Friday, July 08, 2005

 

Mystery Pollster explain mysterious new Ohio polls

We've been mentally wrestling and talking with others this week over what to do about a "poll" on the Ohio governor's race that recently showed up on a right-wing blog, Polipundit. It was posted as a blind poll with no attribution, background, date, etc. We also thought it was somewhat odd for a Republican blog to be giving eye-time to a poll that purportedly showed that the three blind mice (Petro, Montgomery & Blackwell) we're trailing Strickland and Coleman.

We wondered, is this poll bogus? Is it worth posting about given the lack of information? Is there some aspect of the information that we are missing that would be a tip-off as to whether this thing is real or not.

In an attempt to resolve this conundrum, a friend of ours reached out to Mark Blumenthal, the infamous Mystery Pollster, who has labored tirelessly since last fall to explain the ins, outs and nuances of polling to the masses. This saintly mystery man agreed to take a look at this quirky governor's poll and attempt to pass judgement on it's authenticity.

Instead of giving us a quick thumbs up or down on the Polipundit matter, Mark created a detailed post called "When is a poll not a poll?" It's full of cautionary approaches and bullshit detection methods that everyone who likes to follow the polls should become familiar with.

Mark also dissects another Ohio poll that purports to show how Sherrod Brown would do in a Senate race.

Really good stuff - so read it!

 

Schmidt, others played with Boomer's balls?

The sun came up so it must be another "pay-to-play" day in Ohio. Jim Siegel at the Dispatch has the reports which also documents the involvement of Jean Schmidt, the Republican candidate for the special congressional election in the Ohio-2nd district.
With a global biotech company picking up the tab, five state lawmakers and their guests dined at an Italian restaurant and got luxury box seats to the Cincinnati Bengals’ first Monday night football game in 15 years.

The tickets to the Oct. 25 game cost $300 apiece, and the total tab for the evening topped $5,000.

[. . .]

Before dinner and the game, lawmakers met at the Cincinnatian Hotel with Colby, Esiason, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital representatives, and families of those with cystic fibrosis.

The group stressed the importance of the state Bureau for Children with Medical Handicaps and the need to pass Senate Bill 250, which created a state cystic fibrosis task force.

The legislature passed the bill in December. The legislature also eliminated Gov. Bob Taft’s $6 million proposed cut to the bureau, which helps 22,000 children with severe health problems afford prescriptions and treatment.
This is how the GOP legislative system works. Everyday.

 

Third Frontier or third strike?

We're glad to see that there's increasing interest in the pros and cons of Taft's so-called Third Frontier proposal.

The good folks at the Cleveland Diary have started to weigh in on this, and it looks like there is interest at Blue88.

Our take on the TF proposal itself - leaving aside the horse trading involving the Democrats that may go on to get it on the ballot- is fairly simple: TF is BS.

Now we are speaking here in fairly general terms, but it's important to acknowledge that the centerpiece of the proposal is to use bond money to create a capital pool to support and aid emerging technologies and businesses. That's a bad idea.

When it comes to government involvement in capital pools for something other than public improvements, we are extremely conservative. There is already a huge, flexible and hungry pool of private investment capital available. For better or for worse, the developed world's capital market are extremely robust and mature. If someone truly has a better mousetrap, there is plenty of capital to go around. The key word is truly for reasons we will explain below.

So why does Ohio need TF if there is already this huge capital market? Good question! It's serves two purposes that we think are not remotely in the public's interest.

The first purpose is to provide capital to ventures that the private capital markets have passed on. In other words, to back "losers." Losers in the sense of either faulty products, faulty technologies, faulty strategies, or faulty management. Losers who won't admit they are losers. Losers who try to hide why they are losers. And, losers who are so politically connected that they don't even give a shit - they just want to take the money and run.

Even if we give these entrepeneurs the benefit of the doubt and assume that both potential "winners" and "losers" seek TF funding, can government do a better job of picking the winners than the private sector? Hardly.

The state of Ohio doesn't 't have the necessary skills and business background. Just try to find an MBA that works for a state agency or commission. On top of that, the intrusion of politics on government will interfere with objective assessments. If the BWC debacle teaches us anything, it's that business will do anything and everything to try to get government officials to abandon their objectivity. Some of the names on the TF Advisory Board sends shivers down our spines. And the lack of independent business and financial experts on that board is glaring.

