Letters to the editor

Questions for the publisher
Fri, 04/08/2016 - 10:45am
Category: 

To the Editor:

For the record, I agree it would be a disservice to the community not to include events at the Island Free Library in The Block Island Times.

That said, why is the onus on the community (March 12 letters taking Library Director Kristin Baumann to task for giving voice to concerns about the new ownership of The Block Island Times) to give publisher Michael Schroeder “a chance” when in three months he has not deigned to provide a printed interview or conversation addressing the questions regarding his actions on behalf of business associate, Las Vegas mogul Sheldon Adelson — concerns he has to know are still circulating in the community. 

The publisher is the one who has at his disposal the forum to address these questions that are not dying. The paper chose not to meet this head-on upon Mr. Schroeder's arrival, but it is not too late; Block Island provides second chances with every season and spring is coming.  

Our broadband may be limited but we are not disconnected from the world. The day the news broke that Mr. Schroeder was buying the paper, “What is going on there?!” emails and messages poured in from across the nation from people looking to be reassured (I had to remind them I am not part of the staff and had no more information than they). Following multiple links to reputable news sources, I read a major story, a convoluted tale of over-reaching wealth and power, from Nevada to Connecticut, one in which Block Island was a mere footnote. The next day I realized the sale had became a topic of discussion among serious people, dedicated members of this community. Many were concerned about the Schroeder-Adelson connection and, particularly, gambling.

I was astonished. I grew up on Block Island, to me that threat went out with the Red Scare. That The Block Island Times new owner's business relationship with a major player in Las Vegas translated to casinos on Block Island seemed a far stretch.

Then, public reaction to what I considered a measured, realistic editorial regarding change underscored the community’s unease. It prompted me to unearth my this-local-paper-needs-local-support draft letter, this time with a “gambling is not coming” caveat. Then I realized I had never been told that, was not in a position to make such a statement. I put my draft aside, again.

The Block Island Times, “our” weekly newspaper since 1988, is a bit like the town: many consider it a public trust. So, instead of pretty words about continued partnership and community spirit, let's hear — for a start — “no gambling.” Instead of broad brushes, let's see solid words that will begin to put minds to rest. 

Help us all move forward without this cloud of uncertainty which does nothing but foster division and serves no one, neither the paper nor the community, well.

Martha Ball

Mansion Road

To the Editor:

I have often wondered, these past three months, at the silence of Mr. Michael Schroeder, the new owner of The Block Island Times. Nowhere in the paper have I seen a printed interview or conversation with Mr. Schroeder, or learned of any opportunity for a public forum with him, regarding his actions on behalf of business associate Sheldon Adelson. Questions concerning Mr. Schroeder’s journalistic motivation and ethics continue to circulate in this community, to wit: 

Why did Mr. Schroeder offer a reporter $5,000 to write a piece for the New Britain Herald about Nevada judicial decisions? (The reporter, a veteran reporter who had recently retired, refused the offer, subsequently commenting that he couldn’t understand the relevance of such an article to Connecticut and the Herald.)

Why did Mr. Schroeder then run an article about Nevada judicial decisions (focusing on a case involving Sheldon Adelson) in Schroeder’s two papers, the New Britain Herald and The Bristol Press? Why were sections of the article plagiarized from other publications? (Source: http://wapo.st/1J9K1cq, http://cour.at/1YCujbz, http://bit.ly/1oBTCPm.

Why was the article attributed to a nonexistent person, one Edward Clarkin? (http://bit.ly/1ZtqQOO; http://bit.ly/1QymzIg)

Why were some of the sources quoted in the article never actually interviewed by anyone at either of the two Connecticut newspapers? (http://huff.to/1V9fZtM)

Why did the article contain harsh criticisms of rulings by Nevada State Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez — who was presiding over a wrongful termination lawsuit brought against Mr. Schroeder’s business associate, Sheldon Adelson, by the former senior executive at Adelson’s lucrative gambling franchise in Macau? (http://huff.to/1V9fZtM; http://bit.ly/1qu9p4l)

Why did Mr. Schroeder, during three telephone interviews with The Huffington Post, “Decline to answer well over a dozen queries, including questions about the genesis of the story and whether he knew Edward Clarkin. Asked if he valued openness and transparency in the media, he [Schroeder] replied, “Absolutely.” (http://huff.to/1V9fZtM)

What is Mr. Schroeder’s motivation in buying three small New England newspapers, including The Block Island Times? 

Fran Migliaccio

Sands Pond Road

To The Editor: 

I’m concerned that the attention given to the decision our dedicated library director made to stop promoting library events in The Block Island Times is focusing on the wrong issue. Beyond the question of whether or not this choice was warranted, more importantly, a discussion needs to be had about why Kristin Baumann made this decision.  

