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Making headlines

May 7, 2008 - Jennifer Houtman
I first met Marc Dann more than 15 years ago. His wife Alyssa and I worked together as reporters and at the time, he had a budding law practice in Youngstown. I didn’t know Marc well, but I remember he liked to take the cases that made headlines. The more sensational the better.

Now, Dann is making headlines for all the wrong reasons, and I have to wonder what toll the news of his affair is taking on his wife Alyssa and their children. Alyssa and I were close a long time ago. We’ve maintained a distant relationship but I certainly haven’t talked to her since the scandal at the attorney general’s office exploded in such a public and detailed way. I don’t expect to talk with her. Still, I find myself thinking about her a lot this week.

I find myself thinking about our friend Ed Simpson, too. Ed was our editor at the Tribune Chronicle in Warren where Alyssa and I worked as reporters. Most recently he was Dann’s ‘chief of policy’ and one of a handful of people to lose their jobs in the fallout. News reports and official documents suggest he knew of inappropriate behavior and did nothing about it.

Years ago, Ed and Alyssa were good friends of mine. They were good journalists. And good people. They taught me a lot about what it means to be a journalist - they helped me tap into my instincts and follow those instincts to the stories that really matter.

Professionally, Ed and Alyssa were quite a team. They used to uncover stories of corruption, of people in power coercing those under their supervision. They reported the stories that revealed government’s abuse of the public trust.

Now they are part of such a story. My instincts tell me there’s a lot more going on here than has been reported thus far, in terms of what Dann knew and when he knew it. And that just makes me sad.

A lot of the reporters covering this story around the state worked with Alyssa and Ed at one time or another. For some, that makes this a difficult story to cover.

From where I sit, Marc Dann blew it. Some people say he should step down, some say he should be given another chance. If state legislators have their way, Dann won’t have any say in the matter. He’ll have crashed and burned before his first term is over.

From a personal standpoint, Dann isn’t my concern. My thoughts keep going back to my old friends Ed and Alyssa.


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