the exact statements he raised.
After the interview, Obama approached me and wanted to know more about my tour of duty in Iraq, including where and when I served, how long I was there, and what it did to my family. He thanked me for my service and reached out for my hand.
I had noticed during the interview that Obama was wearing a bracelet on his right hand. I asked him what it was and he told me that it was given to him by a Wisconsin mother who lost her son in Iraq. His name is engraved on the bracelet. She asked Obama to wear it and he's kept it on since February.
There was one humerous moment as Obama put on the wireless microphone in an outside hallway before the interview. We could hear him even though he hadn't come in the interview room yet. Obama was joking with his staff saying "did you guys see I beat Reggie in a game of Horse?"
It was amusing to hear someone who is fighting for the most powerful job on earth and who had just spoken for 75 minutes on how to turn a country around .. yet in the blink of eye, he can have a few laughs with his staff before one-on-ones with the television media. I know local politicians who couldn't find that comfort level even if the topic they were speaking on was bake sales for the library.
Obama's speech and Q&A went about 75 minutes .. and then about 20 minutes after that, I was invited back to a one-on-one interview. He's the most candid politician I've ever met that's for sure.
I'm up to my you-know-what in getting the story on the air and preparing to go live ... but I'll write more later tonight on more about what the day was like.
Obama's first few minutes have been highlights of last week's speech in Denver. Familiar phrases about the economy, health insurance, and why John McCain doesn't understand middle America. He did go off book a bit and take the RNC to task over last night's speakers who failed to recognize the economy as a major issue.
1:02 p.m. Obama is now railing about the equal-pay-for-equal-work law that he hopes to pass. He claims that women earn half of the income in half of all American families. He's talking about his grandmother not earning enough years ago.
1:21 p.m. Question #1 delt with the poor in Tuscarawas County and #2 targeted getting alternative fuels going in Ohio. Obama gave solid answers to both saying that upping the minimum wage and tax credits will help the working poor, while better using coal for energy would make Ohio the "Saudi Arabia of coal" for the world.
1:33 p.m. Obama now getting an emotional testimony from a man worked 36 years in Canton only to see his plant close unexpectedly. Obama telling him that he'll get help through additonal Social Security and that he'll work to keep this from happening again to other workers.
9:51 a.m. Seems our Q&A with Obama will be after he speaks to the women in the courtyard and it will be off in a side room. With each station only having one camera in the courtyard, the time it takes to break down and get in the interview room will be limited and may cost us some interviews with the crowd, but that's an acceptable sacrifice. While I'm still framing my one question I'll get to ask, I wonder what you would ask? Share your comments below . .and if I get a second question opportunity, maybe I'll ask yours. Eric
He's speaking at the Kent State - Tuscarawas Campus around 11:30 a.m. or so .. although that can be moved up or back.
As is the usual procedure, the media is told to arrive many, many hours early to set up .. and then we're all kicked out as the Secret Service checks out our gear. Then, they let the media back in just as the public is allowed in.
The way you know that the subject -- in this case Obama -- has arrived is to watch for the national pool of photographers and press. When they arrive in a stampeded, the VIP can't be far behind. Sometimes, the candidate or leader gets out on stage before the national press can even get set up.
The venue here in New Philadelphia is a small courtyard, so the local press is already pushing on one another .. when the national press gets here, it'll be a fight to find the right shots. Then again, the press know how to work together and we'll work it out.
No local folks have shown up yet .. but I did see a large sign on a business on I-77 near Dover that read "Sen. Obama please help me save my home!"
As part of the Cleveland press pool, Sen. Obama's camp called me at home last night and told me to be prepared for a Q&A session .. and that it probably be in the form of a one-on-one with Obama but limited to 1-2 questions in a one-minute interview. Nothing like pressure eh? Not sure yet whether it will be before or after the event .. as everything is subject to change.
More later ..
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
That's about the same number of Buckeye troops (I was one of them) that Ohio sent to Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
More to come ..
While I was on the phone with a producer in our Cleveland office, videographer Larry Baker heard a child screaming on the front porch of the home right next to the high school. He could tell that the child was in trouble. As Larry began moving towards the home to check on the child, two police vehicles pulled up and the officers jumped out in a hurry and headed for the front porch.
Two neighbors were talking to the officers and pointing at the front of the house.
As the officers entered the home, the neighbors told me that the man inside had been beating his girlfriend and the child had run screaming in fear. The neighbors say the beating was so bad, that they could hear the screams over the busy traffic on Copley Road.
Needless to say, the neighbors were surprised to see a TV camera there that quickly, but I explained that we were only 100 feet away at the time and wanted to help if we could.
Within seconds of entering the home, the Akron officers were back outside searching the nearby bushes and a back garage .. obviously looking for the suspect who had made a run for it. Other units showed up and the chase was on.
I still don't know if they found the suspect or not .. or what the condition of the woman is .. but it's enough to get your heart pumping in the middle of the afternoon.
Now back to story #1 .. and a local teacher charged with getting drunk and pointing a weapon at another man's head. Police later find an arsenal in his basement .. and also charge him with drug possession.
My favorite line so far comes from the 9-1-1 call from a neighbor. He told the dispatcher that the teacher had been drinking all day and was therefor "annihilated." I'm guessing he meant "inebriated." Although, if the story is true, this man was close to "annihilating" another human being had APD not shown up in time.
All this and the day is barely half over .. Yikes!
Monday, September 1, 2008
Just yesterday, a five-man team left the National Guard Armory near the Akron-Canton Airport. They're flying a CH-47 Chinook helicopter to the hurricane zone and awaiting missions. A Guard spokesman told that the crew has arrived in Nashville and is awaiting further order, and more Ohio Guardsmen could be headed to the zone once the damage is assessed.
I also checked with the City of Akron after hearing that the Fire Department's dive team was headed to NOLA, but a spokesman tells me the dive team is on a "standby list" so there has been no activation as of yet.
I'm certainly having flashbacks of when I was activated in 2005 with the Ohio Guard for Katrina. Can't believe these folks are enduring another major hurricane so soon.
Anyway .. looking for local connections .. so drop me a line! Eric