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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

"I WANTED CHA-CHA HEELS!" How The Traverse City Record-Eagle Missed The Region's Juiciest News Story of The Year; Executive Editor Unconnected & Relegated to Chewing the Gristle of An Imaginary TCAPS Scandal

Among the memorable events of a dissolute decade spent in New York City was an ability to see nearly every movie I ever wanted to see—many of them in theaters outside of Times Square.

Although most people only know the “Hairspray” era John Waters, I indulged my love of perversely enjoyable Waters films like “Female Trouble”.

Playing two roles, the magnificent Divine is much more compelling in the female role (naturally!).

As the juvenile delinquent Dawn Davenport in early 1960s Baltimore, Divine was a regular troublemaker at her all-girls school. Dawn/Divine receives a failing Geography grade and a sentence of writing lines for fighting, lying, cheating, and eating in class. 

On Christmas morning, Dawn failed to get the cha-cha heel shoes she wants for Christmas. After breaking into a violent rage and pushing her mother into the Christmas tree, Dawn runs away from home and, while hitchhiking, gets picked up by Earl Peterson, a fat man driving an Edsel station wagon—also played by Divine.

I thought of Divine as Dawn Davenport when I read the January 24 Traverse City Record-Eagle editorial, “TCAPS Needs A Leader”.

Somebody really, really wanted cha-cha heels for Christmas, and didn't get them! 

Or was it something else?

Here's my theory: I trace whole worm-turning back to the East Middle School surveillance video issue—a synthetic controversy apparently ginned up by the Record-Eagle's editor.

Taking a verbal poke on January 24 at one of the area's largest employers, Editorman reacted vehemently to the December 15 closed door meeting of the Traverse City Area Public Schools Board of Education where an unidentified R-E reporter waited patiently outside—hey, ever hear of rattling a door knob?

Those who really want information don't wait for an invitation.


The controversy caught fire last September, when East Middle School surveillance cameras caught an incident of bullying. 

TCAPS officials had the temerity to deny a Record-Eagle Freedom of Information Act request for surveillance video of the September 18, citing a federal law intended to protect students' educational record although the surveillance tape was later released to two parents. 

The Record-Eagle received a copy of the tape from a parent and posted it on the paper's website. As a result, local people watched the video, with many criticizing TCAPS administrators' handling of the incident.

In addition to calling the incident "blown out of proportion," interim Superintendent Paul Soma also said, "Frankly, it's not that worthwhile of an incident." 

TCAPS officials denied the Record-Eagle's FOIA request and said they would not publicly release the September 18, 2014 security footage—or any other security video—because they considered such videos as protected student records.

Well, boy howdy, just when you think this thing is as dead as Elvis, it comes roaring back from beyond!

Ever wonder what might have happened if Editorman had fixed his squinting sights on a real story, one that happened right in his lap, instead of this s**tstorm designed to make up for missing the monetary pirate who allegedly raped and pillaged millions of taxpayer dollars.


Yeah, Steve Ingersoll's operation was like cheap bourbon...and I was going to put it on ice.

Did the heist happen in a big grimy city, filled with tough guys, narrow alleys, cheap bars, and greasy diners? 

Nope, I just lifted a manhole cover and found the secret sewage flowing under the streets of a sparkling small Northern Michigan town.

Although TCAPS Interim Superintendent Paul Soma's contract is available online (right here, where everyone can see!), getting the information to put this case together was as slow as a sick cockroach climbing a greasy wall.

This caper didn't add up, until I looked into what the big cheese might be hiding and I found it—millions in missing taxpayer cabbage hiding in plain sight, right there in the 2013 Grand Traverse Academy audit report.

Yeah, you don't have to be a dick to find the dough, but it helps.

The pieces of the puzzle were falling into place, but Mr. Big gave a signal and one of his goons started to work me over—leaving a threatening note at a Novi townhouse I'd sold years before.

Who said criminals were smart? Not me!

No one plays me for a sucker and gets away with it.

There was more to this caper than I’d bargained for, and Mr. Big was as big as a plate of spareribs, and twice as greasy.

He tried to give me the bum's rush, but it didn't work. I came back stronger than a cement overcoat.

I cracked the case wide open, so enough with the chinning!

I've got to get a wiggle on, so I'll leave the crumbs to Mr. Editorman.


[Dawn discovers the shoe box under the Christmas tree does not contain cha-cha heels]

Dawn Davenport: WHAT are THESE?

Mrs. Davenport: Those are your new shoes, Dawn!

Dawn Davenport: Those aren't the right kind, I told you cha-cha heels, black ones!

Mr. Davenport: Nice girls don't wear cha-cha heels!

Dawn Davenport: Gimmie those presents, I'll never wear those ugly shoes! I told you the kind I wanted! You ruined my Christmas!

[Stomps the Christmas presents]

Mrs. Davenport: Please, Dawn! Not on Christmas!

Dawn Davenport: Get off me, you ugly witch!

[Pushes mother into the Christmas tree]

Mr. Davenport: Dawn Davenport, are you crazy, look at your mother!

Dawn Davenport: Get off me... LAY OFF ME! I hate you, fuck you! Fuck you both, you awful people! You're not my parents! I hate you, I hate this house, and I hate Christma

1 comment:

  1. You seem surprised that the RE did/has not covered the financial shenanigans that took place at the Grand Traverse Academy. That would have actually taken some real investigative and reporting skills which are lacking at the RE. The RE is like CNN, once they got on the scent of a story they beat it to death i.e. CNN's coverage of the missing Malaysian airliner.
    The RE' s coverage of Open Meeting Act violations borders on an obsession . . although it is pretty easy subject to cover. Why isn't there more coverage and questions about the $20M+ unfunded pension liability?