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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
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    275

    Default Sos

    In reading the WVN e-mail today, I was struck by the story linking SOS and YES4WHS and interested in what the take was on this. I've copied the bulk of what was written below for reference, and included an attachment of the letter filed with the Town Clerk.

    My questions are this

    1. How do people feel about having their e-mails sold/given away to organizations in town without their permission?
    2. Why did SOS feel the need to hide behind YES4WHS to advocate for the high school?
    3. What is the future of this group in the eyes of Wayland citizens?

    First off, this has nothing to do with the HS Vote.

    I'll be up front in saying there is no love lost on my part for SOS. Just the pure division their presence has created in town politics has fundamentally changed the Town of Wayland for the worse, in my opinion. This post, though, is for the purpose of hearing all sides of the argument.

    As for my answers:

    1. I would be quite aggravated knowing an organization that expressly states that they "will never share, sell, or rent individual personal information with anyone for their promotional use without your advance permission or unless ordered by a court of law" turns around and does just that. On top of that, to value SOS' e-mail list at $150 is absurd. Anyone who has bought a list of e-mails could attest to that.

    2. I really can't imagine why SOS did not lead the charge here, unless what was written by WVN below rang mostly true.

    3. The future of this group -- I imagine they're here to stay. I don't believe unity in town politics and dissipation of division matters much to these folks. Their marketing presence has the ear of the people currently sitting on the BoS and the SC. Current SC Chair Lou Jurist referred to "the SC's most ardent supporters" -- a euphemisim for this group that has been used before -- only weeks ago when discussing the planned override for 2011. They will only go when those sitting on the committees/boards stop turning to them or when new/unencumbered folks are elected to replace those currently sitting.

    From 1/27 WVN Newsletter

    At least one citizen raised the matter with the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance. As a result, the OCPF ordered YES4WHS to amend its financial report to include the fact that its email distribution list came from the nearly-five-year-old political action committee SOSWayland. In-kind contributions, such as that valuable communication asset, must be declared.

    YES4WHS Treasurer Nancy Funkhouser wrote to the Wayland town clerk on Jan. 15 to amend its financial report and assign a cash value. The $150 listed would be a huge bargain in the business world, where a targeted mailing list might sell for several dollars per address.

    Sharing the email list with YES4WHS also violates the stated policy of SOS, which tells its readers, "Our spam-free email list is used solely to keep you informed about issues relating to Wayland services." Email you didn't ask for can be considered spam. (Also, the policy fails to disclose that the email list is used not simply to inform but to urge voting for SOS-endorsed issues.)

    SOS' published Email Privacy Policy says in part, "We will never share, sell, or rent individual personal information with anyone for their promotional use without your advance permission or unless ordered by a court of law...If you believe you have received unwanted, unsolicited email sent via this system or purporting to be sent via this system, please forward a copy of that email with your comments to abuse@constantcontact.com for review."

    Asked for details of the arrangement with YES4WHS, SOS leader [name deleted] replied by email: "The public records address your questions."

    The records answer few questions, but they do show that the leadership of the two organizations is much the same.

    SOS is registered as a PAC with the OCPF. According to its website, it also files as a Ballot Question Committee "during election season when we are advocating for a question on the ballot. We then operate as SOS-BQC, and per the Office of Campaign and Political Finance we dissolve the BQC after the election."

    Before the November election there was no "SOS-BQC" but essentially SOS under a different name.

    [Names deleted here] SOS Co-chairs -- were identified among co-chairs of the YES4WHS campaign. Three of them received reimbursements for expenditures on behalf of YES4WHS totaling $1752.71.

    Before dissolving, YES4WHS reported collecting $6,922 for its campaign. There was no organized opposition.

    More than 99 percent of the total raised came from the 29 persons who were required by law to provide names and amounts for donations exceeding $50. The largest donation was $1,000. Filed reports may be seen at the town clerk's office.

