Mike Nichols column: Coming up Roses in Clintonville

9:23 PM, Apr. 27, 2013  |  Comments
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Turns out those mysterious, thundering booms rattling the poor folks of Clintonville a while back probably weren't earthquakes after all. They were, I suspect, the sound of a local newspaper publisher butting heads with local politicians.

Four years ago, the publisher, Tricia Rose, and her husband, Greg, did something unheard of - and gutsy. They started up the Clintonville Chronicle from scratch and built up a decent circulation they say is over 1,000.

They also, more recently, used the paper to help Greg run for city council against the godmother of one of his children, win and then use his very first meeting to speak out unsuccessfully in favor of designating the Chronicle the official city paper - a plum worth more than $5,000 a year.

Lois Bressette, the alderwoman Greg Rose beat by seven votes, is concerned about how he won his seat and what has transpired since.

"This newspaper gave the impression the only person running for city council was (Tricia Rose's) husband," Bressette told me. "Don't they have the responsibility to tell people at least that somebody was running against her husband?"

They did - once, back in January when Tricia Rose wrote that Greg Rose was taking on Bressette. After that, though, everything seemed to be coming up Roses.

For a long time, Greg was both a reporter for the paper and a columnist; and his business card, available at the front door of the paper just the other day, states he is the assistant publisher. Between Jan. 8 and election day in April, Greg used his "Out of My Mind" column to tout his candidacy six times, mentioning among other things that he was an Eagle Scout, promising to keep readers informed through the paper after he was elected and even thanking his wife for "assisting with the ordering and organization of the campaign forms and promotional materials."

Granted, what Tricia and Greg Rose are accused of doing - telling one side of the story in a way that benefits themselves - is not unusual nowadays. Telling, or hearing, one side of things is easier than having to be fair.

To be fair, Tricia Rose told me she is the sole owner of Rose Publications. Greg Rose transferred his shares to her more than a year ago and is now just a freelancer, she said.

"He got big-time demoted," his wife said.

Tricia Rose also said the reason Bressette was not given space in the Chronicle during the campaign was that she turned in a candidate questionnaire late. Bressette, in turn, supplied me with a letter from Tricia Rose stating that responses to the questionnaire had to be returned by Sunday, March 24, and also gave me a copy of an email from her to Tricia Rose that was sent at 10:40 p.m. that Sunday and had the responses attached.

Greg Rose, for his part, sent me an email about his editorials, saying that "nearly every one of my statements wasn't much more than a reminder that I was running" and didn't name Bressette. He noted that his wife didn't run his questionnaire responses either, and defended his decision to speak in favor of giving the legal notices to The Chronicle. He'll no longer write on the opinion page, his wife said. Nor, he said, will he report on the city.

The Chronicle didn't get the nod to print the city's legal notices. Another paper with less circulation in Clintonville did, and Greg Rose abstained from the vote. Still, Bressette thinks the fact he spoke in favor of the Chronicle at his first meeting "indicates (his) being on the city council was for self-interest rather than for the interest of the city."

That's a pretty strong statement for a former alderman to make against a newly elected official - just the sort of thing a decent small-town paper would report on.

You'd think.

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