Ellen Blitz (and/or her editor) of The Free Lance–Star should be fired.

No ifs, ands, or buts.

Consider the opening paragraph (and sub-headline) of this recent story in The Free Lance–Star (get your own link [I refuse to link to that sorry excuse of a newspaper when incompetent morons like Ellen Blitz write the stories]):

A former Caroline County deputy and campaign worker for Sheriff Tony Lippa was arrested this morning by the Virginia State Police after allegations that he sexually abused a child.

Now, what does that paragraph say and what does it clearly imply?

It clearly states:

1.) The accused is a former Caroline County Sheriff’s Office deputy. True

2.) The accused worked for “Sheriff Tony Lippa”‘s campaign. FALSE

3.) The accused has been accused of sexually abusing a child. True

The problem with #2 is the following: It states he campaigned for Sheriff Tony Lippa. That means that he would have campaigned for Lippa in 2007 since Lippa didn’t become Sheriff until January 1, 2004. However if you bother reading down to paragraphs #5, 6, 8; you learn the following:

According to a story published in The Free Lance-Star in 2003, [the accused, Clyde Charles] Davenport put his name in that year to run for sheriff that year.

However, he did not continue with his own campaign.


Lippa said Davenport actually became a supporter of his and assisted by working on his 2003 campaign staff.

As stated above, Lippa was not Sheriff in 2003. So how was he a “campaign worker for Sheriff Tony Lippa”?

He wasn’t. As I can personally state, while I was going around causing trouble to the local politicians in 2007: I never saw the guy!

And now paragraph #1 and the sub-headline clearly implies the following:

1.) The accused worked for Sheriff Tony Lippa as a Sheriff’s Deputy. FALSE

When you get down to the ninth paragraph you learn the following:

Lippa said that Davenport never worked for the sheriff’s office while he was in office. He had already quit the force before Lippa took over.

It takes until the third to the last paragraph for the utterly useless and incompetent Ellen Blitz to point that out.

Who the heck is this woman’s editor? Better yet, who the heck is she? And what staggering constellation of editorial and journalist failures allowed this woman to command a pencil (to paraphrase a Penny Arcade comic)?

Of course, this isn’t the first time Ellen Blitz has failed to tell the truth in an newspaper article.

Consider a somewhat recent article where she flat out lies and states that to carry a concealed Taser requires that you have a concealed handgun permit. I e-mailed her alerting her to her error (reprinted without permission):

Ms. Biltz,

It is my understanding that tasers are NOT considered an illegal concealed weapon.

Back in July of 2007, an article in The Free Lance–Star stated: “[Fredericksburg Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Andy] Cornick said it is not technically illegal to conceal a Taser unless you are a convicted felon”.

Furthermore, tasers are not enumerated as a weapon that is illegal to conceal in §18.2-308(A).

-Timothy Watson

Her ignorant reply:

While that is the case with most tasers, the gentleman to which that information was attributed was talking about the release of a new kind of taser that does require a concealed weapon permit. As stated in the story, they became available at the beginning of this year (after the story you cited was published).

Ellen Biltz

My second e-mail [emphasis in original]:

What exactly is different about these new tasers? How can they be defined as “any pistol, revolver, or other weapon designed or intended to propel a missile of any kind by action of an explosion of any combustible material” (§18.2-308(A))? They apparently use compressed nitrogen. Compressed nitrogen isn’t a combustible material and isn’t employed through the use of an explosion.

And a concealed handgun permit only allows you to carry a handgun [emphasis mine]: “Any person 21 years of age or older may apply in writing to the clerk of the circuit court of the county or city in which he resides, or if he is a member of the United States Armed Forces, the county or city in which he is domiciled, for a five-year permit to carry a concealed handgun.” (§18.2-308(D))

And a handgun is defined as (§18.2-308(M)):
“Handgun” means any pistol or revolver or other firearm, except a machine gun, originally designed, made and intended to fire a projectile by means of an explosion of a combustible material from one or more barrels when held in one hand.

There’s no way that a concealed handgun permit would allow you to carry an concealed taser (if it was against the law to conceal a taser in the first place, which it isn’t).

No correction was issued in the past case and I don’t expect one in this case.

This is the caliber (no pun intended) of the crack journalism standards of The Free Lance–Star. If you want to extend the sample outside of just Ellen Blitz’s writing, there’s even more:

There’s Keith Epps making jokes about sexual battery (link). He has the same useless editor, Dick Hammerstrom, as Ellen Blitz.

And there’s Robin Knepper (and by extension, her editor, Phil Jenkins) who covers Orange County. She published a story in January 17, 2008 that stated, in part, the following:

LOWA officials blame Popowicz, now a Caroline County supervisor and a loan officer for Flagstar Bank.

“Bob Popowicz was given a lot of authority to make change orders and to direct the contractor to do things that cost money. He was not keeping track.”

No one is claiming Popowicz did anything illegal. Williams, the treasurer, said he thinks Popowicz and Century simply had “too close a relationship.”

A follow-up, also written by Knepper, was published on March 3, 2008:

The overruns are the result of change orders authorized by then-Assistant General Manager Bob Popowicz, who served as project manager for many Lake of the Woods building, repair and remodeling projects. Popowicz was elected to the Caroline County Board of Supervisors in November.

And then, finally, on March 22, 2008, more than two months later, Knepper bothered to get her facts straight:

The ad hoc committee’s report was released on March 1 and was reported in The Free Lance-Star the next day. Headlines on the story mistakenly attributed the $320,000 cost overruns to Caroline County Supervisor Bob Popowicz, who was the project manager through most of the construction.

Popowicz left his job as assistant general manager at Lake of the Woods in early October 2007. Four of the six change orders were approved after he left.

Although Popowicz served as project manager for the Woods Center construction, the Lake of the Woods’ operations manual states that the general manager is responsible for approving the purchase of all goods and services over $5,000.

In two letters to The Free Lance-Star, Popowicz took responsibility for signing four of the change orders, but he noted that they were ordered or approved first by the general manager. He also noted that change orders were often necessitated “by government and regulatory agencies” and were not anticipated by the contractors.

Let’s see, we’re up to two editors, Dick Hammerstrom, Phil Jenkins, and three reporters, Ellen Blitz, Keith Epps, and Robin Knepper.

Oh, we can’t forget the moron, Frank Delano (and, again, by extension, his editor Phil Jenkins) that called a convicted terrorist a “Palestinian activist”!

I have another question, in the original story by Frank Delano, he states that the convicted terrorist was to be deported to Palestine. There is no country by the name of “Palestine”. How the hell do you deport someone to a country that doesn’t exist? Does this guy have a college education? Did he have to take a geography class in school at anytime?

We are now up to two editors and four reporters now.

Oh, there’s Jeff Branscome, and by extension his editor, Laura Hutchison, not knowing jacks*** about the legal battle between Patricia Mancini and Price Jett Jr. over a Stafford County School Board seat (Fred2Blue).

So, that’s three editors and five reporters now that need to be fired.

I’m sure there are more, but I’m too lazy to find them.

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