Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Corporate Press In Maine Won't Publish Op-Eds By Leaders Opposing Tax Giveaway For General Dynamics

I've now sent two op-eds (to the Kennebec Journal and the Bangor Daily News in January) and a letter to the editor (to the Morning Sentinel, in February) about objections to the corporate tax giveway proposed for General Dynamics/BIW as LD1781. None have been published despite phone calls from the admins who are in charge of verifying authorship. 

Might Maine's corporate press be afraid to anger General Dynamics? 

The Times Record, which runs a monthly column from Peaceworks of Greater Brunswick, just rejected Bruce Gagnon's op-ed about his hunger strike against the bill. He included things BIW workers have told him as he handed out leaflets outside the gates of the shipyard. Needless to say, no reporters from the corporate press (including "public" radio or tv) have showed up to cover this story. $60 million for an already obscenely wealthy corporation to come directly from Maine taxpayers is not a story worth covering, right? Meanwhile they run the op-eds of the bill's sponsors and retired BIW executives. 

Here I let off steam by composing a response in the form of an open letter to the Times Record editor who rejected Gagnon's piece.

Dear Mr. Swinconeck,
I was disappointed by your objections to the op-ed you rejected from Bruce Gagnon. As a citizen journalist who works to bring real information unfiltered by corporate allegiance, I frankly thought your objections were weak.

1) Bruce quotes workers who are afraid to use their names. You call it hearsay when a reporter quotes an unnamed source? Give me a break.

2)  The 43,000 kids in poverty (and 20,000 in "deep" poverty) is based on U.S. Census data as reported by Maine Equal Justice Partners in this brief: http://www.mejp.org/sites/default/files/Poverty-in-Maine-Lack-of-Progress-and-New-Threats-Ahead.pdf

As an editor in Maine, shouldn't you be well aware of this statistic?

3) Bruce has been attending all the work sessions for LD1781 in order to hear the veiled theats delivered by BIW vice president John Fitzgerald. Has the Times Record sent anyone to these hearings? If not, you might read the op-eds by BIW past president or Rep. Jennifer DeChant, the bill's sponsor, to source this threat.

4) You wrote: "If Bruce hasn't eaten since he went on hunger strike two weeks ago, how is he still able to demonstrate outside BIW?" It's clear you don't know much about hunger strikes. Perhaps do some reading on Palestinian political prisoners or California prison inmates to learn more about what the human spirit and body are capable of?

I would like to make one last suggestion. Send a reporter down to the gates of BIW to report on Bruce's hunger strike and on his conversations with BIW workers (including, on one occasion recently, John Fitzgerald himself, who yelled at him). Or maybe you are afraid to do this because Fitzgerald might yell at you?
Lisa Savage

Below in red you can see Gagnon's responses and, in purple, Swinconeck's original email to Rosalie Paul, who coordinates the Peaceworks monthly submissions:

From: John Swinconeck <jswinconeck@timesrecord.com>
Subject: Re: PeaceWorks commentary for Wed. 2-28-18
Date: February 26, 2018 at 12:48:59 PM EST
To: Rosalie Paul <gaia@gwi.net>

Hi Rosalie,
Got a few issues that need to be addressed before we publish this:
 There's no attribution to the workers he cites, and I'm afraid we're going into hearsay territory with this;

I certainly did not ask them for their names.  Why would I make this up?

 I'd like some attribution to "43,000 kids living in poverty in Maine" — where did that number come from?

“Without those investments, it is highly unlikely BIW could continue as a viable shipbuilding operation today.”   https://www.pressherald.com/2018/02/20/former-biw-ceo-tax-credit-would-keep-biw-afloat-and-states-economic-engine-humming/            

 If Bruce hasn't eaten since he went on hunger strike two weeks ago, how is he still able to demonstrate outside BIW?

With determination and shaky body parts....why question my integrity about this?

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