The second purpose is to provide capital at a discount. Private sector investment capitalists adjust the costs of their capital to account for the risk that's involved. Understandably, those who are seeking the investments often think the costs are too high, but more often than not, venture capitalists are very good at setting their prices, otherwise a competing venture firm could step in.

But TF holds out the possibility of undercutting the private investment firms. But why should it, if it doesn't adequately compensate the TF fund for risk it takes in making the investment? And, why should a government agency provide what is essentially a subsidized loan to an enterprise that could get funding elsewhere?

TF will never be a huge success (in terms of economic development, jobs, and capacity) because it is a money-driven approach, not a strategy-driven approach. It has the potential of turning into one more corrupt pig trough that gets Ohio no where.

The right approach would be to one that is focused on leveraging Ohio's existing and unique strengths to build a long-term competitive strategy. (We'll be writing more on this in later posts.)

Every state is trying or has tried to cook up something like TF, but taking cookie-cutter approaches is such an obviously doomed plan that it makes us even more convinced that the Republicans and their business cronies are in it soley because of TF's pig-trough potential.

And we think that voters sense that its a potential pig trough that will have little or no impact on the state's economy. They are right.

 

Legal question related to Noe investigation

We are hoping that someone who is a lawyer or knows federal law fairly well can help us out here with two questions:
  1. Is there a dollar-amount triggering level that turns a campaign contribution violation into a felony, and, if so, what is the level? In other words, does a prosecutor have to prove that the violations totaled, say, $35,000 to have a felony indictment?

  2. Assuming there is a level that must be reached for a felony, what happens if the contributions involve co-mingled funds? So, for example, if the Noes' donations were made from a shared account, is the amount split between the two? Does a $2,000 donation that was laundered through another donor only count as $1,000 for the purposes of reaching the level that makes it a felony?

Thursday, July 07, 2005

 

Poof! Another $71 million disappears at BWC

As the Duke (J. Wayne, not Cunningham) used to say, this is gettin' about re-goddam-diculous.

Despite assurances that no more losses were going to turn up at the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation, the Ohio News Network has just announced that there is more bad news.
The Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation says it has fired a second fund manager after discovering it had lost $71 million.

The agency says $60 million of the loss can be blamed on management decisions.

Tina Kielmeyer is the bureau's interim administrator. She has terminated investment dealings with Allegiant Asset Management, a subsidiary of Cleveland-based National City.

Allegiant is the second fund manager with which the bureau has severed ties. On June 7th, the bureau revealed that Pittsburgh-based MDL Capital Management had lost $215 million of the agency's investments.
Now, National City is one of the most politically connected banks in the state. But, obviously being connected doesn't mean you know what the hell you're doing. That $60 million loss due to management decisions may haunt them for awhile.

By the way, National City employees (mainly executives) have given various Ohio GOP candidates nearly $111,000 between 1999 and 2004. This includes $40,500 for Taft's campaigns in 2002 and 1998. Other heavy recipients have been Larry Householder, Joe Deter, and Jim Petro.

[UPDATE] CoinsForChange has more here including a downloadable versions of the BWC news release.

Now that we have read the actual release, it's important to note that it is Ennis & Knupp, the consulting firm hired to sort out what the hell is going on at BWC, that is asserting that management decisions cause $60 million of the $71 million lost. In other words, independent E&K are asserting that independent economic and stock market issues could be behind $11 million of the loss, but that most of it was due to bad management decisions by Allegiant/National City. Had BWC a decent risk management system in place, it's own management would have detected the Allegiant/National City blunders.

 

Taft executive privilege claim on weak grounds?

Yesterday, Gov. Bob Taft release 5,000 pages of emails from Cherie Carroll, the former executive assistant to Brian Hicks, the governor's former chief of staff. Carroll also followed Hicks when he set up his lobbying firm. So far, the documents have shown little other than an insipid world of politics that brokered White House tours and appearances with Dubya.

But Taft also announced that he was refusing to release a parcel of documents sought by the Dispatch and other media outlets. These documents include agency weekly reports and appointment calendars and schedules for Taft and Hicks.
Elizabeth Luper Schuster, Taft’s legal counsel, said that releasing weekly reports to the governor from his top staffers "would discourage future necessarily candid advice . . . to the governor."

