BMV happens

Dateline: Sat 19 Aug 2006

Old country story (also true): The dog, the one that lived down on the Holladay farm in Adair County, Ky., many years ago, used to carry the cat around in his mouth. Granny was so disgusted by this bit of sado/macho business that she spanked them both -- the dog for doing it and the cat for allowing it.

That's how I feel about Star editor Dennis Ryerson accepting a favor from the fumbling, stumbling Bureau of Motor Vehicles. Ryerson's vehicle registration was hand-delivered by a BMV messenger to Ryerson's Meridian-Kessler home last Sunday, along with a hand-written apology from BMV chief Joel Silverman himself. What, Ryerson can't get his forms in the mail like the rest of us poor slobs who are also at the mercy of the BMV's new computer system and whatever else is going on there?

Ryerson -- who had written a good column about his troubles with the BMV Aug. 6 -- accepted both the note and the forms. He then went public with it by having reporter Theodore Kim write about it Aug. 16.

The upshot? Both parties look bad. Not Kim. The BMV and the Star boss.

Reader Jim Burns alerted me last week about this transaction, while I was on the grandmother grand tour in Indy and a little out of the news loop. Burns questioned the process.

"I'm surprised the BMV didn't reimburse him for the postage it took to mail in his license plate payment," he said.

In the past, Ryerson has, in my book, been a little too concerned about the opinions of the powers that be. He's a little too enamored of his own role as a player in the city, a little too flattered by attention thrown his way by self-serving politicos and a little too nervous about offending the masters of the local universe. I shared that observation with Burns. His comment:

"For a newspaper editor (or any other newspaper person, for that matter), to

be so highly impressed and so grateful for attention from a person or persons

with perceived status, power and influence is dangerous to our republic.

"whatever happened to the role of the press as a 'lean, mean hungry

watchdog'? today's press, for the most part, is a pack of lapdogs (and guess whose laps it sits on?)"

My question for Dennis was why he would accept such a sweet treat when he regularly cautioned reporters about not taking gifts or even awards from the community. He made it clear -- he never wanted a reporter to be thought of as favoring special interests.

In an email, Dennis gave me his answer on the awards thing:

"I thought about that. But it was not an award, but rather my registration

that I had paid for. I told Ted (Kim) I was so taken aback I didn't think to

give it back until after the guy had left. Editors should not get special

favors, which is why I wanted to write about this."

I'm going to let him have the last word. Actually, he comes off a lot better than the BMV, which has way too much time and money on its hands if it can afford such expensive, personal a--kissing.

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