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Published: Sunday, 12/25/2005

Party planning not part of food editor's job

Anyone who has met Blade Food Editor Kathie Smith knows that in addition to being superb at what she does, she is warm, easygoing, and a classy human being. So I was surprised to get an irate complaint about her.

A man was planning a Christmas lunch for 30 single mothers and their children and wanted her to plan menus for them.

And by the way, he wanted suggestions on where he could purchase 30 hams at a reasonable price to give these women for their families.

He was angry because our food editor wouldn t do that.

Well, the answer is she shouldn t do that, and she can t.

If Kathie Smith started being a party planner, she would never get her job done. Plus it might easily be a conflict of interest. I cannot plan someone s party or event menu or tell them the best place to shop.

That would conflict with my food reporting duties, she said.

Not that she doesn t want to hear from you. It s great to hear what is going on in your kitchens, she tells readers. I try to answer as many questions as I can in a timely manner, while I research and write my weekly stories.

But her priority has to be covering her beat. Here s a food advice hint, however: The downtown Toledo library has an extensive recipe file.

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John Stevenson was one of several irate readers who said I have noticed that The Blade is quite willing to show the political party when a Republican politician is involved, meaning the Tom Noe scandals.

But he added that the newspaper was quite remiss in mentioning the party of Councilman (Bob) McCloskey when covering his recent story.

Was this by design? Can I assume he is a Democrat?

Well, Bob McCloskey is indeed a Democrat.

That doesn t mean, however, that the editors and reporters at The Blade are striving to protect him. Nor is the newspaper covering anything up for partisan reasons. Yet it is easy to see why someone might raise questions.

On Nov. 20, 2005, The Blade ran a major, front-page story detailing allegations that Mr. McCloskey had attempted to trade a rezoning vote for $100.000. The story, which is long and detailed, never mentions that Mr. McCloskey, who was just elected to an at-large seat, is a Democrat.

What s my opinion?

First of all we should remember that Bob McCloskey hasn t been convicted if anything. Nor has he even been formally charged with anything illegal, at this point, anyway.

And The Blade has identified him by party in election stories. Editorially The Blade recommended his defeat last month, saying that because of term limits, he should not even be in the race.

Mr. McCloskey, who was term-limited as a district councilman, ran successfully for an at-large seat. In a scathing October 3 editorial criticizing what the newspaper felt was his misleading billboard campaign, The Blade asked Where are the Republican lawyers in town?

On Thursday, The Blade reported that a three-judge panel gave Mr. McCloskey 30 days to respond to a lawsuit challenging his election to the at-large council seat.

That having been said, this ombudsman thinks that in the long Nov. 20 story about the allegations, Mr. McCloskey s party affiliation should have been included; it is part of his professional identity. I hope The Blade will do that on long stories about him in the future.

There is a difference, however, between Mr. McCloskey s difficulties and those involving Tom Noe. The Noe scandals involve the misuse of public funds for a political purpose and their diversion to various political campaigns.

The allegations against the city councilman do not hint that the supposed wrongdoing was designed to benefit any political party.



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