Schuster cited a "significant security threat" in refusing to release Taft’s calendar.
Over this last point Schuster raised, Senator Marc Dann quickly pointed out the absurdity:
"This is not a matter of national security," Dann said. "What did the governor know about what we were paying the governor to oversee?"
Beyond the silly factor, we think Taft is going to have a tough time making the executive privilege argument stick for everything. We aren't experts on Ohio's Open Records laws, but we know, for example, that in other states judges have ruled that calendars and schedules are fair game.

In 2000, the Washington Post went to court to get Maryland's then governor Parris Glendenig's calendar and phone records. Glendening argued that these records should be excluded because they were of a "deliberative or advisory nature."

The state's highest court said, "Nice try, but sorry." According to News Media & the Law:
The appeals court rejected the claim that the telephone and scheduling records contained executive communications of a deliberative or advisory nature that were exempt from the open records law. The court clarified its position on this type of communications, writing that communications of a deliberative or advisory nature that assist an official in deciding on future governmental action are exempt from the open records law. However, because telephone records and scheduling records were not clearly records of the executive deliberative process, the court remanded the decision to the circuit court.
Regarding the "weekly reports," and Schuster's argument that disclosure "would discourage future necessarily candid advice . . . to the governor," we also think Taft may be on thin ice.

First, we think that Taft will have to show that the legislative intent of the public records laws was to allow an exemption based on some sort of confidentiality or advisory content. We don't see it, but we aren't lawyers and maybe a reader will help us out on this. Again, some governors have tried to say that such an exemption applies to them the same way the federal freedom of information act applies to the president. But state courts appear to be willing to throw that argument out unless there is clear legislative intent.

Second, Taft will have to show where simple reporting crosses the line into being candid advice.

Finally, Taft most likely will be required to show exactly which reports contain "candid advice." It's highly doubtful that the courts would allow a blanket exemption. More likely, the courts would demand to see the reports and decide for themselves.

Of course, none of this is helping Taft in the court of public opinion, but clearly that's the court that he is least worried about.

 

Conyers asks White to clarify fed's investigation of the Noes

We must apologize in advance and warn readers that we are going to ramble for a bit about some issue related to the federal investigation going on in Toledo surround the Tom and Bernadette Noe's campaign contributions.

We should note that the Blade reported yesterday that U.S. Rep. John Conyers had written a letter to U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, Gregory White, with some pointed questions about the timeline of his investigation.

The context for this is that for several weeks there has been some grumbling about whether White, sat on (both in terms of actually investigating and making information public) the investigation of Tom Noe's alleged campaign contribution laundering last fall.

In rough terms, the implication to this line of thinking is that White made a political decision to keep the investigation under wraps given its explosive potential and given the closeness of the Bush/Kerry vote in Ohio.

The problem with this speculation is that, so far, it's all been based on some hazy circumstantial evidence. We do know that Lucas Co. prosecutor, Julia Bates, began looking into the allegations in March 2004. By October 12, 2004, Bates had turned up enough information that she felt compelled to contact White's office.

But the public didn't hear of this investigation until April 27 when, in the midst of the Coingate revelations, White admitted that Noe was under investigation for federal campaign contribution violations. At the time, White was reported to have said that his office had been working on the investigation "for several months."

Bates made some comments that initially diffused the matter.
Ms. Bates, who supported U.S. Sen. John Kerry for president, told The Blade in June that it would have been difficult to complete an investigation as complex and sensitive as the Noe case in less than three weeks.

“If this dropped in my lap on Oct. 13, I’m not sure if I would have time to do much before the election,” she said.
But that never struck us as much more than one of those professional courtesy comments one prosecutor might make about another. The giveaway to us is that Bates knows full well the issue isn't whether White could have completed the investigation. We agree with Conyer that the issue is when White considered the Noes to be subjects of an investigation and when he actually launched an investigation.

Now, anyone who has been following Lawrence O'Donnell's writings about Karl Rove's role in outing Valerie Plame know that federal prosecutors can indicate if an individual is either a witness in an investigation, the subject of an investigation or a target of an investigation.

Since O'Donnell provides it, we won't explain the differences among each designation. But suffice it to say that the White would have clearly been able to describe the Noes as at least being witnesses. In theory, making such an announcement before Nov. 4 may not have been much of a stretch since Bates' office did a lot of the spade-work on the case, having spent from March to October doing it's own investigation.

