One of my favorite quotes came from a fictional 19th century Irish bartender who went by the name of Mr. Dooley. Mr. Dooley happened to be a fictional character created by Chicago Evening Post journalist Finley Peter Dunne who, in 1893, introduced readers to the esteemed bartender in one of his newspaper columns. The quote I fell in love with was something Mr. Dooley said: “The job of the newspaper is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.”
Except that’s actually not what Mr. Dooley said. The original quote, which appeared in 1902, reads as follows: “Th’ newspaper does ivrything f’r us. It runs th’ polis foorce an’ th’ banks, commands th’ milishy, controls th’ ligislachure, baptizes th’ young, marries th’ foolish, comforts th’ afflicted, afflicts th’ comfortable, buries th’ dead an’ roasts thim aftherward.”
While we should ask hard questions that afflict the comfortable, we also have to dive deeper and seek a greater purpose, which is to uncover the truth. Yes, that involves asking people in high places questions they don’t want to answer.
Initially, I had no intention of stirring the pot in the City of Morro Bay by investigating local officials. This is where I live. Let someone else take the mantle. But after I came across a potential financial conflict of interest between Mayor John Headding and Councilwoman Jen Ford, I decided to express my concerns at public comment. Then I was interrupted and my microphone feed was cut without much explanation. What happened arose anger and concerns among residents. Knowing of my background in investigative journalism, many of these residents reached out to me; some of them made serious allegations about our city leadership that I ultimately decided to investigate.
After spending time evaluating these allegations and collecting evidence, I began my public inquiries this week. Since I’m not a law enforcement official and have no authority to issue subpoenas for records, I have started to formally reach out to city leaders . While I’m not ready to reveal any findings, I can confirm that my investigations have entered a more public phase. However, because this is election season, I will not disclose any significant findings until after the election.
While it’s true that I’ve endorsed Carla Wixom for mayor, that endorsement is based on community issues and candidate platforms, not allegations of misconduct. I have decided to not financially contribute or volunteer for any candidate involved in the November 2022 election. Though it’s tempting for some to diminish my pursuits for information and accountability as politicking, the allegations and facts uncovered are happenstance. If I wasn’t prevented from offering my public comment by the City of Morro Bay, it’s more likely than not than residents would not have reached out to me. Though that happened at the beginning of election season, that’s just the way it is.