Rahway Republican Criticizes Newspaper Reporter’s Conflict Of Interest

RepublicanRAHWAY – Republican Municipal Chairman Patrick Cassio is demanding that the City Council stop publishing legal notices in The Union County Local Source because it has not acknowledged that a reporter regularly assigned to cover city news has a conflict of interest.

According to Cassio, Local Source reporter Cheryl Hehl is married to the city’s Director of Health and Senior Services, Warren Hehl, who makes more than $110,000 per year.

“Neither Ms. Hehl nor Worrall Newspapers, which owns The Local Source, have publicly disclosed the obvious conflict of interest, and as such the people of the City of Rahway have for a long time now, been subjected to the potential for highly skewed and unduly favorable versions of local events in that paper,” Cassio said.

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1 comment for “Rahway Republican Criticizes Newspaper Reporter’s Conflict Of Interest

  1. October 10, 2013 at 1:50 pm

    Years ago, I worked down in the State House in Trenton. A reporter I knew there covered politics for the Star-Ledger. His wife was employed as a middle-level manager by the Division of Motor Vehicles, or DMV. Today it is known as Motor Vehicle Services (MVS).

    In all the years that reporter worked for the Ledger, he never once wrote a story about the DMV. Why? Because he knew it would have been unethical for him to do so. He recognized the potential for a conflict of interest, and he stayed away from it. He was a good reporter.

    Meanwhile, this reporter for “The Local Source,” Cheryl Hehl apparently fancies herself as a paragon of integrity, but she doesn’t have the good sense to stay away from writing about (and trashing) personalities who were obviously in conflict with her husband’s political aspirations in Rahway. Nor has she stayed away from matters which in turn directly affect his (and therefore her) financial bottom line. Her editor has apparently quite willingly gone right along with it as well!

    For example, she recently — in early October — wrote an article entitled “Rahway chooses new mayor”. That article, in excruciating and sordid detail, recorded the political demise of the former elected Mayor, Rick Proctor, by thoroughly trashing him to the point of even shoveling in details about unrelated matters — an ELEC violation. In the story she also engaged in literally hailing the appointment of her husband’s obvious political benefactor, Samson Steinman, as the new mayor of Rahway — she memorialized moment by writing about his “cheering supporters” who were in attendance at the swearing in ceremony.

    Curiously, as you can see for yourself, that story has now suddenly disappeared from “The Local Source” website, though it is still included in their index! Go ahead, click on the story — nothing comes up.

    Here is an illustrative quote from that story detailing her attack on Proctor:

    . . .
    In August 2011, after Proctor asked the city council to hire a full-time executive secretary and a part-time chief of staff for his office, a total salary of close to $100,000 annually, Pelissier voiced his concerns openly. He told the governing body he was not in favor of the move because it would be a burden on taxpayers and the positions were not necessary. In September of that same year ethics violation charges were filed against Proctor with the state local finance board and attorney general’s office after he attempted to pressure certain municipal officials into hiring his wife for the six-figure health officer position. Proctor’s wife, however, withdrew her name from consideration and another candidate was hired for the position.

    In 2012 this same board found the mayor violated ethic rules and “had direct or indirect” personal or financial involvement in the selection process of a city health officer while his wife was a candidate, which was a violation of a state statute. The local finance board also found Proctor used or attempted to use his official position as mayor to interfere with Pelissier’s role as “appointing authority” for the position. Then in November the council abruptly slashed the mayor’s salary from $66,000 to $20,808. Although Proctor said at the time the move was politically motivated, Steinman said it was intended to balance the mayor’s salary with the salaries of other mayors.
    . . . . (my emphasis added)

    Well, well . . . and who do you suppose was that “other candidate” she mentioned in the aside? Why, none other than her husband, Warren Hehl! Funny she didn’t mention that, huh? One of the highest paid bureaucrats in the city is awarded a huge salary boost, and it’s just an “oh, by the way” at the end of a sentence?

    With a major reward like that, coming so soon after the appointment of the new Mayor (it was the next item on the meeting agenda) only a fool would not suspect that — behind the scenes — his huge salary boost may have somehow been related to the political demise of Rick Proctor. And, who benefitted financially from that new six-figure salary? Why, Warren’s wife Cheryl Hehl, the author of the story!

    That is what you call a pretty obvious conflict of interest! Ask yourself this. Why do you suppose that story has now so suddenly disappeared from “The Local Source” website? As we used to say when we were kids — “Three guesses. The first two don’t count!”

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