    Why didn't SOS follow its stated policy of registering as a Ballot Question Committee before the November election? [Name deleted] didn't say. A look at SOS' history suggests one possible answer.

    SOS was formed after voters rejected an earlier high school proposal in January 2005. A School Committee member at that time, Bob Gordon, commented that school proponents needed someone "like[name deleted]" to do "marketing" for future proposals. [Name deleted] became a founding leader of SOS. (At the time, some residents with children in Wayland schools said they wondered how they got on SOS' email list to begin with.)

    SOS has supported every big-ticket recommendation of the School Committee and the selectmen. It also routinely advises readers to oppose any budget amendments on the floor of Town Meeting.

    Some voters indeed see SOS as the marketing arm of the these two powerful boards. For those who worry about rapidly rising taxes and controversial decisions by officials, SOS could look like part of the problem.

    Particularly before the current deep recession, officials talked about a pattern of biennial tax overrides. Substantial pluralities voted against recent overrides.

    Some school parents objected to the School Committee's decision two years ago to close Loker School to reduce the size of an override.

    Though SOS says it supports not only the schools but all town services, it backed override proposals that were sold with fear tactics. One example: If you defeat the override we'll cut emergency service. The cost of leaving the Cochituate fire station open at all times was small, but the override choice was yes or no to the entire override.

    SOS also has remained silent when changes to other important town services have upset affected residents. When landfill sticker fees shot up over 30 percent for Fiscal 2009, SOS said nothing. When the water department imposed a new flat surcharge of $236 per customer in spring 2009, regardless of water use, not a word from SOS. When selectmen voted to close the town's septage facility by the end of 2009, SOS was silent about the loss of that local facility and the prospect of resulting higher costs for Waylanders. The latest budget cuts for Fiscal 2011 by the town administrator recommend closing the library two nights a week. Not a word from SOS on that.

    Last winter SOS created a controversy when it held a private meeting to discuss the "state of Wayland" at [name deleted]'s house, inviting top elected officials and town employees but not the public. Even one selectman was left off the invitation list. Those without invitations were turned away.

    With its reputation as an unswerving ally of the establishment, SOS may be acquiring many silent detractors.

    The high school proposal last fall asked voters to take a big step and incur an average of hundreds of dollars per year in additional taxes for about 25 years.

    One tactic that might increase the odds of success at the polls would be to create a campaign group that seemed new and independent. In fact YES4WHS was not what it seemed to be.
    Attached Images Attached Images  
    Last edited by Kim Reichelt; 02-01-2010 at 11:50 PM. Reason: [Names deleted at request of those named], replaced with "SOS Co-chairs" or [name deleted]; one name restored by request

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
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    275

    Default Hmmmmm?

    Well, apparently people read this board but don't want to post. They do want to e-mail the adminstrator, though, and ask for their names to be deleted, even though they've already been published on WVN and are available to anyone in the world who wants to go to the Town Hall and request the YES4WHS campaign finance report and see who contributed. One can only speculate as to why these folks are so concerned about being connected to this story.

    Anyway, since I'm happy to abide by the administrator's request to remove the names on this forum, visit http://groups.yahoo.com/group/waylan...sage/401?var=1 as this provides the unredacted version of the WVN story I had quoted from here.

    Redacting sure is becoming popular in these parts

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
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    117

    Default

    Jeff B., thanks for posting this kind of stuff (even though I had to look up redaction), I would never have known about it otherwise (not redaction, silly). Of course, I’d see all the above as deception. Didn’t somebody in another thread comment that even the good guys in Wayland use deception? The same people, differing “fronts” as suits their purposes. Where’s their honesty about putting their beliefs forward and depending on the weight of their good arguments?

    I also don’t understand about taking the names off. Luckily I read the original post when the names were still there, and certainly don’t see what harm was done by having them there. In my efforts to try to understand what’s going on around town, it helps to connect real people with their beliefs, associations and actions.

