East St. Louis Mayor Alvin Parks is pledging his unwavering support to Anthony Tarvin, one of the Mayor's political allies.
The Mayor and councilmen Robert Eastern III, Eddie Jackson and Roy Mosley approved Tarvin's appointment to the Police and Fire Board. Councilman Delbert Marion was absent. The other members of the Police and Fire Board elected Tarvin as the Chairman.
Our stories exposed Tarvin's criminal arrest and charge history, which includes charges of Aggravated Assault, Assault or Battery in six seperate incidents during the past two decades. All of those charges were dismissed. Tarvin was convicted of a misdemeanor weapons charge.
In our story tonight, I interviewed three men about Tarvin.
Rev. Johnny Scott is the head of the local NAACP. Rev. Scott, who is a strong critics of the Mayor and councilmembers who put Tarvin on the Board, spoke to us at his accounting business.
Councilman Delbert Marion, a former Police Chief in East St. Louis, decided he wanted to talk with us in the crowded rotunda at City Hall.
Mayor Parks asked to have his own videographer tape the interview. I agreed, although I told him it was highly unusual for an elected official to have someone else tape the television crew taping the interview.
When we arrived at his office we discovered the Mayor had invited two observers (seen below), a woman and a man.
The Mayor refused to identify them, although after I questioned him about them he admitted that they were "business partners" of the city, and himself personally. The Mayor called them "excellent individuals."
It's the first time in more than a quarter century as a journalist that an elected politician has taken that approach with me during an interview. I did an interview once with an business executive, and the company hired a photographer to tape that interview, but I can't remember anyone else taping me while I taped them.
In some cases, people use that approach as a way of intimidating you into asking "softer" questions, or at least giving them more time to explain their views during your story. The implication is that if you don't treat me right, I've got a copy and I'll show somebody what you left out, and how you mistreated me.
The Mayor insisted he wasn't trying to intimidate me. He just wanted his own copy of the interview.
"We're just recording the recording," Parks told me on-camera. "We'll see what happens with the video in a few weeks or a few days or a few hours."
"There are no plans to air the video," Parks said. "But we have the video in case we need to do something else with it."