January 29, 2012

Mayor creates a stir

by Kelly Hawes

— Some folks have accused the Pharos-Tribune of gunning for Ted Franklin, Logansport’s new mayor.

We’re not.

Actually, some of what you’ve been reading on our news pages in recent weeks has been fairly typical of a transition.

Franklin ran on a platform of change, and he has delivered it.

Certainly, the mayor has ruffled a few feathers, but that happens in any change of administration.

Some of the controversy perhaps has gone a bit beyond typical.

The new mayor got crossways with a number of police officers when he refused to approve the appointment of a police officer who had been recommended by the police department’s pension board. That decision led to an angry meeting that ended with the resignations of seven members of the pension board.

Then he got crossways with the park board when he replaced the board chairman and talked about transforming a building that had been donated to the parks department into a clinic for city and county employees.

And then there was his leave from the fire department and the check he received for more than $4,400 in vacation pay.

We’ve reported on these stories, and we’ll continue to report on them. Reporting on the news coming out of the City Building is what our readers expect of us.

It might not always be easy.

The turmoil in the police department continued last week as the department’s assistant chief and chief of detectives were reassigned. One of the reassignments was voluntary. There’s some question about the second.

Why all the controversy? Some of it involves the mayor’s confrontation with the pension board. Some involves the mayor’s brother George, a 23-year veteran of the department who was called back from sick leave last week to handle code enforcement complaints.

We have commented on some of these matters on our editorial page, and we’ll continue to do that.

The page is also open to other viewpoints through our Public Forum and even an occasional guest column.

Our news pages, though, will be neutral. We’ll ask questions and report what we find.

As much as possible, our stories will reflect various perspectives, including the perspective of the mayor and his administration.

That’ll be difficult, of course, if he fails to return our calls.

Last week, in the midst of the furor over the reassignment of the chief detective and the assistant chief, we tried to reach Franklin and Police Chief Michael Neher for comment.

Neher put us off twice, and Franklin failed to respond to a message.

Friday morning, both were quoted in a report on a competing news outlet concerning the appointment of a new assistant chief.

Our hope is this isn’t a sign of things to come.

Ted Franklin has his critics, and some of them are reveling in the recent controversy. It’s important to remember, though, that every mayor has his or her critics.

Our job, as the local newspaper, is to talk to the critics and to those being criticized and to lay out the facts for our readers.

We will continue to carry out our role.

If you have feedback on how we’re doing, I hope you won’t hesitate to share it.

• Kelly Hawes is managing editor of the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached at 574-732-5155 or