July 26, 2007

Gazette Wakes Up

Jill Terreri has taken some good-natured abuse on this site, but we've also given her credit when deserved. She may have gotten to the dance a little late with her story in today's paper, but it's one heck of a story, including allegations of harassment and Rivera wanting LaBarbera out. Good stuff, Jill.

TOWN OF NIAGARA: A political storm over DWI arrest

LaBarbera alleges harassment, files police report

By Jill Terreri/terrerij@gnnewspaper.com
Niagara Gazette

A political feud in the Town of Niagara that one candidate thought warranted police attention has created unlikely allies. Niagara County Legislature candidate Robert LaBarbera told police Tuesday night that he received a harassing phone call from Gary Parenti, a fellow Democrat and former state Assembly candidate.

Parenti was urging LaBarbera, who recently was arrested for driving while intoxicated, to leave the Legislature race. Parenti said he was calling as a Democratic committeeman and the call wasn’t harassing in nature; LaBarbera disagrees.

He says that Parenti was angry with him back in January 2006 when he wouldn’t support Parenti in Parenti’s race against Assemblywoman Francine DelMonte, another Democrat. “I just think he’s looking for an opportunity to drill me because I wouldn’t flip for him,” LaBarbera said.

LaBarbera told police that during Tuesday’s night’s phone call, which came in after he arrived home from his appearance in Wheatfield Town Court, Parenti said the DWI arrest gives Parenti the “silver bullet” he needs to destroy LaBarbera’s campaign.

Parenti, a Town of Niagara native, said he never said “silver bullet” and he isn’t sure if he’ll be working against LaBarbera’s campaign because he’s “active doing other things.” “I urged him not to run,” Parenti said. “He’s irresponsible. ... He hurts the Democratic Party.” Told that a police report was filed, Parenti said: “Good for him. That’s fine.”

The situation puts one-time rivals Parenti and county Democratic Chairman Daniel Rivera on the same side, as they are both urging LaBarbera to leave the race.

Parenti just settled out-of-court with Rivera’s insurance company but wouldn’t say how much money he won. Parenti had sued the Democratic chairman for $4.35 million for defamation, among other things, during the campaign against DelMonte, the endorsed Democrat.

LaBarbera said “political people” have asked him to drop out.

Rivera said the Democratic executive committee unanimously voted Wednesday night to revoke its endorsement of LaBarbera. Rivera had called a committee meeting to discuss the DWI situation as soon as he heard about it. Before removing its endorsement, the committee had voted to ask LaBarbera to drop out of the race, but LaBarbera declined.

“I’m going to go until the primary and see if (the voters) want me to continue,” LaBarbera said.

LaBarbera had to turn in his driver’s license Tuesday evening in court because he refused a chemical breath test to determine his blood alcohol level at the time of his arrest.

The DWI, which occurred at 1:40 a.m. July 19, was LaBarbera’s first. His next court appearance is Aug. 28.

The Legislature seat in the 6th District is now held by yet another Democrat, Danny Sklarski, however Sklarski is more friendly with Republicans than those in his own party.

Sklarski and LaBarbera will face off in a Democratic primary in September.

17 comments:

Larry S said...

Maybe Jill didn't want to acknowledge the fact that two major political stories were broken by a blog that's two months old.

Virtual Unreality said...

I can't even believe this whole situation. What the hell is wrong with these people? Do they intentionally make a bad situation worse?

Bob, you seem like a nice guy, but in this day and age, you can't commit such a politically incorrect act as DWI and skate.

If you stay in the race, yes, the public will decide. But boy oh boy, what ever happened to personal responsibility?

Anonymous said...

I don't want to heap too much praise on MSM, but printing tips and rumors on a free blog that are either phoned in or emailed by anonymous or undisclosed sources is hardly "breaking news."

All you are doing is regurgitating anonymous tips and rumors and putting them in the public domain so that the real reporters can then make the phone calls, verify the information and relate reasonably hard facts.

One way the owners of this blog could have moved this process to something that could reasonably be called "breaking news" in the LaBarbera story would have been to pick up the phone, call someone with a reason to have knowledge of the facts (perhaps LaBarbera? The State Police barracks?) and report it as a real story rather than as an unsubstantiated tip or rumor.

I wonder why this didn't happen. If you want to take credit as a *news* reporter, then you should put some effort into being a news reporter reporter.

Not to say that tips and rumors are not valuable in themselves and have their own place in the scheme of political discourse, but to claim to have "broken a story" is just a bit of puffery.

