Bob Turner, former chair of the now-defunct Charter Review Commission, has filed another FOIL request for access to the digital images of the ballots cast in last November’s election in light of a recent court decision involving a FOIL request in Essex county. In the case of Kosmider v Whitney NY Supreme Court Justice Stanley Pritzker ruled that electronic ballots are public records which can be obtained through a FOIL request.
Turner told the Gazette that he and Gordon Boyd would count the ballots. Given the fact that there were over 9,000 votes cast, they will have their work cut out for them. Their hope is to find discrepancies which could be the grounds for going back to court to ask for an official recount. Their charter change proposal was defeated by 10 votes. Judge Nolan denied their last request for a recount citing a “lack of factual support” for their claims of election irregularities.
The Times Union article by Wendy Liberatore covering these developments contains some disturbing factual errors. Towards the end of her piece she writes:
“Most of the officials on the commission vehemently opposed any charter change and publicly campaigned against it, defying state law that requires elected officials remain neutral in a charter referendum”
Aside from the fact that the Mayor and Commissioner Mathiesen also did not remain neutral but actively campaigned for the charter change , there is no such law that prohibits any of these elected officials from getting involved in these referendums.
Liberatore goes on to incorrectly state that the elected officials sitting on the new Charter Commission “will have the opportunity to raise their own salaries and extend their terms in office.” Also not true. All proposed changes will be voted on by the public in November. No change can go into effect without voter approval.
At the April 23rd meeting of the Charter Review Commission Chair and City Attorney Vince DeLeonardis addressed Ms. Liberatore’s inaccurate reporting. His thoughtful observations are worth watching.
There have been a number of articles written looking at how newspapers are reacting to having a growing presence on the web. Apparently editors monitor the number of hits their reporters’ stories generate. I have been struck by both the sensationalistic character of Times Union reporter Wendy Liberatore’s pieces and the frequency of errors of fact in these stories. Perhaps this is the kind of reporting that attracts more hits but the paper’s indifference to sound journalistic practices is discouraging and as Vince points out not helpful in fostering an intelligent discussion of the issues by the public.
I was struck by the differences in how this story was reported by the other main newspapers that cover Saratoga Springs. Here are links to all three. Liberatore’s factual errors come at the end of her lengthy story.