Times Union Watch: Editors Print Correction Of Liberatore Story Re Bill McTygue Ethics Allegations

In the August 18 edition of the Times Union, Wendy Liberatore did a follow-up story  to charges recently brought before the Saratoga Springs Ethics Board. Her story featured Bill McTygue, one of the complainants,  giving him  the opportunity to repeat his accusations against the City Council, Eddy Miller, and Joanne Foresta.

In this story, Bill McTygue informs the Times Union that he and Ann Bullock had sent their complaint to the New York State Attorney General even before the city’s Ethics Board had dismissed their allegations.

In a bizarre twist to the story, Ms. Liberatore included a last paragraph that dealt with a 2014 controversy in which the Attorney General blocked a land swap the city was attempting in order to buy land for a new EMS facility on the east side of the city.

Ms. Liberatore asserted in the story that the Attorney General nixed the deal because the “…city was underselling taxpayer owned property.”

Bill McTygue and his brother Tom as well as then City Attorney Sarah Burger (now the new Saratoga Democratic chair)have been promoting this false narrative for years. Their effort to get the support of the Attorney General for their allegations were unsuccessful. The Attorney General did eventually block the project but for an entirely unrelated reason. The AG’s Charities Bureau determined there had been a conflict of interest between the parties the city had been dealing with. I covered the full story in detail in an earlier post on this blog.

The reader might ask, why would this business from 2014 even be included in this story? It appears that Ms. Liberatore was attempting to assist Bill McTygue by implying a pattern of malfeasance in the city’s operations, part of the city manager faction’s strategy to convince voters to change the city’s form of government.

I wrote to Ms. Liberatore pointing out that her statement concerning the Attorney General’s actions  was false and that the financials of the deal had nothing to do with the Attorney General’s actions. I sent her a link to my story which included all the correspondence from the Attorney General’s office to the city. I copied the news editor, Mike Spain, and Vice President and Editor, Rex Smith.

Ms. Liberatore emailed me back dismissing my concerns with a one line response that her statement was “based on previous reporting in the Times Union.”.

Several hours later she wrote me that her editor was investigating the matter.

Later that same night the story was revised on the Times Union website. It now included an introduction that the story had been corrected. The story now ended with an accurate description of why the land swap had been blocked. Of course this clarification made including the anecdote even more obviously irrelevant to Ms Liberatore’s story.

The emails can be found below. They include Ms. Liberatore referring to the revised story as having been “clarified” rather than corrected. When I asked her why the word “clarified” was used, to her credit she agreed it should have read “corrected”.


To: Wendy Liberatore

From: John Kaufmann

CC: Rex Smith, Mike Spain

Correction Re: Story

Date: Sunday August 18, 2019 12:49 PM

In your article titled “Complaint Dismissed By Saratoga Springs Officials Goes To State Attorney General’s Office” you include the following regarding the attempt by the city to build an EMS station on land owned by Temple Yeshiva Pardes Yosef D’Chasidei Belz :

“The Attorney General’s office ultimately halted the deal in 2017, determining the city was underselling taxpayer owned property.”

This is untrue.  The reason for the Attorney General’s office denial was due to a review by the AG’s office that deals with oversight of religious institutions.  The issue was not over the undervaluing of the property but the conflict of interest between the Aronson family who was seeking to purchase the lot and the Temple who owned the land.

Here is a link to my story.  It includes copies of all the relevant correspondence issued by the Attorney General’s office.

This error in your story is deeply disturbing.  Tom McTygue and his brother Bill along with the new Saratoga Springs City Democratic Committee chairperson, Sarah Burger have for years promoted the false narrative that the city was duped regarding the value of the deal.

A cursory review of the stories in the press at the time about this controversy will show how extensively the McTygues and Ms. Burger used the media to disseminate  their accusations.  It will also show that after initiating an investigation at the behest of the McTygues into the controversy, now some five years later, nothing further has been heard from the Attorney General’s Office of Public Integrity.

It is deeply disturbing that the Times Union would resurrect this trope and provide credibility to something that was long ago debunked.

In the interest of credible journalism, the Times Union needs to print a serious and prominent retraction.


To: John Kaufmann

From: Wendy Liberatore

Subject: Correction Re Story

Date: August 18, 2019 3:27

This is based on previous reporting in the Times Union


To: John Kaufmann

From: Wendy Liberatore

Subject: Correction Re Story

Date: August 18, 2019 4:36

Talked with editor. She is working on it.


To: Wendy Liberatore

From: John Kaufmann

CC: Rex Smith, Mike Spain

Correction Re: Story

Date: Sunday August 18, 2019 9:40 PM

What does this mean?


To: John Kaufmann

From: Wendy Liberatore

Subject: Correction Re Story

Date: August 18, 2019 10:41 PM

Reviewing past stories. I believe a clarification will be printed.


To: Wendy Liberatore

From: John Kaufmann

CC: Rex Smith, Mike Spain

Correction Re: Story

Date: Sunday August 18, 2019 10:52

“Clarification”? I thought it was called a correction?


To: John Kaufmann

From: Wendy Liberatore

Subject: Correction Re Story

Date: August 18, 2019 10:41 PM

Yes, Correction.


To: Wendy Liberatore

From: John Kaufmann

CC: Rex Smith, Mike Spain

Correction Re: Story

Date: Sunday August 18, 2019 10:47

I appreciate the decision of your editors to correct the story.

I would be interested in knowing what “previous stories in the Times Union” you referenced in your email (below). I noticed you did not copy them.

6 thoughts on “Times Union Watch: Editors Print Correction Of Liberatore Story Re Bill McTygue Ethics Allegations”

      1. Hey Kara!

        The Daily Gazette isn’t half bad, either.
        Once you get past the WaPo and NYT copy & paste articles, they’re pretty middle of the road and do a fairly good job reporting on the important stuff, here locally.

        Reporter Steve Williams is excellent (no Wendy-isms with Steve); all things considered. Jessica Miller is one of the best staff photographers out there these days (Hats-off to Saratogian’s Ed Burke from the 90’s…too bad the paper tanked).

        And Sara Foss is very bright & straight forward about those silly things that are a bother to her in her daily columns. But don’t expect the rancorous circus of participles from the likes of opinions past. We all miss Carl Strock.

        And they have the BEST COLOR COMICS!

        -JC 😉

        Like

  1. The noted members of perhaps this city’s longest political nepotistic dynasty that now continues to breed dishonesty by manipulating the public’s unconsciousness in their continued greed for power is unfortunate because it erodes the memories of the good work, that was once a part of their legacy.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Enough is enough. These journalists’ sole job is to provide accurate reporting. How many more lies would the likes of Wendy spread, if it was not for people like John calling them out?

    I call for Wendy Liberatore‘s to issue an immediate resignation.

    Like

    1. Here-Here; Papa Toga!

      (And kudos to James; obviously!!)

      Unfortunately, their is NO real “negative consequence” for her miserable diatribes.
      IE: She can’t be “fired.”

      But—-there is ample space in Hades for such members of her ilk.
      We find ourselves at a standstill.

      There are no other contributors.
      No OTHER talent.

      Yes, it is THAT bad.
      G-d save us; from our wretched lot.

      -JC

      Like

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