Censorship of political dissent in Groveland
By: Joe D’Amore – May, 2012
Here is my response to questions raised by a reporter of a local newspaper.
Groveland’s Candidate’s Night is the only event that offers an opportunity for citizens to view candidates and discuss issues for upcoming elections. The event occurred on April 12th at Town Hall and was not aired live. This was a stunning development since the Town’s website had promoted the event. Hundreds of Groveland residents tuned into a blank screen.
I contacted Selectmen Greaney and Darke the very next day.
Selectman Darke in his email response indicated that the Board of Selectman were aware of technical difficulties for at least two weeks.
I requested that a message be posted on Public Access TV to explain to citizens that there were ongoing technical difficulties as otherwise no communication was offered by Town government. This was ignored. I requested that when intermittent airings were made, which finally began April 15th, that a schedule be posted. This was ignored too and did not occur regularly until April 24th.
After much discussion with Tracy Gilford, who is a volunteer and is not directly responsible for intervening here and through apparently his own initiative, the tapes began to play regularly on April 24th. The Board of Selectman recently hired a technician who apparently was not capable of operating new equipment properly, Mr. Gilford with the help of the technician finally initiated steps to allow for consistent viewing supported by a schedule of upcoming airings. Too many citizens in Groveland and to me, Mr. Gilford is one of those quiet heroes in our community.
The Board of Selectmen interviewed Kenneth Martin, the head of Groveland’s Cable TV Advisory Board, 11 days after the event at the April 23rd Board of Selectmen’s meeting. The issue was officially entered into the minutes as an agenda item.
Selectman Gorski was not present at this meeting.
Why did this become an issue after citizens raised objections to the Black Out? Why did the Board of Selectman with advance knowledge of technical issues, decide not to address this knowing full well that the event was important to the citizens of Groveland in light of the fact it was promoted on the Town’s website?
Did they expect that all 3,000 voters would be able to fit neatly into Town Hall to experience it live?
Selectman Darke has openly campaigned for Selectman Gorski. Therefore, I am raising the question as to whether either through misguided intention or simply mismanagement have violated election campaigning laws.
They certainly should be held accountable for their disservice to the public in infringing on the public’s right to be informed of this important political event. Unfortunately, sensitivity on this issue is heightened since there was a similar controversy of political censorship reported by the Eagle Tribune in 2009 with a radio commentator Jack Bevelequa.
I believe that there is the potential for an elected public official to have exercised control over government functions for political advantage in Groveland.
How does the Board of Selectmen in Groveland respond to the citizens on this matter?