Monday, July 25, 2016

The Long Crawl-back, Part II: I helped re-write NY State resolution honoring my father

Via veteran reporter Ben Kaufman's media column in the June 8, 2016 Cincinnati CityBeat, the Queen City's longtime newsweekly:
A recent Cincinnati Enquirer story went global, aided and abetted by the Associated Press. It was perfect click bait. The story said that at 96, Cincinnatian Henry Heimlich used his Maneuver for the first time to save a life (of a purported choking victim, 87-year-old Patty Ris, at the Deupree House senior residence*).
...After Peter Heimlich alerted The Enquirer and others to a similar claim (his father had made) years ago, the paper backed away from the novelty. It assigned a second reporter to redo the story, adding and explaining doubts about the “first” in the longest crawl-back I can remember.

Peter Heimlich told me that in addition to The Enquirer and AP, “these are some of the news outlets I filed corrections requests with last week: CNN, NBC News, The New York Daily News, and WCPO-TV. At this writing, none have corrected the errors.”
This is the second part of a series about my corrections requests regarding the lie my father told reporters. Those reports triggered the N.Y. State resolution -- and the original version included his lie  -- hence this item.

* Reporters at McKnight's and Slate have questioned the veracity of the Deupree House story. So have I.



Honorific resolutions introduced by elected officials on behalf of prominent individuals or organizations can boomerang.

For example, state legislatures in Pennsylvania (2002) and Illinois (2003) introduced resolutions praising the Save-A-Life Foundation (SALF) and its founder/president, Carol Spizzirri, one of my father's gal pals. (As Sidebar readers know, SALF is now under investigation by the IL Attorney General and Spizzirri's sordid history has been the subject of numerous media reports.)

Then there's the resolution introduced to Cincinnati city council in year 2000 by my brother Phil Heimlich that declared the Queen City to be an official "City of Character." (What Phil failed to inform other members of council was that the Character program was a front for now-disgraced evangelist Bill Gothard.)

I do my best to prevent well-intentioned people from stepping in it, so when I happened across this June 16, 2016 New York State resolution with some factual errors and a problematic claim (my yellow-highlighting), I contacted the office of the official who introduced it, Buffalo-area Democratic Assemblyman Robin Schimminger.

A member of the assemblyman's staff promptly welcomed my outreach, informed me that the final version had not yet been filed, and cordially invited me to suggest any corrections.

I accepted the offer and the final version of the resolution, filed on July 1, 2016, incorporated my suggestions which I've blue-highlighted in the copy below.

Re: the first highlighted paragraph, to my knowledge, leading first aid organizations in most countries recommend first performing back blows when responding to a choking emergency; if that fails to remove the obstruction, rescuers should proceed with "the Heimlich" (abdominal thrusts).

Re: the second highlighted paragraph, click here for supporting documents.

In what I consider to be a sensible move, the revised version deleted the problematic claim that my father allegedly rescued a choking victim in 2001 at a Cincinnati's restaurant. (More about that mess via the Cincinnati Enquirer and the New York Times.)

I've done my share of copy editing, but this was a first for me, so I'm grateful to Assemblyman Schimminger and his staff for inviting me to participate.

If any other officials are considering issuing tributes to my father, please feel free to get in touch.