Burns: Trib-Dem publisher leading Vision 2025 is no surprise
‘He’s been auditioning for the past year and finally got his payday’
EBENSBURG, Feb. 10 – The elevation of Tribune-Democrat newspaper publisher Robert Forcey from Vision Together 2025 board member to executive director of the embattled nonprofit corporation was no surprise to state Rep. Frank Burns, who has openly called for Forcey to step down from the board as a profound conflict of interest.
In addition to having questions about who else applied for or was considered for the six-figure position, Burns, D-Cambria, said the hire of an in-house candidate might explain why it was citizen-journalist John DeBartola – and not the Forcey-led Tribune-Democrat – who broke last year’s news about Vision 2025’s “Human Capital Plan” to recruit Afghan refugees to Cambria County.
“Based on his silence, it appears to me and others that Mr. Forcey has in reality been working for Vision 2025 this whole time – ignoring journalistic integrity and the public’s best interest and putting his job on the line – just to be in the good graces of Vision 2025 leaders,” Burns said. “It looks like he's been auditioning for them over the past year and finally got his payday. I wonder if it includes a Sunnehanna Country Club membership?”
Burns said that perk was rumored to be part of the compensation package awarded to Mike Tedesco, Forcey's predecessor, who resigned as Vision CEO after tumultuous revelations that included Burns using the state Right-to-Know Law to prove that Vision’s refugee recruitment plan was far more advanced than Tedesco was telling the public.
Although nonprofits are supposed to stay out of politics, Burns said the Tribune-Democrat under Forcey’s leadership editorially turned on him after Burns called for greater transparency at Vision 2025, including opening its board meetings to the public and holding public hearings on its Afghan refugee plan.
Burns added that as Forcey takes the leadership helm, many questions remain unanswered -- including whether Forcey signed the confidentiality agreement Vision 2025 sought from its board members and if the leadership change will lead to greater transparency.
“This may be the most transparent Vision 2025 has ever been ... at least now Mr. Forcey is on the books as working for Vision 2025, instead of hiding behind the newspaper. Now, any news stories and editorials will clearly state he is working for Vision 2025.” – Rep. Frank Burns
While the public waits for those answers, Burns said of the new hire, “This may be the most transparent Vision 2025 has ever been ... at least now Mr. Forcey is on the books as working for Vision 2025, instead of hiding behind the newspaper. Now, any news stories and editorials will clearly state he is working for Vision 2025.”
Burns added that this is a good move for the community, as Forcey’s role as a Vision 2025 board member had compromised the Tribune-Democrat’s journalistic integrity and objectivity. Burns said he hopes Chip Minemyer, who is replacing Forcey as Tribune-Democrat publisher, has the courage to not make the same mistake.