PDA

View Full Version : Official is trying to intimidate me...



Joycecwilliams
05-19-2008, 06:23 PM
I'm not sure if this is even the right place to post this, but I am so stinking mad... I got to get this off my chest...

I write a column a weekly column each week for a local paper, it is mostly the news of the town I live in.... which is a small community of 750 people... It is not a rich town... mostly blue collar workers... but none the less they are hardworking law abiding citizens.

This morning... I got a call from the Superindendent of Schools (He currently oversees 3 districts... and he was trying to intimidate me about the following article... I edited the names of the people and towns for this posting... but all of it is true... even according to the Superindent. He was soooo pissed off at me... My article will not appear until Wednesday's paper, and I don't know how he got a hold of it... My editor is pissed that he is harassing me and is calling him...

Every schoolboard meeting, he hands out to the schoolboard members anything I write about the school.. and he has called me before regarding a letter to the editor I wrote... again before it appeared in the paper...

The High Cost of Education
Anyone who ever attended an Annual School Meeting knows that the cost of a public education is going sky high. Last year our town paid for 93 student's education, for a total of $1,303,225.00. Problem is up to four of the students live in other towns. At the Annual School Meeting, Miss Smith reported to the Town School Board and SAU that several of the kids listed as students in Town, actually lived in G. Town and S.field NH.

Nothing happened with it until the April meeting of the School Board, when the SAU said it would investigate it. An investigation revealed that two families were sending their children to N. Schools on our town's budget when the families live in S.field and G.Town NH. To add insult to injury, one of the students is a special education student and uses the Special Ed. van.

The School Board is at a disadvantage, since parents can register children at the schools in Newport and give a address in our town, and since most of the board members work full time it is hard to keep track of who is moving in and out of our town particularly if the students are in the 4-12 grades.

Currently the tuition rates per student to attend Newport are as follows: Elementary $10,691. 44 (grades 4-5) Middle School $10,197.20 (grades 6-8) High School $9,634.93 (grades 9-12). Tuition for Special Education was $55,000.00.

Seaclusion
05-19-2008, 06:50 PM
If NH is anything like it is here, the Superintendent of Schools is hired by the board of education and the board members are elected officials. Go to your elected officials and complain. If they don't get him to do his job and lay off of you, use your power of the pen and start writing articles on the boad members refusal to reign in the Super. Always worked for me in the past. Your editor should also stand behind you 100% in this. Remember, these people work for you, not the other way around.

Richard

James81
05-19-2008, 07:05 PM
. Remember, these people work for you, not the other way around.

Richard

Is that really true for a columnist of a local paper?

Joycecwilliams
05-19-2008, 07:06 PM
If NH is anything like it is here, the Superintendent of Schools is hired by the board of education and the board members are elected officials. Go to your elected officials and complain. If they don't get him to do his job and lay off of you, use your power of the pen and start writing articles on the boad members refusal to reign in the Super. Always worked for me in the past. Your editor should also stand behind you 100% in this. Remember, these people work for you, not the other way around.

Richard

I know, I have complained already to two state senators, one is involved with education. That is not what I am worried about.... He calls me whenever I write something. He told me this time, I was going to get sued...

CACTUSWENDY
05-19-2008, 07:13 PM
I am old, so please bear this in mind. If you are 'reporting' the news as it is, (Am sure you verified your info.) then I don't see how you can be sued. I might be missing something here.

As a reporter both you and your editor have the right to report what your findings are if I am not mistaken. You have done so. If your editor is behind you then don't worry about the other guy making this threat. He is trying to save face from the sounds of it.

(You are ready to go to jail, right? Just kidding....lol)

mscelina
05-19-2008, 07:22 PM
Let him sue you. Seriously.

As a reporter/columnist, you have the right--and the responsibility--to report the facts accurately and in a timely manner. As long as your facts are, indeed, accurate--what in the hell can they do to you? Sue you for telling the truth?

On top of that, you might want a lawyer to look at this anyway. An elected official trying to intimidate or threaten you in this manner is a violation of all sorts of fun things--ust be sure you log all phone calls and/or email communications with this idiot. Doesn't sound like your editor is backing down, so the paper will probably take this and run with it too.

Screw him.

Seaclusion
05-19-2008, 07:31 PM
Is that really true for a columnist of a local paper?

Yes. When I was a columnist I went after public officials that weren't doing their job. In fact, in one article I gave the Sherriff a job performance review (not too good i have to say) and reminded him who he worked for.

Richard

NeuroFizz
05-19-2008, 08:08 PM
Joyce, if your data is accurate, and it is public information, he doesn't have even one of four legs for standing. Tell him to go ahead and Hee-Haw his lawyer. Also, keep track of every contact with the burro and document, if possible, any threats or attempts to intimidate. Properly documented, that would be news as well. If it gets too bad, get a restraining order and have him served at his office during work hours.

Maryn
05-19-2008, 08:09 PM
I did a seminar on law and the small press, and I think you're in the clear, although I'm not a lawyer. I see no evidence of malice, just a straight reporting of facts. Assuming that your sources provided correct information, you should be golden. Let the s.o.b. sue.

More likely, it's yet another way he hopes to intimidate you because he's not doing his job as well at he should or could. He should know this stuff that your paper printed, and should have already been acting on it. He's embarrassed and angry that you and your editor outed his incompetence.

I agree that you can and should log all phone calls, jotting notes or exact quotes (is it legal to record them? I don't know) and save all emails from this guy, because a judge would eat them up.

