Wednesday, May 22, 2013

More Hats Than A Haberdashery

 Larry Kelley, Amherst Town Meeting member, Precinct 5

So yes, I consider myself a digital first reporter who mostly uses Blogger as a publishing platform, although these days strongly supplemented by Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. 

Basic principals of journo are sacred:  Seek truth and report it -- especially when the powerful wish it kept secret -- mitigate harm to the innocent, and protect with your dying breath confidential sources.

But I can assure you other roles on occasion override my role as reporter.  For instance, if a tornado hit Crocker Farm School this morning my role as a Dad would come first should I be early on the scene.  As a matter of fact even if it was not the particular school my daughters attend, my initial actions would be to help rather than report.

Landlord Richard Gold who spoke against article #29 (Rental Registration Permit bylaw)  Monday night bitterly complained about my actions on the floor of Town Meeting and called into question my journalist ethics:

"As a so called reporter who chooses to sit in the front row designated for the press it is your obligation to keep your opinions to yourself and your mouth shut. Not to interrupt speakers so as to disrupt and discredit what they are saying. It was your voice alone that first objected to a portion of my speech."

First off, the moderator clearly states at the beginning of every town meeting the front row " may be used by members of the press or town staff" (with special ID showing they are "non voters") but does not suggest regular town meeting members should not sit there, as about a dozen usually do.

In fact I have been in that location for almost all my nearly 20 years as an Amherst Town Meeting member.

As to my "point of order" (which yes, a few savvy members of Town Meeting use as a weapon to distract speakers), I was invoking the Rule of Decorum that clearly states a speaker should "refrain from characterizing a member's motives or impugning the character of other members."

And as you can clearly see it was not long after that the moderator himself interrupted Mr. Gold for that very reason.  Twice.  So I think his real problem is what most people refer to as "sour grapes".

Over on the Town Meeting listserve Amherst landlord and ZBA member Hilda Greenbaum who was a staunch opponent of article #29 wrote: "Where were the unhappy folks last night against a well-oiled neighborhood? Everyone (including myself) seemed to be cowed by their persistence. "

Mr Gold also lamented "Most of my landlord colleagues were unhappy with Article 29 and it went beyond self-serving. In the end they turned out to be summer soldiers when it came time to speak out publicly."

After all the sound and fury leading up to the epic vote, it was almost anti-climactic.  Notice the somewhat stunned silence immediately after the resounding voice vote:

Voice vote was overwhelmingly in favor

The voice of experience


Anonymous said...

Is it the "truth" you portend to report, or your "seeking of the truth"?

Larry Kelley said...


Anonymous said...

A blog is a place of opinion. You do not just report the news, Larry. You report the news in a very slanted way, based on your opinion of things. Which is A-ok with me because after all, this is your blog. But it drives me nuts when you purport to be a journalist, reporting news in an objective fashion. Nothing could be further from the truth. Also, the news you DECIDE to write about also is heavily biased based on your opinion. Again, fine since this is your blog, but to say you are an objective journalist of some sort is WAY beyond the pale.

Even the comments you choose to publish are subject to your opinion and bias on a subject.

Larry Kelley said...

I don't pretend to be an old fashioned "objective journalist."

My most extensive background was that of columnist, who are supposed to be opinionated.

Anonymous said...

how will the truth make itself known to us?

Anonymous said...

Then you should call yourself a columnist and/or blogger - not a journalist.

Larry Kelley said...

Columnist are considered journalists.

At least I sign my name to every word Pal.

Anonymous said...

It's sort of like being an artist in this town; anyone can hang up their shit in Gallery A3, set up a website, and, voila... you're an artist.

Larry Kelley said...

Sort of.

Except they probably don't get the monthly traffic I get.

Because people know and trust my news judgement.

Bathsheba said...

Can you explain the "add on" you refer to? What are they attaching to this thing?

Larry Kelley said...

At the time I -- according to Richard Gold --"swaggered" to the podium, there was an amendment on the floor that would have changed the main motion to exempt "owner occupied" dwellings.

Which is why I brought up my family history with renting as an "owner occupied dwelling".

But yes I guess I should have used the term "subtract" since it would have watered down the main motion.

The motion to amend failed and the main, stronger, motion then passed overwhelmingly.

Walter Graff said...

Definition of JOURNALIST
1a : a person engaged in journalism; especially : a writer or editor for a news medium
b : a writer who aims at a mass audience

So by definition Larry you are a journalist.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone remember why Mr. Gold hated the Housing Review Board?

Anonymous said...

Sorry, Larry, but you are nothing close to a real journalist. You are a gossipy neighborhood blogger posting mostly your own steadfast opinions on town issues (AFD good! Cherry Hill bad! Parades good! Parties bad!)

For one thing, f you were a real journalist, you would not be a Town Meeting member. Surely in whatever journalism classes you have taken, they taught you about conflict of interest ...

As usual, you will enact your own right to censorship and won't publish this because it disagrees with you. This censorship is further proof of how far from real journalism you are.

Larry Kelley said...

At least nobody has ever accused me of being a Cowardly Anon Nitwit.