The big news over the weekend is the apparent cover-up of Mason's involvement in the drunken-driving arrest of his political buddy/Parma councilman/campaign treasure Tom Regas. The Plain Dealer's Mark Puente confirmed rumors that Mason was the passenger in Regas' GMC Envoy on the night of December 30, when a Seven Hills patrolman stopped Regas. Regas told police that he and Mason had been drinking at Corleone's Ristorante and Bar in Parma. Police gave Mason a courtesy drive home and never mentioned in the police report that Mason was in the vehicle with Regas.
Of course, Mason never volunteered the information and didn't come clean until a reporter knocked on the door of his Seven Hills house on Friday night. "I was the passenger in the car," Mason told the Plain Dealer. "I have nothing else to say."
The next day, Mason released a written statement to Fox 8: “I was a passenger in Mr. Regas vehicle that night. We were stopped approximately a block and a half from my house. I was offered a ride home and accepted it. When we left the restaurant, Mr. Regas did not look impaired or obviously I would have called a cab. No one asked for special considerations. This whole incident is regrettable.”
Regrettable? Regas, according to police, had trouble reciting the alphabet and couldn't walk a straight line (he refused a breathalyzer test). B.S. detectors moved off the scale when Seven Hills Police Chief Larry Durkin told the PD that his officers might not have recognized Mason and thus not bother to add him to the report.
Sounds like another county official — the only one to keep his post in the Issue 6 reorg plan — getting a favor. Some bloggers took their criticism further, asking how Mason's ally in the Cuyahoga County reform debate, the Plain Dealer, will treat the prosecutor in the wake of yet more shenanigans. Jill Miller Zimon:
Specifically, how will the PD editorial board tell us to interpret the observation that our county prosecutor, who occupies an elected seat that remains an elected seat in the new structure, got into a car being driven by someone he, the top law enforcement person in our county, deemed unimpaired, while the police in the prosecutor’s hometown found that driver to be anything but unimpaired? And think about it — Regas lives in Parma, yes? So he was driving like he was, less than two blocks from Mason’s house, and Mason would have been okay with Regas driving like that home to Parma? Is that right?
I need to hear how and why I should be expected to trust the judgment of the top law enforcement person in our county, in regard to pretty much anything related to, you know, law, and whether someone’s involved in something possibly breaking the law, when he himself was unable to detect that very behavior that was eventually identified by the Seven Hills police.
And at Ohio Daily blog, Scene's Anastasia Pantsios imagines the coverage if it had been Jimmy Dimora in the car:
Imagine the article filled with allusions to his irresponsibility in letting his drunk friend drive, in getting into the car with him, in not calling someone to come pick them up. Imagine the cheap shots about Dimora going out drinking with a political crony. Imagine the lengthy speculation on how and why Dimora was able to gain such favorable treatment from the police. Imagine the indignant editorial the day the story broke chastising Dimora for behaving in a manner that disgraced his office.
— Damian Guevara