Monday, November 02, 2009

Unsubstantiated Allegations About Unsubstantiated Allegations

Readers of this week's Allston-Brighton TAB who flip to the editorial page will find a series of endorsements for the municipal election that will be held Tuesday: incumbent Thomas Menino for mayor; incumbents John Connolly and Stephen Murphy, as well as challengers Tito Jackson and Felix G. Arroyo, for City Councilor-At-Large; and incumbent Mark Ciommo for District 9 City Councilor.

In crafting the endorsement of Ciommo's bid, however, the editorial page of the A- B TAB engaged in a bit of mudslinging -- about challenger Alex Selvig's mudslinging:
Ciommo has been on the receiving end of a campaign of mudslinging. We took seriously the accusations that were hurled in his direction by opponent Alex Selvig and some of his followers. Many of the charges have turned out to be distortions and unproven accusations. [emphasis added]
As a frequent reader of the A-B TAB, I was startled to read that the newspaper had unearthed multiple distortions and multiple unproven accusations made by Selvig, because I have not seen any such news analysis printed or online in their newspaper. Nor were any examples given in the editorial itself.

The TAB's allegations about Selvig's "distortions" and "unproven accusations" might be accurate; as far as I can tell, however, they have not substantiated any of these allegations on their pages.

The campaign between Ciommo and Selvig has been lively and, yes, there have been some cases where both candidates -- though noticably more by Selvig -- have stretched the facts a bit to make their point. But to my eye it has mostly been the typical kind of stretching that goes on in political campaigns. Selvig did go negative with a mailing earlier this month, and another one that arrived today. But once again, inspection of the TAB's stories don't substantiate how Selvig's allegations in these negative mailings are "distortions" or "unproven accusations."

A-B TAB editor Wayne Braverman did not respond to an emailed request Friday for examples of stories they have run that would detail their allegations about Selvig. The closest examples I could find, in a news story in last week's paper, look like pretty ordinary and tame campaigning -- by both Selvig, who accurately pointed out a $200 contribution to Ciommo's campaign, and by Ciommo, who incorrectly identified the source of most of Selvig's campaign funds. (The funds were loaned to his campaign by Selvig, not by Elite Rowing -- which would illegal under the state's campaign finance law.)

Until I hear something more concrete, I will chalk up as unfair the TAB's unsubstantiated allegations about Selvig making unsubstantiated allegations.

Other Endorsements in District 9 Race

For an endorsement in the District 9 race that is better reasoned, read the Boston Phoenix:
Also deserving is first-term District 9 incumbent Mark Ciommo, who has a solid understanding of issues facing Allston-Brighton — particularly campus expansion — and took on the difficult role, for a freshman councilor, of mastering the city’s complex budget. As chair of the Ways and Means Committee, he managed to hold serious, informative budget sessions in the middle of a fiscal crisis and a mayoral-election year.
The Boston Bulletin also endorsed Ciommo:
Ciommo is a quiet man in the middle of very loud neighborhood debates.

The audible angst in Allston and Brighton is seen as necessary by residents who feel that their neighborhoods are under siege by massive development projects and the impacts that come from the hundreds and hundreds of college students who are their transient neighbors...

We agree with those who think Ciommo needs to be more vocal in his stands on crucial issues. It would be nice to see him act less like a diplomat and more of a fighter on issues like police patrols, ISD enforcement, rats and improving schools. We urge him to make good on this endorsement by taking his work on the council to a higher level.
Note that the Boston Herald did not endorse in this race, and neither did the Boston Globe.

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