Thursday, July 10, 2008

Running for Congress: The Calleia Murder Trial and the Wrong Priorities in Media

When I started this blog, I promised to document my run for Congress as best as possible. It won't be easy to recall all of the exciting elements of the experience and I may over explain some non-sense and under explain some important items. Please leave a comment if there is a hole that needs to be plugged, questions about my story or if you met me somewhere and want to add to my story, please comment. This recap may make me look like a genius or it may prove me to be the average no one I have always insisted that I am. It might help me if I ever wanted to run for office again, or it might hurt me if I ever try to run for office again but I'll at least be as honest and open as I can remember the experience. My perspective of the story might be damaging, embarrassing, insulting or give more credit than is deserved to certain individuals or it might not be any of those things and might leave out important individuals or minimize the importance of some people. In any case, what I will write as my time permits is my experience, from my perspective, and I will preface each entry in my blog on the topic of "Running for Congress" with this same disclaimer, or a like disclaimer if I think it needs to change. Here goes...
Part 1 - Running for Congress: The Beginnings
Part 2 - Running for Congress: Getting on the Ballot
Part 3 - Getting on the Sabrin Line
Part 4 - Realization that the Sabrin line meant failure
Part 5 - The Monmouth County GOP Nominating Convention
Part 6 - Meeting the Bloggers
Part 7 - The Middlesex Convention and Meeting my Opponents
Part 8 - Learning How to Campaign
Part 9 - Steve Lonegan Becomes My New Best Friend
Part 10 - Trying to Capitalize on a FEMA/”BEMA” Meeting
Part 11 - The Last of the "Big Events"
Part 12 - The Calleia Murder Trial and the Wrong Priorities in Media
Part 13 - The Door to Door Effort, and Notable Characters
Part 14 - Primary Day, and Night
Part 15 - Random Observations During the Campaign

You see, I’m not a criminal, honestly, despite what Angry Peter might say about me and the screening committee can do the background check on me if they need. But back in October of 2005, my workout partner (I'm a gym rat) whose name is George Calleia was accused of murdering his wife Susan in their home in Holmdel NJ. For the past two and a half, or more now, years, this has been a constant issue that was on my mind. I had no part of this, knew nothing about the case really, in fact, until the police questioned me back in October 2005, I didn’t even know George's wife name, I never hung out with George outside of the gym, I never met his wife, I didn't know where he lived aside from in Holmdel and somewhere near the gym, but since I was questioned by the police and then was a witness in the grand jury hearing, I have had this case on my mind, every day, day in and day out.

For anyone who has never been a "witness" in such a serious case, it is truly frightening. What do I do, what do I say, was there something I should do, something I should say, something I said, something I shouldn’t have said, something I saw but didn’t know I saw, something I didn’t see that I should have seen? And, being self-centered, how will this hurt me as I run for congress?
In the midst of trying to run for office, and just weeks or days before the primary, I was on the witness stand in a criminal court room testifying on behalf of the prosecution against my pal George. I blogged about the case at length if you care, but in my opinion, there is no reason to care other than that my story from that experience might help provide a better indication of who I am and what makes me the individual that I am, which you might care about.

The Calleia case witness issue could have probably been left out of my story of Running For Congress, but I believe that it demonstrates a problem that "We the People" have with the media, in general, we are provided.

While I was a Congressional candidate, I reached out to the APP (local newspaper) via telephone and email on several occasions asking for some kind of interview. I provided my own short (less than 1000 characters!) bio and background, contact numbers, email addresses, etc and never once received a call or email back. I often posted comments on their website to stories that were relevant to politics and provided a link to my website – the APP staff always deleted those comments if they contained the link. I, a candidate for Congress, who could have impacted hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of lives could not get press coverage even when I begged, but my old workout buddy George, who was accused of murdering another human being which affects a relatively small number of people’s lives (albeit seriously), was gracing the front page of the APP paper every day for three weeks. APP readers were commenting on the "killer" and knew his name, but the APP made no effort to publish my name. Maybe I shouldn’t complain too much, the APP made no effort to publish Bob or Peter’s names either.

Along those same lines, I had sent emails and placed calls to the local/NYC TV "news" programs "story tips" lines, no response from any, I even contacted our "pals" at NJ101.5 (with their "GRIP" platform) to see if I could get some airtime/talk on the radio - the only response I received was one to let me know that Ron Paul was "a boob". Aside from a column written by Art Gallagher and published in the Courier, a 100 word "letter to the editor" from my old boss hidden in a Thursday issue of the APP, a brief mention in a single Star Ledger article, and a Rutgers Students newspaper/radio interview - the press and "BigMedia" was no where to be found, again, not just for me, I'm not claiming "media bias", they just didn't cover the race, at all, aside from claiming "safe Pallone". Well really, maybe because the "BigMedia" only publishes Pallone's name and doesn't publish the names of other candidates?

Oddly enough, June 4th, the day after I lost the primary, a CBS producer from 48 Hours, the TV show, called me. They weren’t interested in this story about my run for Congress, that’s not interesting or important at all apparently, but they did want to talk about the personal matter of the Calleia murder trial; a relatively unimportant case apparently needs TV time, Congressional candidates obviously do not.

With the lack of BigMedia coverage, it’s no surprise that only 10% of the people come out to vote. "The people" are too busy watching quality TV shows like 48 Hours to concern themselves with non-sense like electing a representative who cares about the people and cares about the issues. I told the 48 Hours guy "sure, I’ll do your interview" and provided him some basic information over the phone. If and when they call me back, I’ll be sure to just blast them for being part of CBS, another media outlet who was not willing to interview me about my run for Congress, but seems to have plenty of airtime to rehash a completed murder trial. I only told them I would participate to see if, and how quickly, they followed up on the story, the effort that they put into that non-sense vs the lack of effort to cover congressional candidates. For their part, as of today, July 10, 2008, they still haven't called me back so I'll have to assume they don't find my story telling abilities interesting, or the case interesting... or maybe they have dropped their story about George and instead contacted Robert McLeod to appear on TV for an hour in order to serve the public interest in their Congressional Candidate? Doubtful.

BTW - if anyone does care - I believe George Calleia is scheduled for sentencing in August. If I can get the day off of work, I'll try to attend. I haven't contacted George since his trial, but I feel like I should. If anyone knows how to contact an inmate in Monmouth County Jail, please do shoot me an email and let me know.

Coming up next - The Door to Door Effort, and Notable Characters - and that I'm here to tell this story is proof that no one is shooting at politicians... yet.

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