Have you ever heard the saying no press is bad press?
Well, there has been no lack of headlines for Cranston Mayor Allan Fung, but is it a good or bad thing?
First Fung found himself immersed in the center of a parking ticket scandal within the city police department. Things were bad enough when the details of the scandal were released but many blame Fung for dragging his feet before taking real action and bringing the State Police in to investigate. After a delayed response Fung also dropped the bombshell that Col. Marco Palumbo would be placed on administrative leave during the investigation.
Next, Fung leaks the shocking details of a tragic accident he caused over two decades ago that left a man dead. The tragic tale of 18-year-old Fung falling asleep behind the wheel and accidentally striking and killing a man changing his tire on the side of the highway surprised many but it also kept Fung in the headlines. Fung's tragedy was enough to distract people at least temporarily from the Cranston Police Department. It also showed a more human side of the mayor as he took to the media with tears in his eyes recounting that morning. Fung got mixed reaction from the public with his story, some feeling sympathy and other pointing the blame but either way Fung's confession has kept Fung front in center in the news.
While the reasons Fung has grabbed the headlines may be the wrong reasons it's important to note that people have short memories. Fung has just had more media exposure in the past few weeks than he has had during his time as mayor. If he didn't already have great name recognition from leading one of Rhode Island's biggest cities he now most certainly has it. Meanwhile his Republican opponent, Ken Block, is still struggling to make a name for himself. Recently Block held a press conference where he spent time talking about open meeting laws and attacking Attorney General Peter Kilmartin for not addressing what he saw as a major issue. And it may just be a major issue but problem is most people have a tough time grasping concepts like open meeting laws and the "State Properties Commission." Let alone staying awake during discussions about them. In general the term "State Properties Commission" just sounds like a snooze.
Even as Block is focusing on the issues he feels are important, Fung is out front in the media discussing the issues that play well in the media and people want answers about. Fast forward until August, most of these headlines will be forgotten or just play minor roles in the race but everyone will remember Allan Fung because they have seen him so many times in the headlines. It is clear Fung will not struggle with a name recognition issue but his Republican challenger Block may.
Block can't be the only one frustrated by the incessant coverage of Fung. Both Democrats, Gina Raimondo and Angel Taveras ,had major announcements yesterday that were overshadowed by Fung's tragedy from the past. Raimondo rolled out some of her ideas for Rhode Island, while Taveras touted the fiscal surplus in Providence in fiscal year 2013. While both announcements might have topped the headlines any other day, all eyes remained on Cranston yesterday and Mayor Allan Fung.
So while at first Fung's opponents may have been delighted by the negative press for their competition now they should be hoping he gets out of the headlines and soon. Fung has eight months to campaign and get himself back on the right footing when it come to the police department issue. It's all about succinct messaging for Fung now who can expect to remain a major "news maker" for the rest of the election season since after all the exposure there is no question that people know who he is, and whether they like him or hate him, they are interested in what he is going to do next.
Follow me on twitter: @DeeDequattro
Dee DeQuattro is the assignment desk manager and digital news coordinator for ABC6. She studied politics and communications and holds a master's degree from Providence College. Follow her on twitter @deedequattro and log on to ABC6 .com for her latest in depth coverage of politics and news.