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