Bad Journalism + Biased Editor = The Gray News

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Gray News continues to publish wrong facts

May 19 edition, Ray Clark wrote:

Example: A lengthy investigation by the Maine Attorney General's office into the destruction of e-mails by Town Council Chair Gary Foster has finally ended.

Biasbust: Incorrect. There was no investigation. Using the word 'destruction' is over-excited and misleading. Also; there was one e-mail, yet Clark repeatedly uses the plural to incorrectly leave the reader the impression that it was a bonfire bonanza of wanton destruction. Not so.

Example: The verdict: Foster shouldn't have deleted the e-mails, but since nobody knows what was in them, no further action will be taken.

Biasbust: There was one e-mail, not more than one, so using the plural is wrong and purposefully misleading. 'No further action will be taken' because Foster did not break the law.
The entire sentence is a misleading suggestion to the readers, formulating their conclusion for them. And it is an incorrect conclusion at that. Clark should have written what Foster reported, not Clark's wishful assembly of incorrect statements. That's what bias is.

Biasbust: "but since nobody knows what was in them" is factually incorrect. The assistant AG and Gary Foster knew what the e-mail said.

Example: Assistant Attorney General Phyllis Gardiner made the decision after several months of inquiry, which was spurred by a query from The Gray News. A Freedom of Access request from Nathan Tsukroff revealed that some of Foster's e-mails had been deleted, although by law e-mails pertaining to Town business must be maintained. Foster pleaded ignorance of the law his first year in office.

--There was not several months of inquiry. There was one phone call from the Assistant AG to Foster.
--'Some' of Foster's e-mails' is incorrect. There was one.
--Using the word 'pleaded' is inappropriate. It is a word used in court and evokes an incorrect picture in the readers' mind. Clark should have used 'stated', a more neutral word.
--"although by law e-mails pertaining to Town business must be maintained" is correct. The one e-mail under discussion was being maintained by the then-council chair and the Town Manager. That is why the AG said there was no issue and since the information in it was still available to the public, it was in fact still being maintained.



  • You write:
    "There was not several months of inquiry."

    Letter from Phyllis Gardner dated April 20,2006 says, in part:

    "You filed a complaint with our office late last fall..."

    Late last fall to April IS several months.

    You write:
    "There was one call from the Assistant AG to Foster."

    Further text from Gardner letter:

    " In response to your complaint, we interviewed several individuals by telephone, including Paul Proudian, Town Manager Mitchell Berkowitz, the town's attorney, William Dale, and Gary Foster."

    The fact that the AG only spoke with Foster once is irrelevant and does not imply that the inquiry was short lived.


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:54 AM  

  • bill dale received a letter from the AG, they called to get his address. And we already knew they talked with Gary. And of course they talked with Paul- he sent the complaint. Gary deleted one e-mail already in the custodial care of two other town officials. There was and is no problem.
    Now, you are suddenly so very interested in the right to know law, what about Pam's violations, holding illegal meetings and executive sessions. She even admitted to it. Mitch scheduled them. When are you going to complain about that?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:01 AM  

  • You write:

    'Some' of Foster's e-mails' is incorrect. There was one.

    Letter from Phyllis Gardner, assistant AG says, in part:

    Although Mr. Foster deleted some email exchanges with Ms. Prata during this 6-month period that related to town business, and may have deleted others that also constituted public records ..."

    The letter uses the plural "email exchanges" and "others".


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:11 AM  

  • Anonymous, you write:
    "And of course they talked with Paul- he sent the complaint."

    Try again. The FOAA complaint was send by Nathan Tsukroff, not Paul Proudian.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:13 AM  

  • Anonymous you write:
    "Gary deleted one e-mail already in the custodial care of two other town officials. There was and is no problem."

    The letter from Phyllis Gardner includes the following text:
    Although Mr. Foster deleted some email exchanges with Ms. Prata during this 6-month period that related to town business, and may have deleted other that also constituted public record, the circumstances suggest that he was not fully aware of the applicable legal requirements of FOAA at the time and did not violate them intentionally or with reckless disregard. Under all the circumstances, therefore, EVEN THOUGH OF VIOLATION OF FOAA OCCURRED, we do not believe that it was willful and thus do not intend to pursue any enforcement action."

    Gary Foster violated FOAA. The only reason the AG has not pursued enforcement action as Gary's lack of understanding of the law.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:22 AM  

  • Untrue. The e-mails are in the custodial care of other officials and therefore it is not a problem. The Gray news 'reported' that the e-mails were destroyed. They were not. They were in Mitch's computer and Pam's copmputer. The Gray news was in error and reported the incorrect facts to create a scenario that did not exist.
    When are you going to get interested in Pams illegal meetings? The violations that really exist? And, by the way, why AREN'T you interested in those?

