News and Tribune

September 26, 2013

VAN HOY: Playing politics in Clark County

By SHEA VAN HOY
shea.vanhoy@newsandtribune.com

— The old adage goes, “no good deed goes unpunished.”

For years and years, “no bad deed goes punished” would be far more accurate when it comes to politics in Clark County.

Clark County Sheriff’s Maj. Chuck Adams has been punished somewhat in the past week — in the court of public opinion, anyway — after this newspaper published a story reporting that Adams had suspended his campaign for sheriff. In the same article, he admitted he mismanaged financial reporting of his campaign, and he also was caught on tape proposing a no-show department job to a contributor to his campaign.

I can assure you that Adams is merely an example of dirty politics in Clark County — not the only example.

He simply mimicked a behavior he’s no doubt seen time and time before from others in local political circles. Let’s be clear, it’s not everyone — but it’s more than it should be.

It’s frustrating at times as a newspaper editor to hear rumors I believe to be true, but that the paper can’t prove because the political circle is too tight and everyone has dirt on everyone else.

It was said to me just the other day that in Clark County, power and influence are the currency that drives the political machine. And it’s a machine that requires everyone to keep a little black book of secrets to serve as checks and balances.

How can a person speak up if they know someone is just waiting to bring them down? Further, why would anyone put themselves in such a position in the first place?

The answer, to be a bigger fish in our relatively small pond. To stand out. To be seen. To have power.

But power corrupts, and in Clark County, there is an abundance of power at play.

I’m sick of it. You’re sick of it. The only people who aren’t sick of it are those who want to keep this power machine humming along.

But there is a different kind of power in these pages and in the words they carry. They can make a difference, and so can the people who speak out for what’s right.

We’ll continue to chase stories of political wrongdoing, but your help is vital. Every day, across the country, stories such as this are broken because a source decides to come forward with information.

Maybe you have that information. Maybe you have the power.



CAMM AND CONVICTION

I am normally the staffer who approves — or doesn’t approve for those of you who resort to name-calling — web comments on newsandtribune.com articles and columns.

Boy are some of you passionate about whether or not David Camm committed the murders he’s on trial for.

The Camm case is different than most we cover, including in the way many readers react to it.

It may be because it’s the third trial for Camm for the murder of his wife and kids. The general public in Southern Indiana, as a whole, is more informed on the case and trial than anything else we publish in the newspaper and at newsandtribune.com

There are readers who are convinced — beyond any doubt — that Camm committed the murders. There seems to be about the same number of folks who are sure — beyond any doubt — that Camm is enduring a third trial and has spent 13 years in prison for a crime he did not commit.

As an innocent bystander, it’s interesting to me that anyone — especially people who aren’t family members or friends — could be that certain either way; that they couldn’t at least imagine a scenario where the other side was correct.

To go along with the theme of the first part of my column, it reminds me a lot of politics and the two-party system, where the other side is never right.

— Shea Van Hoy is editor of the News and Tribune. Email him at shea.vanhoy@newsandtribune.com and follow him on Twitter at @sheavanhoy.