So why criticize Tiereri or any other reporter for not doing what is done on this blog? If that happened the Gazette would become the Reporter. And I kinda like the different choices available.

Mr. Pink said...

Interesting thought on reporting tips and verifying facts. I can see your point. However, how many mainstream news stories go to print based on unidentifed sources. I guess Sail Away could have looked to verify it, but the fact remains that people "in the know" view him as a credible source of information and are willing to provide him with information. Not bad for a new blog.

Scott Leffler said...

Pink,

Both GNN and the Buffalo News refuse to print stories with nameless sources. It used to frustrate me as a reporter to have knowledge of something and not be able to run with it cause the source wouldn't speak on record. But that is the policy.

Other media will do it - yes. But those two - and even WLVL - won't run stories without attribution.

But you're right about this blog. It is a great resource and I tip my hat to Sail Away for the work he does put into it.

Sail Away said...

Niagara Times didn't print "tips and rumors", as stated by someone who commented anonymously. We printed factual stories on Parenti and Rivera, which were later reaffirmed by Tom Prohaska and much later by Terreri.

We are not "regurgitating" anonymous tips or reporting unsubstantiated tips. Both stories we ran were factual.

Do not attempt to diminish the role we play in breaking news, as we have more than proven our effectiveness in breaking news ahead of the mainststream media.

Mr. Pink said...

Scott,

I never knew that. Does that mean the source has to identify himself to the reporter so the reporter can verify but does not have to be named in the article or does it mean the source must be named in the article?

In other words, if Mr. Pink calls the paper and identifies himself and gives a story that can be verified, is that enough or does Prohaska have to print in his story, "acting on a tip from Mr. Pink?"

I find this fascinating.

Anonymous said...

Sail Away said:

Do not attempt to diminish the role we play in breaking news, as we have more than proven our effectiveness in breaking news ahead of the mainststream media

And I say:

No one had tried to "diminish your role." What I said was that you are using puffery to exaggerate your role. Your role is defined by what you do, not what you claim to do.

The role you have played in the LaBarbera story was to break an unconfirmed rumor or tip. Other than a slip up (which you removed), you didn't even have enough confidence in the tip to print the name. The MSM (Prohaska) reported the "news" first. You apparently relied on MSM for substantiation before you released the name.

Your role in the Parenti matter is that you reported an apparent fact about a settlement between an insurance company and Parenti. But the story is incomplete and wholly out of context. Why did they settle? Did anyone admit culpability or was it a nuisance settlement? Is there a non-disclosure clause? Was that breached? Parenti wouldn't confirm the amount to the MSM in one story published a day or two after your "breaking news."

Lots of questions raised, but few answered. And with Parenti refusing to publicly confirm the settlement mount, a diminution in the news value of your tip. http://www.buffalonews.com/cityregion/story/123956.html

I would argue that a tip or rumor does not become "news" until it is substantiated. The fact that certain tips and rumors may ultimately prove to have a basis in substantiated truth, and thus become "news," does not confer retroactive "news" status on the tidbit. It simply means that the tip or rumor proved to have some "truthiness" about it.

Now as far as my anonymity, I have my own reasons for remaining so. But Sail Away, what of your anonymity? Just because you choose a cute nick name does not lift the veil from your face.

And grow some thicker skin.

Scott Leffler said...

Pink,

Unless the reporter witnesses it firsthand - and is thereby himself (or herself) the source, the source must be named. I used to joke (rather harshly) that we couldn't print that the sun rises in the East unless someone said it on record.

That said, if you call with a tip, and won't go on record, they usually will try to find someone who will. Sometimess this is easy and practically immediate. Othertimes it takes a while. And occasionally, it will make a story outright impossible.

If Woodward and Bernstein had these rules, we never would have had a "President Ford."

cg466 said...

Parenti, This clown is a piece of work.The pot calling the kettle black. He couldnt beat the queen of mean Francine and he is giving advice. Hey Gary shut the pie Hole.

Mr. Pink said...

Anonymous,

I say if Sail Away wants to gloss himself a bit, what's the harm.

We need to move the board back toward civil and interesting discourse.

So, Anonymous, what are your thoughts on alternative media...and I'm going to include Leffler's show in that grouping since it's a commentary/opinion show, not news...being the driver of issues and public opinion in Niagara County compared to GNN and the News.