The point is that he should have been able to quickly get his office to verify Bates's work and start conducting their own interviews. Separately, one might be able to argue that While could have also revealed that the Noes were subjects of the investigation. On the other hand, we think it's reasonable that a federal prosecutor might not want to make any comment until he had most of the loose ends of an investigation wrapped up.

Speaking of loose ends, one that's been nagging us is this: exactly who was the subject of Bates' and White's investigation? We keep going back to a statement Tom Noe's attorney, Jon Richardson, made to the Blade back on April 27:
During its investigation into Ms. Noe’s allegations, the prosecutor’s office developed other information and forwarded it to the U.S. attorney’s office, Ms. Bates said.

Mr. Richardson said federal agents have spoken to Ms. Noe but not Mr. Noe.
Ms. Noe but not Mr. Noe? Hmmm . . . How would Richardson know that? He's not Bernadette's attorney. Further, his comment could mean a lot of things but our guess is that Richardson was hinting that White was using Bernadette as a witness against Tom. This goes back to the point we were trying to make above: It would be nice if some eager reporter would simply ask White is Bernadette is a witness, subject or target of his investigation. Likewise, they should ask White the same thing about all of those who have been brought before the grand jury (especially Brett Buerck and wife Scottie May, the latter having testified yesterday).

But we digress.

As we mentioned above, we can imagine that there may be rational reasons why White failed to disclose the existence of his investigation last fall and even the first few months of this year. But, if such a reason existed, what had changed by April 27th that suddenly allowed White to confirm the investigation?

The press corps, unfortunately, failed to ask about this. They also left White plenty of wiggle room with his vague comments about the investigation, such as the "for several months," descriptor mentioned above. We can't think of one even-slightly credible reason why White would not be willing to disclose specific dates of when the investigation jumped off.

Apparently now, someone either on Conyers' staff has noticed this and other vagaries, or someone close to the investigation has contacted Conyers. Again, it should be noted that White may be totally innocent and totally professional in his handling of the case. But the public will never know unless someone takes the issue seriously, and Conyers seems to be doing just that.

Conyers, it should be noted, although he is from Michigan, has a legitimate angle on this whole matter since he sits on the House Judiciary Committee.

We haven't seen the letter, but from the Blade's story makes it appear that Conyers is particularly concerned about when White's office actively began it's investigation, and whether White purposely dragged his feet after Bate's turned the case over to him.

According to the Blade, Conyers apparently interprets the "for several months" comment to mean "two months" suggesting that White didn't start his investigation until March 2005, a five-month delay. We wonder if Conyers has something more up his sleeve, however, because it's not unreasonable for White to equate "several months" with "many months." Indeed, if White waited until March to follow up on Bates' work, he has a lot of heavy explaining to do.

Regardless, no one can afford to be naive in these waters. White was a political appointee who probably wouldn't have gotten his job without the support of operatives likes GOP chair Bob Bennett. White may be clean on this matter, but the public and Conyers deserve to know the answer to the questions about what White knew about the Noes and when did he know it.

 

Don't even try to get our weekly reports!

We're putting everyone on notice right now that we claim "executive privilege" and will refuse to release our calendar, e-mails and other internal Hypothetically Speaking materials. Clearly it "would discourage future necessarily candid advice" to us and hamper our operations.

 

Dann sues over Taft's executive privilege claim

Sen. Marc Dann continues to fight back:
Today Senator Marc Dann filed a lawsuit at the Ohio Supreme Court against Governor Bob Taft for the Governor's failure to disclose public records relating to problems plaguing the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation and the Coingate scandal.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

 

Signature gatherers con public with Blackwell amendment

We have heard numerous field reports that the employees being used by Ken Blackwell to garner petition signatures to get his pet amendment on the ballot are playing fast and loose with the truth.

Seems there are a lot of witnesses that have documented some of their illegal activities that have included lying about the purpose of the amendment, failing to provide the actual language of the amendment, and playing the ol' "bait and switch" with the amendment issues.

As a matter of fact, we had our own personal experience with several of these scumbag petition jockeys trying to bamboozle the crowd at the recent Columbus Comfest.

We didn't seek them out. While walking in a very conjested part of the festival, we suddenly had a petition shoved in our face by some asshole in an off-the-shelf tie dye, jabbering away about how we should sign this "so we could get our taxes lowered."

Taxes lower? We asked, "Is this the amendment being support by Kenny Blackwell?"

