Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Will it ever end?

We had a few insights after reading "Investigation still ongoing," the May 31, 2013 commentary in the Herald-Standard authored by Harry Fike, the Fayette County Housing Authority chairman.

Fike commemorated the one-year anniversary of the purported May 30, 2012 discovery of a packet of information at a Uniontown area restaurant by informing the public that, "Each day we get a little closer to solving this mystery."

Really? At this rate, Haley's Comet will fly past Earth two or three times by the time the "mystery" is solved.

One thing the investigation has apparently uncovered thus far is a problem with mathematics. Originally, the reported word was that three waitresses at the restaurant where housing authority board member Beverly Beal, former housing authority finance director Sonya Over and Fayette County Commissioner Angela Zimmerlink had lunch saw the trio with the aforementioned packet.

Now, a year later, we have Fike noting, "Plus, two or three waitresses said our county commissioner, Mrs. Zimmerlink, was there viewing them along with a member of the housing authority board, Mrs. Beal, and a former housing authority employee."

Maybe if we wait another year, we'll be told that the case is close to being solved because "one or two" unnamed waitresses definitely saw what transpired.

Fike says the case involves "confidential records" that were "found lying on a restaurant table" and it "is not closed by any means."

We've written about this before, back in August, when the case was only three months old.


Another nine months have elapsed, and all Fike has to put on the table is "every day we get a little closer" ?

That's not saying much for the skills of the private investigator hired to get to the bottom of this, who's been paid several thousand dollars. After 12 months, perhaps Fike and the housing authority should turn to someone who can get better results.

That logic assumes, however, that the utlimate goal is closing the books on this one. And, politics being what it is, you've got to leave room to at least acknowledge that maybe a final resolution, one way or the other, isn't the ultimate goal.

Maybe the goal is to keep the innuendo-based issue alive, heading into the next county commissioner election, so that attempts can be made to disparage Zimmerlink without any proof of wrongdoing or misbehavior on her part.

Much like the Whitewater investigation was used to disparage and tie up President Bill Clinton, perhaps Packetgate has far more value as a political than a criminal tool.

There's one way to make certain that doesn't happen. All it takes is for the Pennsylvania state police and or Fayette County District Attorney Jack Heneks to charge someone with a crime -- or to say the case is closed because of lack of evidence.

If neither of those things happen -- and soon -- the theory of playing politics gains stature and the circle susceptible to that criticism grows.