    By Anonymous biasbuster, at 8:14 AM  

  • Biasbuster, the letter from the Phyllis Gardner clearly states that FOAA was violated. You may state that it is "not a problem" but she clearly disagrees. With all respect due, I believe the AG's office, not your spin.

    In regards to your allegations of illegal meetings from prior Councils, that is not the topic of your post.
    I am just trying to stay on topic here as you requested in your post of 5/18/06.

    Your repeated allegations of "she did it too!" do not change the facts that Gary Foster violated FOAA.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:47 AM  

  • Yes, I also would like to know if you are you interested in covering Ray Clark's deceptions regarding FOA violations? It seems you like tracking them. When may we expect from you a similar exposure of Clark's?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:25 PM  

  • Nice try.

    The fact remains that Gary Foster violated FOAA.

    You can try to muddy the water all you want -- the facts stand. Gary violated FOAA and HE attempted to deceive the public to the truth.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:33 PM  

  • Are you generally interested in FOA violations? I know that Elizabeth had a very hard time with the past council. It was never ending, the things they would do. Decide things by e-mail, hold secret meetings, illegal executive sessions...and lots more. They made a science of keeping things from the public!
    Are you new to town in the last 10 months, and now just getting interested? We definitely could have used you in the near recent past!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:41 AM  

  • It never ceases to amaze me how quickly you delve into the past to make Gary Foster's WRONG DOINGS right--

    Didn't your Mother teach you that two wrongs do not make a right?

    Nice try with more fictional comments!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:34 PM  

  • My mother died when I was 3. Cancer. My grandmother died when I was 8. Car accident. Got any more life lessons for me?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:42 PM  

  • I am sorry to hear that
    How was I to know...?...

    So, didn't ANYONE teach you that two wrongs do not make a right?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:30 PM  

  • My Dad died when I was 4 and I heard that lesson many time over

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:31 PM  

  • How were you to know? Stay on the topic without assuming things and making personal statements.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:19 PM  

  • Shut it!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:06 AM  

  • The past council and current Gray newspaper people participate in FOA violations all the time and then they turn around and cry foul at non-existent current council pretend violations. I find that reprehensible. I like that biasbuster points out the hypocrisy.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:12 AM  

  • Anonymous 6:12 AM you wrote:
    "non-existent current council pretend violations"

    Nice try.

    The letter from Phyllis Gardner quoted above shows the current council Chair, Gary Foster, clearly violated FOAA.

    Please do not continue to repeat the lies. You seriously underestimate the intelligence of people to read and understand the truth.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:01 AM  

  • I hope you are persistently following the Gray News's FOA breaches, too. That would be great.

    By Anonymous biasbuster, at 9:48 AM  

  • Okay Biasbuster, I'll bite. What specific examples of the Gray News FOAA breaches can you site? Please be specific with factual, written data to back up your allegation.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:50 PM  

  • --Ray Clark participated in a meeting that was not noticed to the public, June 2005. As a matter of fact he organized it.
    --The Gray News’s Ray Clark participated in an illegally held executive session which was eventually acknowledged by chair Pam Wilkinson as illegal. mid-2005
    --The Gray News editor and reporter Ray Clark participated in an illegal meeting of the Trustees which was not noticed to the public, that Councilor Denise Duda broke up, 4-2006.
    All of these are in meeting minutes and also reported in The Monument.

    For the Gray News’s Ray Clark to cry fowl at FOA after these three examples is hypocritical. He abuses the FOA law when it suits him and uses it as a club against those whom he does not like. Ray Clark is inconsistent AND hypocritical.

    By Anonymous biasbuster, at 2:09 PM  

  • Biasbuster:

    - If the June 2005 meeting was in breach of FOAA, then two members of the Council (Gary Foster and Andy Upham) also breached FOAA. Also present was Elizabeth Prata - if you expected Ray to cry fowl, I assume you expected Elizabeth to cry fowl.

    - If the executive session was "illegal" Gary Foster participated.

    - The April 2006 meeting was attended by less than 3 members of the Board of Trustees. Nope, not illegal.

    So, to sum up: If Ray participated in meetings in breach of FOAA so did Gary Foster (2 citings from you), Andy Upham (one citing), and Elizabeth Prata (one citing.)

    On the other hand, we have a letter from Phyllis Gardner, Assistant AG saying that Gary Foster violated FOAA not "breached" - VIOLATED. Sorry, I'd say Gary still leads the pack in FOAA violations.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:28 PM  

  • the June 2005 meeting was in breach of FOAA, then two members of the Council (Gary Foster and Andy Upham) also breached FOAA.
    Correct, they did!

    Also present was Elizabeth Prata - if you expected Ray to cry fowl, I assume you expected Elizabeth to cry fowl.
    Yes, I do, and she did! Difference is, Ray took part as participant, but turned around later as news guy, & cried that Gary broke the law.

