Thank you, Dan Haley, for your gutsy and illuminating column on LaShawn Ford [Standing up for LaShawn Ford, News, Dec. 5].

I have never met this state representative, though the stories in which he has appeared in recent years seemed to indicate that he was a genuinely earnest and up-and-coming politician, worthy of respect. Then came that recent federal indictment on 17 counts of bank fraud. For me, the news sparked an internal response that you accurately described many people doubtless felt at that juncture: “Good. They nailed another crook.”

Having met and covered more than a few political hacks and no-good crooks during my years as a reporter, I am well acquainted and extremely disgusted by the type. They shoulder a significant share of the blame for our state’s notorious political reputation and the resulting fallout that includes rampant job losses, higher taxes and companies fleeing or steering clear.

By contrast, the LaShawn Ford you describe in your column — your phrase “in government for all the reasons that should make us proud” especially stands out — doesn’t come close to fitting that all-too-common stereotype. Without your writing, flowing from 17 years publishing the Austin Weekly News, I am confident many local residents would have little independent insight with which to evaluate the saga engulfing Ford.

It remains to be seen how this all plays out for Ford and his constituents, but in the meantime I appreciate the context and insight you have provided.

Your authoritative voice, ability to place goings-on in context, and historical knowledge of our community underscores the vital role that a truly local media outlet still plays. Amid an increasingly fragmented, sensationalistic media landscape, those qualities are more vital than ever before.

Matt Baron

Oak Park

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