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Best Media Power Couple St. Louis 2002 - David Clohessy and Laura Barrett

If you didn't see David Clohessy's name in print or his face on the 10 o'clock news this year, you weren't paying attention. Clohessy was the point man for the Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests, and local and national media beat a path to the humble Maplewood abode he shares with his wife, Laura Barrett. Just in the last twelve months, in newspapers ranging from the Post-Dispatch to the New York Times, Clohessy's name was taken in vain 597 times. His photo surfaced on Page One of the NYT. There was, as always, a price to pay for this notoriety; Clohessy lost his job as public-information conduit for the Riverview Gardens School District. Of course, the school board said his public role in calling attention to the priestly sex scandals had nothing to do with his dismissal, but let's leave that for everybody to decide on their own.

Next to her husband's high profile, Barrett's measly 23 local mentions in newspapers may seem minuscule, but she's more of a behind-the-scenes puppetmaster than her husband. Barrett has been laboring in the vineyard for years to raise consciousness about housing issues. When a city use tax turned up millions more for affordable housing than expected and it looked as if the funds would be raided for other purposes, Barrett went to work. With the P-D editorial page and other local media kicking in chorus about the opposition to depleting the housing fund, Mayor Francis Slay's office worked out a compromise. And the couple even gets fan mail. When a photo of Clohessy and Barrett was published in the local daily, some irritated observer clipped it out and mailed it to them with this scribbled in the margin: "You've made your point. Now shut up." Don't bet on it.

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