Greater Boston Papers Galvin-ized by State Secrecy

March 14, 2015

Well the hardreading staff opened up the old emailbag and here’s what poured out:

This week, The Boston Globe stands with the Patriot Ledger, the Boston Herald, and all of GateHouse Media Massachusetts in an unprecedented, coordinated condemnation of Secretary of State William Galvin’s rulings on the state’s public records law.

These newspapers will each publish editorials on open-records issues as part of a unique statewide collaboration amongst these news organizations. The Boston Globe’s editorial, now available online at BostonGlobe.com, will run in the print edition of the Sunday Boston Globe on March 15th.

 

Sneak peek:

With Mass. public records law in tatters, it’s time for reform

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WHEN AN ordinary citizen requests basic government records in Massachusetts, he or she often faces frustrating delays and opacity. The Commonwealth has remained notoriously weak in providing public records, since the laws governing them are essentially toothless, and thus easily ignored.

Recent rulings, however, have made a bad situation intolerably worse. By interpreting regulations governing the privacy of criminal records too broadly, Secretary of State William Galvin’s office has established the police as the arbiters and censors of arrest records. In one recent case described in a story this week by Globe reporter Todd Wallack, Galvin’s office ruled that Boston police can withhold the names of five police officers who were caught driving drunk.

 

The Boston Herald ran its editorial in today’s edition, which – thanks to the unusual calculus of the Herald’s circulation – actually might have a higher readership than tomorrow’s.

Time for ‘Sunshine’

So here it is the eve of Sunshine Week and we in Massachusetts have precious little to celebrate.

With every passing day the state’s public records law — never one of the best in the nation, but hardly in the sorry state it finds itself today — is being nickel-and-dimed to death by regulations and the bureaucrats who interpret them.

Case in point, a series of recent rulings by the secretary of state’s office that effectively put off limits to the press and the public a host of information about arrests and criminal records.

We credit the reporting of The Boston Globe’s Todd Wallack with bringing this situation to light in an article in Wednesday’s edition. And today we stand with our colleagues at the Globe, the Patriot Ledger (and others in the GateHouse Media family) that are running similar editorials — in condemning a practice that threatens not just the ability of the press to do its job but public safety as well.

 

We really are close to the end times when the frosty local tabloid gives the Globe credit for anything.

Then again, the Patriot Ledger also credits Wallack in its editorial, which begins this way:

Giving police discretion to keep public arrest records secret is criminal

The Patriot Ledger stands with the Boston Globe, Boston Herald and GateHouse Media against Galvin’s rulings on state’s public records law

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Massachusetts police now have sweeping discretion to decide which criminal records they will – and will not – release to the public, according to a series of rulings made by Secretary of State William Galvin.

That level of discretion should not exist.

Police should never have the power to shield the identities of those they arrest or keep information about arrests secret. Given their role in our society, police should always be transparent – most especially when one of their own is charged with a crime.

 

Further on: “In a March 11 Globe article, “With Mass. OK, police withhold criminal records,” Todd Wallack reports Galvin’s office “decided that many records related to criminal charges are exempt from the Massachusetts public records law, giving individual police chiefs and other officials the power to decide what to release or keep secret …”

The Patriot Ledger calls the triple-teaming “an unprecedented, coordinated condemnation of Galvin’s rulings on the state’s public records law.”

We doubt this coordination will become a regular feature in the local press, but nice to see precedent broken every now and again.


What Can the Herald Not Do for Brown? (Florida Scamsters Edition)

June 5, 2014

As the hardreading staff noted earlier, the Boston Herald is working overtime to ignore anything negative about its policrush Scott Brown (R-Elsewhere), while the Boston Globe front-pages once again Brown’s questionable involvement with the shady Florida outfit, Global Digital Solutions.

Brown’s solution to his Globe-al problem? Dump the scamsters. Todd Wallack and Noah Bierman continue to report.

Brown cuts ties to Fla. company

Gives up stock, says his role had become campaign distraction

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Republican Scott Brown abruptly resigned Wednesday from an obscure Florida company and gave up stock initially valued at $1.3 million after facing a barrage of questions about his role as a “senior adviser,” a controversy that had dogged his US Senate campaign in New Hampshire.

Brown’s resignation from the advisory board of Global Digital Solutions Inc. was announced about two hours after a news media event in the state’s capital designed to highlight his official entry into the race. He was repeatedly challenged by reporters in Concord seeking answers about what he had done to earn the stock grant, and whether he had scrutinized the company before lending it his name.

“I’ve already answered it for two days,” Brown said, defending his role at the company. “We put out a statement.” The questions continued, and Brown said, “I am not really sure what else to say,” as cameras recorded him getting into his green GMC truck. Democrats promptly posted video of the uncomfortable exchange.

 

Said video:

 

 

And it’s not just the Democrats who are on Brown’s case – other news organizations are hounding him too, as a quick search of the Googletron reveals.

 

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Notably absent from the list? That’s right – the Herald. Far be it from the flirty local tabloid to criticize its pinup boy, eh?

 


What Can the Herald Not Do for Brown?

June 3, 2014

The Boston Herald has long been the house organ for former Sen. Scott Brown (R-Elsewhere), routinely boosting the peripatetic pol through what it does – and does not – cover.

Exhibit Umpteen of the latter comes today, as the flirty local tabloid completely ignores the biggest story about Brown right now – his questionable involvement with a shady Florida outfit called Global Digital Solutions.

Crosstown at the Boston Globe, the Brownanigans have been front-page news – twice.

From the Boston Sunday Globe:

Scott Brown got big stake in obscure Florida firm

For advisory role, an award with initial worth of $1.3m

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An obscure company in West Palm Beach that markets itself as a firearms manufacturer made a splashy announcement last summer: It was appointing Scott Brown, the former Massachusetts senator, to its advisory board.

Not revealed at the time was what Brown received in exchange for lending his name to the venture. But a report the company made to the Securities and Exchange Commission last month, which has not been previously made public, shows that Brown received stock that was worth $1.3 million at the time. Its value has declined considerably since then, as the stock price has fallen by half.

 

Sort of like Brown’s own stock, eh? According to the piece by Todd Wallack and Noah Bierman, Global Digital Solutions started out as a beauty supply company and “does not yet sell or make guns. It has no revenue, no patents, no trademarks, no manufacturing facilities, and no experience developing weapons, according to its most recent corporate filings.”

Hmmmm.

From today’s Globe:

Scott Brown defends stake in Florida company

Says he advises startup; rivals call for disclosure

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WINDHAM, N.H. — Scott Brown, former senator of Massachusetts, on Monday defended his decision to accept 1.5 million shares of stock from an obscure Florida company, saying he offers guidance and serves as a sounding board in exchange for his large stake in the firm.

“It’s a startup company that I’ve been on the board for, what seven, eight months, offering any type of advice when asked,” Brown said in a brief interview after a campaign event at a local gas station highlighting his energy plans.

Brown defended the legitimacy of the company, Global Digital Solutions Inc., dismissing concerns that it has announced a series of acquisitions that have not been completed. Among them was an announcement in March that it intended to buy Remington Arms Co. LLC, one of the world’s largest gun manufacturers, for more than $1 billion. That was greeted with derision by Remington and others in the industry.

 

Derision! That’s what Brown has in common with Global Digital Solutions. It all makes sense now.