They said yes, and agained rushed us to sign. We took his clipboard, looked at all the signature pages that were attached and noticed that the amendment language was nowhere to be found. Trying to sound earnest, we asked if we could read the amendment before signing. Our guy suddenly had a look of panic and dashed off to consult with his partners. Eventually he brought back several beat up sheets of paper that described - get this - the Reform Ohio Now initiatives, a set of three amendments that are actually good and have nothing to do with Blackwell's garbage.

Keeping up the earnest front, we looked at his sheets and again asked him if he was sure that his petition was for the Blackwell amendment. He assured us it was. We then threw his clipboard on the ground and walked away.

We saw others confronting these guys, but unfortunately their "lower your taxes" patter was fooling a number of people into signing.

However, kudos go to the Comfest organizers for getting their MCs to warn the crowd about the petitions and urging them not to sign.

 

Ney: Maybe he was at Signatures, maybe he wasn't

Ney seems nailed on the Signatures FOOflam. Maybe he should call Bob Taft to find out exactly how you do that amended statements thing. Again from the NYT:
Another regular visitor was Representative Bob Ney, an Ohio Republican who is chairman of the Committee on House Administration. Campaign finance records show Mr. Ney's campaign and his political action committee paid Signatures about $1,900 for meals and events between 2002 and 2004, according to PoliticalMoneyLine, which tracks political spending.

Former Signatures employees, however, say Mr. Ney also frequently ate and drank without paying as he spent evenings talking with lobbyists and Congressional staffers.

"There were times when meals and/or drinks were bought by him or for him by other members, lobbyists, or other persons, all within the limits of the gift rules," Brian Walsh, Mr. Ney's spokesman, wrote in an e-mail message in response to questions

Restaurant records show a dinner for 18 was planned for Mr. Ney in April 2002. It was organized by Neil Volz, Mr. Ney's former chief of staff who was working with Mr. Abramoff at Greenberg Traurig at the time.

The cost of the planned event was listed at roughly $70 per person with a $1,500 minimum. Campaign finance records show no payment from Mr. Ney's campaign or his political action committee, according to PoliticalMoneyLine. Mr. Volz did not return calls seeking comment.

"We continue to search our records but are unable to confirm at this time whether there was an event that evening," Mr. Walsh wrote. "The congressman's schedule indicates that he may have stopped by Signatures that night, among other locations listed on his calendar. Absent additional information, we cannot provide further details."
"He may have stopped by Signatures that night"??? Uh, folks, that would be a "yes."

 

Ney: Another pig in another trough

Hey 18th Congressional District voters - you get free meals when you visit DC, don't you?

You don't! Well that's because you're not a friend of Jack Abramoff like Bob Ney is.

The NY Times details it all here, but it's worth reading some of Roger Ailes' take on the matter:
[Jack]Abramoff, owner of a kosher whorehouse steakhouse called "Signatures," placed bugchaser Tom DeLay and other porcine Republicans on a free food list known as the "FOO Comp" list . . .

[AILES QUOTES FROM THE TIMES:]In the restaurant's early months, a customer list noted who could dine for free, according to two former managers. A copy obtained by The New York Times shows handwritten notes next to 18 names - lawyers, lobbyists and eight current or former lawmakers - designating them as "FOO Comp," for friend of owner, or "A-Comp," for associate of owner. [END OF TIMES QUOTE]

The article claims that Abramoff gave away $180,000 in free food and booze
over at 17 month period in 2002 and 2003.

[. . .]

Other pigs at the trough: Rohrabacher, Ney, Rove and Schwarzenegger.

Bribes. It's what's for dinner.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

 

And the Dispatch responds to the story lifting issue

As noted in a post below, we believe Dispatch writer Mark Niquette lifted two stories from this blog and we wrote a letter to editor Ben Marrison to complain.

Now, we have actually found Ben to be likeable and fairly reasonable to deal with. Some of us have even been in some private and editorial board meetings with him where, journalism-wise, he acted in an ethical and professional manner.

Therefore, we weren't surprised to get this quick response from Marrison, which we are posting in fairness to him and the Dispatch.
Dear Sir/Madam:

I read your email with interest. Mark Niquette is on vacation and unreachable.
When he returns, I'll inquire about your allegations.

As for our policy, it is to credit someone else's work whenever we use it.

