In the campaign’s final days, the debate turns vile

Published April 7, 2012


That’s about all I can muster after a day of debate on the social media channels about my decision to release an e-mail errantly sent to me by Anthony Lubrano, the leading candidate in the race for the Board of Trustees. In that e-mail, he told a supporter to vote for people other than those in his officially endorsed slate.

I criticized his choices because one candidate is another corporate executive that we don’t need on the board, and the other has been silent on what he wants to do as a trustee. Conversely, I’ve proposed specific plans to improve the board’s transparency and ethics that are based on my experience as a crusading newspaper reporter.

And the response to my criticism was exactly what I expected.

Reaction from Lubrano supporters was swift and vile in remarks posted on Facebook’s Penn State advocacy groups.

“(Bagwell) clearly has no moral compass, and in my view that makes him no better than the self-serving cowards we are trying to replace,” wrote Marceline Therrien, a persistent critic of my campaign who has a hard time grasping the concept of openness and transparency.

“Don’t worry…Ryan Bagwell has already proven himself to be petty and immature when it comes to handling people’s privacy,” wrote Jeff Williams, another Lubrano supporter from the Philadelphia area. “I’d wager he’s going to finish somewhere around 40th place, so nobody should even give him a second thought.”

“Ryan Bagwell is an unprofessional, immature little child,” Williams wrote again, after urging alumni not to give me a second thought. “He doesn’t deserve anybody’s vote. This guy needs a refresher course in ethics.”

“It appears you are being treated the way JVP was being treated,” wrote Sheri Golden, in response to a statement purportedly made by Lubrano himself.

No moral compass. Self-serving coward. Petty. Immature. All that about someone who for years crusaded against local government corruption in Pennsylvania and Maryland. It couldn’t be farther from the truth.

But the loudest and most radical are always in in the minority. Supporters usually send their support silently. And behind the scenes, mine didn’t disappoint.

One supporter phoned me to stay that what I wrote was “fantastic.”

“Thank you SO much for your excellent quotes regarding Lubrano,” wrote another supporter in an e-mail this morning “Isn’t the whole reason we are all doing this is to get someone REAL on the board?”

Some others sent me messages saying I had secured their vote.

I have nothing against Lubrano. We’ve had a few phone conversations, and he’s a certainly a decent guy. Yesterday, he called me 7 times, but I wasn’t able to take his call. But to his supporters, he is beloved and can do no wrong. And that was proven by the hatred that was lobbed my way.

This wasn’t an e-mail that contained private financial information or health records. It was a declaration of Lubrano’s belief in the type of candidate he wants you to elect That’s valuable information that candidates shouldn’t keep from voters. But Lubrano decided to do exactly that.

That’s not the kind of transparency I want for Penn State.

I want Penn State to answer questions swiftly and openly, and I want want it to release records that other public agencies regularly provide. I want trustees to file annual financial disclosure statements, and prevent them from rewarding themselves with lucrative administrative positions. And I want to reduce tuition over the next 10 years so the cost of Penn State doesn’t slip from the hands of future Penn Staters.

I have a plan for a better Penn State, and I have the experience to implement that plan. Does your candidate?