In a strongly-worded blog post published yesterday, Dan Atkinson (Editor of the Somerville Journal), calls out the Curtatone Administration for recommending the appointment of Donald Norton to the Zoning Board of Appeals. Norton is the publisher of the Somerville News - a media source known to refer to the Somerville Journal as the “farm team.”
Noting Norton’s profession as a Real Estate Agent being a “conflict of interest,” Dan writes, “If he’s approved by the aldermen and stays publisher of the News, Donald Norton would be overseeing public meetings that he is getting paid to advertise, and draw a paycheck from the city officials that his newspaper covers. That sure seems sketchy to me from a newsman point of view. And looking at it from the other side, it makes me wonder why the mayor would appoint someone with such an obvious conflict of interest to oversee a board that handles thousands if not millions of dollars in local development every year.”
Atkinson also links to a past article in which Ward 6 Alderwoman Rebekah Gewirtz is referred to as “Princess Rebekah.” The News has long been an outspoken opponent of the Progressive Democrats of Somerville, historically referring to Representative Carl Sciortino as “Prince Carl” and Senator Pat Jehlen as “Queen Pat” in their popular News Talk section. This section has eased up in recent years, although it does feature an occasional jab at the PDSers.
This blog post is reminiscent of the Kat Powers days of edgy writing and I’m pretty friggin’ happy to see it return to the Somerville media scene. It’s clear that Dan is also channeling his inner Meghan Ackerman by pulling Board Orders and Mayor’s Requests out of the BOA agenda and making them headline blog posts.
The Somerville Journal also pointed out an Executive Session request by the Mayor to discuss billboards in Somerville. This Executive Session would, eventually, get dropped from the BOA agenda after a few tries.
Being an entity on the media scene, I’m interested to see how this challenge plays out and what type of response the Somerville News issues, if any, to Atkinson’s post. What about you? Comment your thoughts below.
Update: Donald Norton has refused the appointment, according to a Boston.Com article, and the legislative item was placed on file at last night's meeting by Alderman at Large Bruce Desmond.