I just can’t hate Shaun Sutner, despite the fact that I continually misspell his first name.  (I also can’t hate anyone who tweets that people should call him with news tips.  I also can’t hate Ke$ha.  Take from that what you will.)

He has a relatively new column/blog on telegram.com called ElectionNet.  And I actually kind of like it, especially since he mentioned the extremely awesome No Drumlins.

However, I’ve got some issues with what he’s discussed so far.


I thought his discussion about whether Margot Barnet should be called a doctor was kind of bizarre.  The T&G’s style sheet would say no, because she’s not an MD.  However, the T&G continually refers to Craig Mello as a “doctor” even though he has a PhD (not an MD) and (according to their style sheet) should be referred to as “Mr.”  Perhaps when the T&G decides to follow their own guidelines, I’ll take this kind of commentary more seriously.

[Full disclosure: I’ve met Margot Barnet twice, both in the context of REC Earth Day cleanups.  The first time, we discussed the history of God’s Acre.  The second time, I gave a short, off-the-cuff speech at City Hall about those cleanups and she complimented my public speaking skills.  Everyone knows I’ll say something nice about anyone who so much as smiles at me.  Disclosure over.]


A couple of days ago, Sutner discussed various politicians having TV programs on WCCA; he said, “While it is their First Amendment right to do so, it often looks like they’re usurping the role of journalists when they’ve clearly got their own political interests at heart.”

My take is that it’s more “Is the TV station giving one candidate more free exposure than the other?”  Konnie Lukes isn’t on WCCA to further a political agenda (beyond keeping her face out there).  I’d be interested to see if any commenters have a different take on this.


Continuing his quest for questionable conflicts of interest, Sutner notes that a 13th Worcester State Rep debate series will have three panelists: Martha Akstin, a former WoMag editor and columnist, who is also a “longtime aide to Bob Spellane”; Gary Rosen, who needs no introduction; and Dianne Williamson, “the only real journalist of the group.”

So all the time Akstin spent as a journalist is — in some way — not real?  Or is it just not current enough for Sutner? 

Perhaps working for Bob Spellane would be enough to disqualify her…if he were running in this race, or if he’d endorsed someone.  Perhaps her involvement in community politics (Sutner mentions Paxton Housing Partnership and the aforementioned work for  Spellane) would disqualify her from being a panelist if it were a touch more partisan (towards or against a specific candidate).  But Sutner mentions her “stake in other local issues” as if it were on par with leprosy.  Shouldn’t you want a panelist who’s familiar with the issues in the district and involved in her community?

(I totally agree with Sutner on Rosen.  He came out early showing more than a modicum of favor towards Smith.  But I don’t think anyone thinks he’s a capital-J journalist any more than they consider Jordan Levy or Peter Blute or any other politician-turned-on-air-scold to be a journalist.)

Also, Sutner implies that Dianne Williamson would be more impartial than either Akstin or Rosen.  While this might be true, Williamson is a columnist, which is a flavor of journalist that is allowed a good degree of bias and partiality.  [Full disclosure: Dianne Williamson was nice to me recently.]  Let’s not pretend that any journalist is completely unbiased.  There are always going to be politicians and journalists who enter into mutually beneficial relationships, there are always going to be journalists who end up working for politicians, and there are always going to be politicians who “retire” from public service but remain in the public consciousness through radio, print, and — yes — public access TV.

Where do you draw the line at who can serve on a panel for a debate?  If someone must only be a journalist at the moment, we’ll have pretty slim pickings.  Should we restrict it to someone who’s made no campaign donations for so many years?  Someone who’s never volunteered for a campaign?  Someone who’s never served on a board or commission? 

There comes a point when you have to accept that sometimes people are politically active because they want to make a difference in their community, and that their political activity wouldn’t necessarily preclude them from being fair during a debate that will last a few hours. 

If we start excluding everyone with some sort of political activity from serving on these panels, pretty soon the only debate panelists will be sixteen-year-olds who spend their Monday nights watching Gossip Girl.


Some Worcester Mentions

I only read the Boston Globe for the Worcester news.

First, Cambridge wasn’t aware that the Lt. Governor wants some (if not half) of the commuter trains from Worcester to go to North Station.

Second, it seems like all Charlie Pierce does in The Most Annoying Column Of All Time (seriously, the telegram.commenters should quit ragging on Clive and pick on Charlie one Sunday a month) is name check Worcester.

Third, there was this great statement about our fair city:

Speaking of [Samuel] Fuller, he was born in Worcester. Isn’t it time someone wrote a study of that city’s disproportionate contribution to American culture? Poets especially have flourished there. Charles Olson, Stanley Kunitz, and Elizabeth Bishop were born in Worcester, and Frank O’Hara grew up there. O’Hara, the author of “Poem (Lana Turner has collapsed!),’’ was one of American literature’s foremost movie fans. “Only [Walt] Whitman and [Hart] Crane and [William Carlos] Williams, of the American [poets],’’ he once wrote, “are better than the movies.’’ Cinematically, Bishop offers a bit of balance to O’Hara. In her great poem “Invitation to Marianne Moore,’’ there’s a reference to “the malignant movies.’’ Presumably, she wasn’t a Fuller fan. “The Steel Helmet’’? “Shock Corridor’’? Don’t think so.

And, finally, via frequent commenter t-traveler, this quote, about patio chairs being stolen in Boston:

DeFanza’s lunch partner, Isabella Ciolfi, 19, sat with bare feet, curled up in her chair, and thought about what would happen to moveable chairs in a park in her hometown. “I mean in Worcester they would just disappear,’’ Ciolfi said.

(That quote actually ticks me off, because — obviously — in Boston they actually “just disappeared.”)

PS — Not from the Globe, but well worth your attention, is this piece of dog-ordinance-related ephemera from Worcester.

Balancing Worcester’s budget over breakfast

As a reminder that you should show up at tomorrow night’s City Council meeting (6pm, Esther Howland Chamber) regarding the proposed pit bull ordinance, here’s an actual conversation that occurred in my house this morning.

Me: “The City’s looking for bids on animal shelters for $50,000.  Who else but WARL is qualified to do that?”

Husband: “Well, all they really need is $500.”

Me: ?I?

Husband: “They give Bill Eddy $500 to buy a .45 pistol.  Every night after supper, he can shoot a few pit bulls and leave them on his front lawn for DPW to pick up in the morning and throw on the compost pile.”

(a few minutes later)

Husband: “Make that $600 and we can throw in a silencer.  That way we won’t have any neighbor complaints.”Puppy Doom

Lest you think that the only insults in our house are directed at city officials…

This morning I complained that my closet was too full.

My husband noted that I’m becoming the Imelda Marcos of pantsuits.

Just one more thing I have in common with Konnie Lukes!