Maryn, reminding you that all AW people who go to jail get free caramel corn

KTC
05-19-2008, 08:23 PM
He's trying to strong arm you. Sometimes people with a pointless little-man position in politics let that kernel of power go to their over-sized heads. Just keep writing and just keep making sure you are writing 100% fact and keep a record of his badgering and your sources. Don't worry. The ass is just being an ass. You can probably catch enough ammo on him to make sure he is not re-elected. Asses like that will bury themselves eventually.

Williebee
05-19-2008, 08:35 PM
Salient Points (as I read them):

You live in a small community of 750 people.
The Supt. of Schools is getting your letters BEFORE they are published.


Question 1: Do you want/need this job? Do you like this job?
Question 2: Is the Editor &/or Owner of the paper on your side on this? (As in will he fire you if the heat -- meaning pressure from his advertisers, kicks up?)
Question 3: Do you have kids in this school? Will you have kids in this school soon?

See, he can threaten to sue. Anybody can sue anybody else, even if the case is groundless. Doesn't mean they'll win. But they will cost everybody time and money... YOUR money, maybe the paper's money.

Also, unless someone in your family is giving your work to the Supt. or a School Board Member, then it is coming out of the newspaper office. That is something that should concern your Editor/Publisher. Some one who will spread info like that will spread "confidential" info like Ad rates, "Special" rates, Employee practices and personal info. Lots of neat stuff that can cost the paper money and advertisers.

The comments from the folks above are dead on. Document everything, but remember, you, and your family have to live there.

Oh, one other thing, -- If the School is claiming these out of district kids as "in district" students on their attendance, and getting State/Federal funding for them? That's probably fraud. The State Board of Ed. might be interested.

Joycecwilliams
05-19-2008, 08:48 PM
I am old, so please bear this in mind. If you are 'reporting' the news as it is, (Am sure you verified your info.) then I don't see how you can be sued. I might be missing something here.

As a reporter both you and your editor have the right to report what your findings are if I am not mistaken. You have done so. If your editor is behind you then don't worry about the other guy making this threat. He is trying to save face from the sounds of it.

(You are ready to go to jail, right? Just kidding....lol)

You are right. I had a long talk with my editor.... however... what I am pissed off is that he trying to intimidate me... It's the third time he has done this... I have children in school... and I worry about that...

Joycecwilliams
05-19-2008, 08:53 PM
Joyce, if your data is accurate, and it is public information, he doesn't have even one of four legs for standing. Tell him to go ahead and Hee-Haw his lawyer. Also, keep track of every contact with the burro and document, if possible, any threats or attempts to intimidate. Properly documented, that would be news as well. If it gets too bad, get a restraining order and have him served at his office during work hours.

I do that. He didn't say he would sue me, but he said the family of the special ed kid would sue me. My editor couldn't believe it... and she is upset that there is a leak at the paper... This is the third time this has happened... Makes me wonder how long his strongarm is...

I told my friend on Thursday, when I submitted the article... he would call me on Monday, and sure enough he did...

Maybe my phone is bugged.... :)

Joycecwilliams
05-19-2008, 08:56 PM
He's trying to strong arm you. Sometimes people with a pointless little-man position in politics let that kernel of power go to their over-sized heads. Just keep writing and just keep making sure you are writing 100% fact and keep a record of his badgering and your sources. Don't worry. The ass is just being an ass. You can probably catch enough ammo on him to make sure he is not re-elected. Asses like that will bury themselves eventually.

Thanks.... I always make sure it's 100% factual... in fact I left some other items out.... because I only had one source.. Everything I wrote came from three different sources..

johnnysannie
05-19-2008, 09:02 PM
Is that really true for a columnist of a local paper?

It's true for everyone. Since elected officials (and school personnell) are paid out of our tax dollars, they do work for "us", any of us.

I've used this very point in my sometimes less than perfect dealings with the local school system.

And Joyce, as another local columnist who has had flack from the local school about some of my columns, you have my support and sympathy!!!

Joycecwilliams
05-19-2008, 09:04 PM
You live in a small community of 750 people.
The Supt. of Schools is getting your letters BEFORE they are published.

Yes.




Question 1: Do you want/need this job? Do you like this job?

I love my job. Been doing it for ten years... The local paper cover about 15 towns.. and all of the school this man oversees. One town left this SAU due to mismanagement. He is not a beloved person...


Question 2: Is the Editor &/or Owner of the paper on your side on this? (As in will he fire you if the heat -- meaning pressure from his advertisers, kicks up?)
Yes she is... she was mortified that he got the column...



Question 3: Do you have kids in this school? Will you have kids in this school soon?
This is my one concern. I have a child in 5th grade, and a child in 11th.

See, he can threaten to sue. Anybody can sue anybody else, even if the case is groundless. Doesn't mean they'll win. But they will cost everybody time and money... YOUR money, maybe the paper's money.


Also, unless someone in your family is giving your work to the Supt. or a School Board Member, then it is coming out of the newspaper office. That is something that should concern your Editor/Publisher. Some one who will spread info like that will spread "confidential" info like Ad rates, "Special" rates, Employee practices and personal info. Lots of neat stuff that can cost the paper money and advertisers.

Well that is what I thought... until I realized that one item he mentioned I did not put in the column.

The comments from the folks above are dead on. Document everything, but remember, you, and your family have to live there.


Oh, one other thing, -- If the School is claiming these out of district kids as "in district" students on their attendance, and getting State/Federal funding for them? That's probably fraud. The State Board of Ed. might be interested.
I've contacted my State Senator who serves on the Education Committe.. will meet with her tonight.