Not Plagiarism After All - Just Two Gaffes
OK team, earlier this week I wrote an entry, HERE, addressing the fact that councilman (and council candidate) Gary Monahan and somebody named Kent Mora submitted virtually identical commentaries to the Daily Pilot several weeks apart - and the Daily Pilot missed the similarities and published both of them. I wondered whether this represented an overt act of plagiarism or what?
Simultaneously, Mora and I engaged in a comment thread on my recent commentary in the Daily Pilot, HERE, in which, after awhile, I invited him to contact me privately to set the record straight. Eventually he did, but only after I reminded him that, without a proper explanation, he would be saddled with the reputation as an unrepentant plagiarist and folks would certainly be less willing to listen to his position on issues as a result. Plus, Monahan would probably be viewed as a co-conspirator.
Once Mora provided me with an explanation I needed to confirm it with Monahan because he was a party in this little drama. He and I are not on the best of terms these days - big surprise there - so getting him to reply to my inquiry took the intervention of others. Eventually, after swapping a couple emails, he did confirm Mora's version of events. So, here's what apparently happened.
A LITTLE HELP FROM HIS FRIEND
Mora assisted Monahan with the composition of the original commentary submitted to the Daily Pilot, HERE. This is no big deal - many people, especially politicians, get help from others crafting messages they wish to send to the populace. Mora apparently then left town and Monahan submitted the item for publication.
THE FIRST MISTAKE
Mora tells me that upon his return, not knowing that Monahan had already submitted the item and it had been published under his byline, pulled up his copy of the essay, tinkered around with it a little, then sent it to the Daily Pilot for publication under HIS byline. That one is HERE.
THE SECOND "MISTAKE"
Unfortunately - especially during a busy election season when the old Mailbag is jammed with submissions as is the case at the Daily Pilot these days - such submissions are reviewed by any one of a number of different editors depending on when they are received, so the person who reviewed Mora's submission had probably not seen Monahan's earlier commentary and just processed it normally. As the saying goes - stuff happens. Once the editors became aware of the duplication they did immediately include the following correction notice on Mora's submission:
FOR THE RECORD:
This commentary features multiple passages that originally appeared in a Sept. 19 commentary written by Costa Mesa Councilman Gary Monahan. The similarities between the two commentaries were not detected during the editing process.
So, apparently what we have here is NOT an act of overt plagiarism. Mora is off the hook in that regard. Nor was it a conspiratorial plot to publish the same message twice by Monahan and Mora. It was a breakdown in communication - twice. The first mistake was between Monahan and Mora. Without that one the second mistake - in the process within the Daily Pilot - wouldn't have occurred. In this case, two wrongs made... TWO WRONGS!
The end result is that Monahan's campaign message in the form of that commentary now lingers in the archives under two separate authors. According to folks at the Daily Pilot, both will remain in the archives. I'm OK with that because, quite frankly, neither version was very persuasive.
THANKS, BUT NO VOTE FOR YOU, GARY
Will this change the way I feel about Monahan's candidacy? Nope. Even though he eventually gave me enough information to correct the record, I still will NOT support his candidacy for city council. While I'm grateful to him for his public service - more time on the city council than anyone else in my memory - he has stayed too long at the dance. He seems to be just too busy elsewhere to give proper attention to the responsibilities of the office, which he acknowledged when he stepped down as Mayor earlier this year. He's got a large family that, understandably, requires a lot of attention and a business that has seen better times. Heck, he even stayed at his bar to pour beer for patrons on St. Patrick's Day, 2011 when the tragedy at City Hall required his presence. Those of us who pay attention to council activities have seen a very distracted Gary Monahan over the past couple years. It's time to make a change. Thanks for your service, Gary, but you won't be getting my vote this time.