    Kim, what was the rationale behind removing the names? Especially since this website purports to be about “news” ( “eNews” eh?). Were the names inaccurate or false? Weren’t they already part of the public record? Methinks, maybe, not done so good.

    donBustin@verizon.net

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
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    275

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by don Bustin View Post
    I also don’t understand about taking the names off. Luckily I read the original post when the names were still there, and certainly don’t see what harm was done by having them there. In my efforts to try to understand what’s going on around town, it helps to connect real people with their beliefs, associations and actions.

    Kim, what was the rationale behind removing the names? Especially since this website purports to be about “news” ( “eNews” eh?). Were the names inaccurate or false? Weren’t they already part of the public record? Methinks, maybe, not done so good.
    Don, there is no reasonable rationale. I'll give Kim the courtesy of a little while to answer your question herself. However, if by tomorrow she has decided not to do so, happy to log on again and fill everyone in.

    By the way, of course everyone knows the names of the people who asked to have thier names deleted. Not only are they publicly attached to the story via th WVN link posted above, but two of them discussed above are perfectly fine with listing their names here (http://soswayland.org/About%20Us.htm) as the first and fourth co-chairs, and here (http://yes4whs.com/WhoWeAre.htm) as the second and last member of the steering committee. These are, of course, both sites that they control the content of and show nothing unfavorable. I think this directly points you to why they might be concerned about having their names attached this story.

    By the way, the Yes4WHS treasurer is listed here (http://yes4whs.com/Donations.htm) as the person to send donations to. I have no particular beef with her, as she served as the legitimate treasurer of a BQC. Nothing wrong with that. Not even sure why she wanted her name deleted as she really didn't do anything wrong, except maybe unwittingly fail to post an in-kind donation which she has since corrected.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Posts
    726

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by don Bustin View Post
    Kim, what was the rationale behind removing the names? Especially since this website purports to be about “news” ( “eNews” eh?). Were the names inaccurate or false? Weren’t they already part of the public record? Methinks, maybe, not done so good.

    donBustin@verizon.net

    Don, I appreciate the question. Our policy has been that when an individual who is not participating in the Discussion Forum (other than people who occupy or are running for official Town, State or Federal positions) requests that their name be removed from a thread, that we will comply. In this case, I received a request from an individual (and not from all named individuals, so we need not speculate on one any particular name was removed) to remove the names in the thread. I forwarded that request to the editorial board for their opinion, as they serve as both legislative and judicial branches of this website (I would be the executive). They voted unanimously that given the request, the names should be removed.

    I agreed with their decision (not that it mattered), because:
    1. the names of these individuals were not material, the questions really were about the organization,
    2. the information is readily available elsewhere anyway (including in the link Mr. Baron subsequently provided),
    3. it was consistent with past precedent. An example thread where an individual requested that information be deleted (ironically, Jeff Baron) is available here. In both cases, the involved individuals sought to protect some aspect of their privacy in the event of Google searches. And while Mr. Baron may argue that he did not request that his name be removed, the redaction is just a matter of degree, and readers may want to draw the line in different places.


    Here, I cite my own personal opinion only as an individual, not as moderator of the site. The purpose of this Discussion Forum is not to enable people to attack or embarrass others. It is to enable discussion of issues to further people's understanding and for neighbors to be able to help one another.

    Further, I personally feel no obligation or requirement to reprint opinion pieces or articles that were published elsewhere in their entirety. Perhaps there are even copyright reasons why such "reprints" might not be allowable? I'll allow one of the several lawyer readers to weigh in on that.