    - The April 2006 meeting was attended by less than 3 members of the Board of Trustees. Nope, not illegal.
    YES it was, it was not noticed to the public. Illegal. That is why it was busted up by Denise and she reported its illegality at the next council meeting.

    Elizabeth Prata did not participate in any executive session. That was a weird thing to say.

    By Anonymous biasbuster, at 7:56 PM  

  • Yes, it would be a weird thing to say if I said it. I didn't.

    If you or Elizabeth Prata are so disturbed by these "breaches", call the AG.

    Until you can produce an opinion from the Assistant AG that states FOAA was VIOLATED, just like the letter from the AG concerning Gary Foster, I will continue to state the truth:
    Gary Foster violated FOAA and instead of attacking people who disagree with his world view, HE should apologize for the violation, and you should stop trying to distort the truth in an attempt to prove he didn't.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:05 AM  

  • He didn't. I would love to see some of your passion around the issue go toward keeping Ray Clark inline from violating it so very often.

    By Anonymous biasbuster, at 5:37 AM  

  • It really makes a difference WHO is ATTACKING WHO doesn't it!! Why is it that you guys cannot see Ray Clark for what he is??? What is it about him that you are willing to sacrifice 'everything decent' to support someone who is constantly in Violation of every Rule that was ever written???

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:45 AM  

  • Please, Ray Clark has not 'violated ever rule that was ever written.' That is way too global a statement to take seriously. The topic here is Ray's (and Nathan's) use and abuse of The Gray News to further private agendas, while bullying people he does not like and harming the community he fails to serve.

    By Anonymous biasbuster, at 10:00 AM  

  • Biasbuster at 6:37 am wrote
    "He didn't."

    Pardon me, but who is he?
    Gary Foster?
    And what did "he" not do?
    Not violate FOAA? Yes, sorry to say, he did. And that is not just Ray Clark's opinion but the opinion of the Assistant AG.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:49 AM  

  • right, he didn't

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:51 AM  

  • No matter how you state it, Ray Clark is inconsistent and unethical; and does NOT have the confidence needed to be involved with any newspaper!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:28 PM  

  • No matter how much you try to tear down Ray Clark... you are still as low as a snake's ankle for trying!

    Why not find something constructive and healing to do for our town... rather than dishing up gossip and lies

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:31 AM  

  • The examples here are founded in independent sources, such as the Soc of Professional Journalism's Code of Ethics, industry standards, or just plain regular documents such as the charter and council rules. Citing sources and documents is a method that is the opposite of lies and gossip.

    My position is, busting the bad methods of Ray Clark and Nathan Tsukroff is doing something positive for the town.

    By Anonymous biasbuster, at 7:37 AM  

  • Anonymous 6:31AM You ask the question..."Why not find something constructive and healing to do for our Town"...rather than dishing up gossip and lies"??? This is an excellent question; however, coupled with Ray Clark, it's sounds a little absurd!! If you could just 'drive this message home' to Ray Clark & Nathan Tsukroff and the GN...Our Problem would be Solved!!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:14 AM  

  • Proudian and Tsukroff abused the FOAA law by using it to harrass councilors. Is this correct?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:31 AM  

  • Citizens have lately discovered that the FOAA can be used as a club against elected officials against whom they have a gripe. This is a statewide issue. As Attorney Bill Dale explained, and forgive me if I got the towns wrong, but in Kennebunk, a citizen walked into the CEO’s office and demanded one copy of everything on his shelf, and that included BOCA codes etc. The estimated cost in staff time and paper and copies was $20,000. In Harpswell, a citizen made numerous requests, every day, but never picked them up. In Gray, several citizens demanded copies of everything from an official’s entire term, along with other requests too numerous to mention.

    At the recommendation of the Maine Right to Know Law Study Committee, who studied the issue (among others) the Legislature instituted an amendment to the Title 1 that said that “The agency or official may charge a fee to cover the actual cost of searching for, retrieving and compiling the requested public record of not more than $10 per hour after the first hour of staff time per request. Compiling the public record includes reviewing and redacting confidential information.” The intent was to reduce lost costs for the town on clerks trying to fulfill the law while other work went unfinished. It was hoped that if the aggressors had to pay, that they would think twice before being frivolous or harassing.

    As for Proudian and Tsukroff, the Council at that time realized that the requests would take a lot of time to fulfill, and enacted that portion of the law, offering an estimate and asking for payment in advance. Though, there is never a charge to review inside town office.

    It'd be up to you to determine if their requests were harassment. I do not have those specifics. You can ask the Chair, Gary Foster, 657 4754, for more information as to the nature, intent, and frequency of their requests. Or you can ask Proudian and Tsukroff. I am sure that Proudian and Tsukroff believe themselves to be acting with honorable intent. They always think that of themselves.

    By Blogger BiasBuster, at 5:59 AM  

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