An Ordinary Man
Posted on January 21, 2004 at 09:17:37 AM
Behind The Eight Ball
By Doug Potter
Ottumwa- Jerry Parker has been a target of local news media for 30 years.
During the three decades of Parkers political years, various corporate self-perceived high hats have placed a swarm of
neophyte writers, announcers and broadcast journalists, peddled in from God knows who cares U.S.A., to cover him. Some were
merely young men and women seeking a buck still others offer themselves freely as minions only to eventually be swept out
the backdoor of decrepit castles.
As Parkers political career rose in 1974 soon after being elected as Ottumwas Parks Commissioner until now, the establishment
media has used numerous tactics to market him so they could market themselves. It makes for good advertising but poor public
information. It makes for great tabloid news but is far less effective as information of record documentation.
When Parker was Parks Commissioner he picked up where former park heads Carl Radosevich and Paul Troeger left off. Both
men did a great job with developing the park system and Parker fine-tuned it. He was responsible for new softball fields,
tennis courts, outside basketball courts, new shelter houses (including Jimmy Jones Shelter), restrooms and asphalt roads
through the parks system. The list of parks accomplishments is long.
Parker ran a not-for-profit bingo operation in the 70s and 80s - various accusers shrieked he buried empty peanut butter
jars full of money in his yard. Funny, the IRS and the state did not charge him. Nor did they find extra unaccounted for cash.
He still drives around town in an old car and his house may reflect his current Wapello County Supervisor income. Those jars
must be buried deep.
During the late 1970s and into the early 1980s Parker began to irritate the Ottumwa establishment and that establishment
felt a need to change the form of Ottumwas government to muzzle the junkyard dog. Armed with loads of phony hype from local
media the type of government was changed. Ottumwa has never been the same. Make of that as you want. He was then elected full-time
mayor, so the piggy-bank-backers once again paid out to change the form of government to exclude Parker as fulltime mayor.
Even though he could have been elected as a part-time mayor Parker gave up his political career for a while.
When he did come back for another hitch he ran for State Representative and was narrowly defeated in a tightly contested
State Representative race against Mike Moreland and Charlie Poncy. The media was not his friend in that race as every unwarranted
allegation that could be dredged up and hurled was used to the benefit of his opponents. And, it was not the handy work of
Moreland or Poncy as they conducted decent campaigns.
In the mid-1990s Parker was charged with a criminal offense that was later dropped by the judicial system. But not before
the media painted Parker with an ugly brush. Not all media just certain media sources.
About five years ago Parker made a run at being a Wapello County Supervisor and won, despite amateur Picassos using their
deliberate but predictable smear attempts. Funny thing the public knows whats on those palettes and what they see is crap.
Not clear and concise truth but crap. All of the publicity Parker receives, be it good or bad, perpetuates his political
career. I think he likes it. But those who have known what he has done for others do not. There are many that know what he
has done for others. But since they dont have a column and I do Ill give you a few examples.
While the media and other spendthrifts shouted for an expensive law center Parker saw to it that the county saved $1 million
dollars on the project. While some in the media clean their dirty finger nails once a month, Parker delivers commodities to
shut-ins and the elderly. While certain media shrouds public information, Parker freely gives the public, or the media, any
information they ask. While the media defended and guised a past Ottumwa School Board Administration that defiled the public
to the tune of over $2 million dollars, Parker and the other county supervisors have displayed a clean budget. Year after
year, Parkers accomplishments speak for themselves.
However, highlighting Parker and a minority individual, without speaking to others with alleged gambling connections displays
incestuous weaknesses of those institutions banking that Parker is surely a felon. It is the shout of an interwoven connection
of media between friends, certain advertisers and turkey intellect. They want Parker to be charged and convicted as a felon
so he will not be able to hold public office. Cool plan. Sounds like something straight out of the Richard Nixon era.
You might be thinking that if Parker is charged, and later found guilty that I was a fool defending his actions. Wrong.
I promote his accomplishments. I have known him since 1969. He has not lied to me and he always answers public right-to-know
questions candidly. If he places or takes illegal bets, or even spins a casino wheel Ive never seen him. If the law figures
him a major detriment to society, along with the others allegedly implicated, theyll receive warrants. If guilty they will
face the consequences based on their level of guilt.
Rumor, gossip and innuendo are a long way from fact. But those are easy to print, broadcast and telecast when readily
accessible. It appears less painful to appease a monster than to be fair to an ordinary man. Parker is an ordinary man - though
his most staunch supporters think he needs a spot on Mt. Rushmore.
I am saying Parker is a saint? No more than you or I. We are all fallible and human frailties play as much a part in good
people as they do in bad. Parker is not bad on the contrary. Parker will be the first to deny canonization. But he and others
do not deserve to be smeared because it is easy. If they are arrested report the arrest and if there is a subsequent trial
cover the trial.
Media whoring spreads disease and only makes passers-bye and residents dislike and distrust those whores even more.