    Readers were not denied access to information. We did not, for example, remove the WVN link, which contains the complete original. Anyone can go read that if they want. Or they can go check out the SOS website which contains all the information on names. The information is readily available. The request was to us for Google search privacy only, and we honored it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Baron View Post
    Don, there is no reasonable rationale. I'll give Kim the courtesy of a little while to answer your question herself. However, if by tomorrow she has decided not to do so, happy to log on again and fill everyone in.
    "if by tomorrow she has decided not to do so"? Gee, thanks for the several hours leeway there, Jeff. If I hadn't answered by tomorrow, it might not have been that I had "decided not to", but rather that I had my daughter's swim meet to attend, a birthday party to prepare for and attend (involving a couple of hours of cupcake making and decorating), and several hours of work for my actual job (I am a management consultant). Please don't forget that this website is a volunteer effort; I do this in my spare time only because I love the town and want to provide a service.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Posts
    275

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Kim Reichelt View Post
    [*] it was consistent with past precedent. An example thread where an individual requested that information be deleted (ironically, Jeff Baron) is available here. In both cases, the involved individuals sought to protect some aspect of their privacy in the event of Google searches. And while Mr. Baron may argue that he did not request that his name be removed, the redaction is just a matter of degree, and readers may want to draw the line in different places.
    Just to be clear, Kim stated exactly what I asked for. My home address and telephone number to be removed, not my name which is what identifies me. I think there's a big difference between what I asked for and asking for your name to be redacted. I also find it ironic the lengths to which you go to hide the idenitity of the person who requested the redaction, but you're ultra-quick to name me as "an individual" above instead of just leaving that anonymous too. Can anyone say double-standard? Can anyone see why these SOS folks felt so comfortable asking for the redaction here but never even consulted WVN for the same request, knowing it would never be considered? Friendly territory here!

    I will choose to not to argue back and forth on the merits of what happened cause that will go nowhere. This was ridiculous, plain and simple, in my opinion. It wasn't in yours. Since it is your board, you get to win. I still get to think it is wrong.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kim Reichelt View Post
    "if by tomorrow she has decided not to do so"? Gee, thanks for the several hours leeway there, Jeff. If I hadn't answered by tomorrow, it might not have been that I had "decided not to", but rather that I had my daughter's swim meet to attend, a birthday party to prepare for and attend (involving a couple of hours of cupcake making and decorating), and several hours of work for my actual job (I am a management consultant). Please don't forget that this website is a volunteer effort; I do this in my spare time only because I love the town and want to provide a service.
    Cool your jets, Kim. You're being far too literal. My point was to allow you the courtesy of responding for yourself, even though I knew the answer. I wasn't putting you on the clock. I do know, however, you monitor this board fairly frequently and I don't think a whole day was out of bounds in what I was trying to extend.
    Last edited by Jeff Baron; 01-30-2010 at 08:37 PM. Reason: Added some more thoughts...

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Posts
    448

    Default Protecting Their Own

    It is interesting to note that SOS, like Jeff Dieffenbach, has a friend in Wayland eNews.

    Nowhere was this more evident than when Jeff Dieffenbach posted something which was rather offensive and insulting to many people, and he was advised to remove. He asked Kim to delete it and sure enough, she did.

    Would the Crier do this?
    Would the Globe do this?
    Would WVN do this?
    Would any other news agency of any stripe do this?

    For as much as Wayland eNews claims to pride itself in being unbiased and fair & balanced, its actions remind me of Wayland’s School Committee and Administration who constantly throw about the word “transparency”, and claim that it applies to them and all that they do.

    I’ve been saying for years, that this is not at all the case and that in fact just the opposite it true, and now things are coming to light that prove my point – Louis’ email, Heather’s scathing review of Gary Burton, Jeff Dieffenbach's failed attempt to keep emails from the public, which by law we had every right to see and which cost the town thousands of dollars.

    I am not at all suprised that the Wayland eNews board voted to protect SOS, just as they've always protected Jeff Dieffenbach, by deleting what he wants them to delete, and by not giving much coverage to stories that would be damaging (albeit completely honest and true and newsworthy) to the School Committe, like some of the recent events referenced above.

    Like Jeff, like the SC, like the administration and like SOS, Wayland eNews prefers to hunker down and ignore these stories, wanting them to just whither away quickly and for people to take no notice. Too late for that.

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