And as for Mark's work, we have heard nothing but extremely positive feedback on his work. He is an outstanding journalist. But you are entitled to your opinion.

Respectfully,
Ben Marrison
Fair enough. We believe that he did read it with interest and will check with Niquette to see where the story ideas came from. Now the part about Niquette being an outstanding journalist - well, we understand that editors have a duty to defend their staff . . .

 

Handjob washed out? Hell no.

We understand why the GOP feels the strong urge to pretend that Tom & Bernadette Noe never existed.

But, a reader has alerted us to a development concerning the availability of the pictures of Mr. & Mrs. Coingate shaking hands with Mr. Iraqgate. The sudden disappearance of said pictures from the website of an "official" Republican photography company seems to us to be from the Joe Stalin school of history revisionism.

Readers may recall that we had a post not long ago of this:

Bush & the Noes

But, a sharp reader alerted us to the fact that Reflections (luv that name) Photographers have now deleted this photo from the page where it was displayed with other pictures taken at a big GOP fundraiser for W.

That's a shame, since Reflections offers a special photo package:
2 Commemorative Frames with 8X10 & Event Information:
Two commemorative cherry frames, each with an 8x10 photograph in a custom double matte displaying an inscription from your event, delivered ready for immediate hanging in your home or office.
Tom Noe and George W. Bush shaking hands (with Bernie looking lovely) framed in maple? Who can resist?

We'd hate to deprive our readers of this special opportunity, so as a public service, we are proud to announce that after a little internet tomfoolery, readers can now order their prints here.

They'd sure make a nice gift for the Drew Crew at the Blade!

 

Dispatch lifting blog stories?

[Updated with improved story link]

Ben Marrison
Editor
Columbus Dispatch
34 S. Third Street
Columbus, OH 43214

Dear Mr. Marrison:

We have no idea what your editorial staff think of those of use who spend a few hours each day to research stories and post information on our blogs. We can only assume that they don't think much of us since the Dispatch has never really acknowledge the fact that Ohio bloggers exist as anything of serious concern. In fact, any mention of any blogs on your pages has never really has risen above gossip-linked stories in your Life section or a technical curiosity in your Connect section.

But the issue of the Dispatch burying it's head in the sand about bloggers is not really the purpose of this letter. The point of this letter is to let you know that it's one thing to ignore us. It's another to rip us off while pretending we don't exist.

We've heard this complaint from other bloggers, however we don't know the particulars of these alleged transgressions.

On the other hand, we do know our situation first hand and we have to tell you that we were pretty pissed after finding two stories/squibs in today's paper that we think were stolen from our blog, Hypothetically Speaking (www.loganselm.blogspot.com). Both of these were in the paper's "Capital Notes" section.

The first story - this is one that we know was stolen - is titled "Agency’s ex - administrator touts successes in column" pointed out how in the summer issue of BWC's magazine, former agency head James Conrad and spokesperson Jeremy Jackson bragged about how great the Bureau's scandal-ridden investments are. From the story:
The summer edition of the quarterly magazine that the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation publishes has gotten more attention than usual.
Well, we don't know how much attention it has gotten elsewhere, but we do know that we were the first to break this story, way back on June 13.

If it hadn't been for stealing this BWC story, we'd have probably been willing to give the paper the benefit of the doubt regarding the second case of journalistic theft. The story in question is titled "Gov . Taft gave stern speech on ethics during May seminar".

This is essentially the same story we posted on June 23. Actually, we didn't break the story - we only tried to joke about it a little more. In fact, it was Julie Carr Smyth at the Plain Dealer who broke the story and we made a point of crediting her at the time.

And giving credit where credit is due is really the point we are trying to make. It doesn't bother us if one of your reporters wants to use some of our stories or materials as a starting point. We'd even feel flattered. But - and this is true whether it's done by a commercial media outlet or even another blog - we think there is an ethical if not legal need to acknowledge the source and give proper credit. We are sure you feel the same way about Dispatch's stories.

Now, we do have to say that it strikes us as more than coincidence that both stories were written by Mark Niquette, and maybe that's where the fault lays. We have written about serious doubts and criticisms we've had about Mark's reporting in the past, so his involvement with these stories didn't really surprise us.

Regardless, we'd like to know what the Dispatch's policy is on crediting sources of stories, and what Niquette and his editors say happened with these stories.

Sincerely,

The staff at Hypothetically Speaking

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