Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Someting in the water in Clinton

And I'm not talking about the possibility that Clinton will sell water from Sterling to Nestle or some other producer of bottled water...I'm talking about the incredible food fight that has erupted between a local blogger and one of the town's selectmen.

Patrick Broderick, a former reporter at the Times & Courier and now a self-styled independent journalist and local TV host, has penned a handful of pieces that have been quite critical of the Board of Selectmen. Now, in most cities and towns, a little criticism comes with the territory. If one is going to run for city councilor or selectman, he or she has to know that there is going to be some criticism out there.

But not in Clinton. In Clinton, the Selectman decides he's not going to take the criticism sitting down. So he creates a website with a URL of essentially the same name, and anonymously posts criticism of the blogger. Here's an idea of what the anonymous website was about:
Well the reporter stopped writing for that outfit, and it now has a much better quality of information that isn’t a one sided political hack job, but factual. The writer has however, continued his fabricated, inflammatory rhetoric on a Blog and is hell-bent on furthering the political agenda’s [sic] of his associates. This comes at the cost of assassinating the characters of specific elected public officials....

[W]e here at the Indy Dot Com will report the truth, not some vile Thompsonesque gonzo rabble that is just there to denigrate our elected officials for the political gain of others. The Indy will report news in black and white and perhaps even our reflections on the vigilante Bloggers [sic] latest lies…Independent indeed!
This selectman essentially calls Broderick a hack, a character assassin, and a liar....and he does it while posing as an anonymous, independent observer!

Well, he's not anonymous anymore. After a little digging and prodding by Michael Ballway at the Times and Courier (who seems to be genuinely bemused that the former reporter who burned his bridges is now getting a little heat) and Ken MacGray, host of the ClintonMass.com forum, Selectman Joe Notaro has come forward and take responsibility. On his blog, Notaro writes:
I’d like to set the record straight on the ownership of the domain name thelocalindependent.com. Yes, I do own it and have since sometime last fall. I bought this domain to rebut the incendiary and near slanderous rhetoric and name calling that was, and still is being written about myself and others on a local Blog....

We enter into the public arena with a “thick skin” premise, however, open exchange can only be productive when no one is being called names and no one should have their integrity called into question every time a decision is made that someone doesn't like. Let’s face it; without all of the facts and objective criteria, someone cannot be fairly critiqued. Any useful information in Patrick’s Blog is lost because the facts have been twisted like a pretzel, thereby, rendering it a complete disservice to all who read it.
Talk about twisting like a pretzel! Selectman Notaro writes that he intended to rebut name calling, yet he used terms such as vigilante, hack job, and fabricated to describe Broderick and his work. He writes that "without all of the facts and objective criteria, someone cannot be fairly critiqued," yet he was obscuring both the facts and objectivity by posting his criticisms anonymously.

What is going on here? An elected official certainly has the right (some might say the duty) to defend himself, but as an elected official he should do so publicly, not hiding behind some anonymous Web site. To his credit, Notaro has come forward and accepted responsibility for his former site. Perhaps he has a legitimate beef with Broderick; certainly the blogger has been critical of Notaro in his coverage of local issues. But as an elected official, Notaro has the responsibility to respond publicly if he is going to respond at all, especially since Broderick has made no attempt to hide his identity. (I realize there may be a whiff of inconsistency here, since I am posting my opinion on this issue semi-anonymously, but I'm not responsible to a whole town of voters).

For Clinton's sake, I hope the Selectmen and their critics can have an open dialogue about the issues without the animosity that has been building. There are already questions about whether or not that can happen. An anonymous individual has created a website using the name of another selectman (NSFW), and MacGray has asked Notaro if he is connected.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Post a Comment


No Drumlins Copyright © 2009 Premium Blogger Dashboard Designed by SAER