I don't see MSM doing a very good job getting in depth on anything or delivering much on the behind the scenes stuff. I'm convinced the Parenti/Rivera lawsuit story was a direct result of this site. Shouldn't good reporters have checked back in on that story themselves to see how it was resolved.

I'm willing to give Prohaska and Terreri a ton of leeway given the limited resources they are provided with to do their jobs.

So, my opinion is that alternative media acting on tips and other informatin are going to become the driver for more and more MSM news stories going forward.

Pirate's Code said...

Pink, Leffler, cg466 and our gracious host, sail away, have all run up the edge of an interesting and sometimes unsettling issue. That being, what cnstitutes "news" here in the wide, wide world of webiness.

Sub-isse #1 -- are the "citizen journalists" of the blogosphere the same as journalists who work in the mainstream?

Sub-issue #2 -- Can the blogosphere expect the same level of credibility generally accorded msm (deserved or not), especially if the common rules of the msm are not followed?

Lots of msm use unidentified sources in stories, but that is not the same as unsubstantied sources. The typical rule in the industry is that information provided by a source wishing to remain anonymous has to be substantiated by at least one other source -- usually one that will go on the record. However, over time, even that rule has evolved.

A good reporter will also want to know, in some detail, why that source needs to be anonymous. A good reason for anonymity will often lend credibility to the tip. I think most local reporters and editors do a good job with handling anonymous sources and checking the facts behind tips and leaks.

While I think this site has a somewhat remarkable track record in its short history for publishing information that is both accurate and relevant, it is just that -- a short track record.

Credibility is built over time. If this site can sustain this pace, its credibility will grow.

However, if this site -- like so many others I've frequented -- is not able to filter our substantive info in the form of tips, hints and postings from anonymous sources (like me), it will lose credibility over time.

Larry S said...

Pirate's, that's a great analysis of blogs in general. I found this blog pretty early on, and comment frequently because it's fun.

Realistically, I don't come to this blog for breaking news, I leave that to the MSM. If a story gets broken here, all the better.

But let's not overcomplicate this. It's a blog, it's a few-minute distraction from the daily activities, and its what I believe a decent site to come and opine.

Anonymous said...

Larry S.,

One caveat...it is one of only a few places for real time information and discussion of politics and government in Niagara County. I'm a junkie so I keep the site up all day, even if I don't comment much.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Pink asked:

"So, Anonymous, what are your thoughts on alternative media"

and then commented,

"So, my opinion is that alternative media acting on tips and other informatin are going to become the driver for more and more MSM news stories going forward."

And I say:

I agree with you Pink that the alternative media (AM) is becoming a great driver of the news. But the alternative media is still very young and finding its legs and its audience. And because that audience is still limited (but growing) it doesn't have as much power as it will one day.

There are at least several aspects to what AM offers, often jumbled into one. Among them are news, rumors, OPINIONS, entertainment and advocacy. Contrast this with the sometimes artificial compartmentalization that MSM attempts trying to seperate itself into news, Editorial and Infotainment.

Sophisticated readers will recognize the differences, but those who think in black and white terms (or should I say, Red and Blue?) may not in many cases.

In part, I see the value of a site like this as a faulty smoke detector. What I mean is, that it can alert the reader to something out there that resembles real smoke (meaning that there is a real fire at its source) but that the "smoke" is really something else, like mist, steam or even an artificial smokescreen to shield or divert attention and scrutiny.

Anonymity. A concept that offers much. It allows participants to express freely and discuss frankly, without the fallout that might occur if the person's true identity were known . It works two ways. Too often people lose sight of the ideas expressed because of the politics or personality and sometimes ideas will not be expressed because of concerns for offending cohorts.

Obviously the AM can be the subject of much dissertation of volumes of point/counter-point exploration of the conceptual underpinnings and the prospects for the future. Google "alternative media impact" and come up with articles such as this:

http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=26064

Bottom line: I think AM offers great hope for the US and the world's people coming together or it will accelerate the apocalypse!

Sail Away said...

Anonymous,

I think you have phenomenol insight on the media, much more than I do. I am a novice at this, I've never worked in the media, and I hope that I improve over time.

Maybe I was tooting my own horn a little on the Parenti and LaBarbera stories because I was so excited. Obviously not the reaction of a seasoned journalist.

I hope you continue to offer your insight and direction, I find it very helpful.

Anonymous said...

Sail Away,

If you don't toot your horn , what fun will it be poking you in the side?

Actually such self-congratulations is common on these blogs. Don't let some anonymous interloper stop you from doing what you do!