A few weeks before the sale of The Block Island Times was announced in early January 2016, Michael Schroeder, The Block Island Times new owner, who also owns two small papers in Connecticut, committed an act of journalistic misconduct that indirectly involved Las Vegas casino mogul and political mega donor Sheldon Adelson. Mr. Schroeder fabricated an article about the Business Court system that in part criticized a Nevada judge who is overseeing a case against Mr. Schroeder's business associate in Las Vegas, Sheldon Adelson. (Schroeder was enlisted by the Adelson family to act as the executive manager of a newly formed shell company whose sole purpose was to hide that the Adelsons had purchased Nevada’s largest newspaper in December 2015.)

Of the many states with business courts and judges that preside over them, this article talked at length about only one judge, the Nevada judge presiding over a contentious and protracted court case against Sheldon Adelson. Under the circumstances, this doesn’t seem like it could be a coincidence.  

The article included plagiarized material, and quotes from experts who later said they were never interviewed for the story. Mr. Schroeder shoveled the article into both of his Connecticut papers and claimed it was written by Edward Clarkin, Mr. Schroeder's middle name is Edward and his mother's maiden name is Clarkin. I would imagine a reporter with such a lack of journalistic ethics at any other newspaper would have been fired for this. A 20-year veteran reporter at Mr. Schroeder’s Bristol Press paper resigned shortly after this debacle was made public, citing this erroneous article as the reason why. 

In a Jan. 12  “Publisher’s Note” Mr. Schroeder wrote in The Block Island Times introducing himself to the community, he made claims of being independent and trustworthy. In part, he said, “We’re an independent company, and the buck stops at my door. There’s no connection to anyone or any thing. Our only commitment is to the communities we serve. This transition has been months in the making. Our promise to you is to provide truthful, objective reporting and quality editing.” It’s extremely hard for me to believe anything from this quote based on Mr. Schroeder’s actions at his two other newspapers only a month before he took ownership of The Block Island Times. I wrote a short letter to the editor in the Jan. 30 Block Island Times alluding to this matter. Before, and since that letter, there has been no mention in The Block Island Times about this matter, nor any comments from Mr. Schroeder addressing it. It’s my understanding that at the Library Board of Trustees meeting addressing the issue of promoting library events through The Times that some of the above facts were brought up, but were left out of the articles published in the paper. 

The information above came from the following news sources:

http://nyti.ms/1RWESW8

http://wapo.st/1N75oaY

http://cour.at/1RWFHOx

http://bit.ly/1S02dcu

http://bit.ly/22aa5I0

http://bit.ly/1S8IOQo

http://huff.to/238TpWW

http://bit.ly/1UGzyK0

Gary Pollard

The Empire Theatre 

To the Editor:

A few weeks ago, I read an article in Mother Jones magazine, dated March/April 2016. The cover of the magazine caught my eye, particularly the headline referring to Sheldon Adleson. I had heard stories about Mr. Michael Schroeder, publisher of The Block Island Times, and his relationship with Mr. Adelson. The details were confusing and so I chose to learn about the story for myself.

Needless to say, I was astonished by what I read and even more amazed at the apparent character and unethical conduct of our new publisher. I decided to go to the newspaper immediately to attempt to have a conversation with Mr. Schroeder in person. He was in his office and I presented him with a copy of the Mother Jones article. He was not interested in the article and brushed it off as old news. I persisted and requested that Mr. Schroeder explain to us forthrightly and honestly about his involvement with Mr. Adelson and the convoluted course that it took. He suggested that this had been explained and there was no more to say. I therefore mentioned my intention to write a letter to the editor if he would not "come clean," and he stressed that letters would be run at his discretion. It seemed to me that this was an infringement on my First Amendment rights, something which I am most concerned about.

I am submitting this letter but don't expect that it will appear. We must take our paper back!

Naomi Kerest

Corn Neck Road

Cuban Missile Crisis redux

To the Editor:

In the March 26 issue of The Block Island Times, there appeared a letter to the editor signed by my friend and former American Airlines colleague Willis Brown that contained several erroneous claims that need addressing.

The letter had to do with the Cuban Missile Crisis and, as I read it, seeks to have us believe that the United States allowed itself to be duped by the USSR, under Russian Premier Nikita Khrushchev into believing that the medium-range (SS-4) and intermediate-range (R-14) missiles, which had been smuggled into Cuba during September of 1962 were in fact bogus, their silos constructed of “steel beams and bags of cement.” All the verified evidence at hand today refutes this. In addition to these very real nuclear weapons, the Soviets also had at the ready hundreds of short-range tactical battlefield weapons with nuclear warheads, a fact only revealed decades later.

After two weeks of extremely tense negotiations, during which time one of our U-2 aircraft was shot down and the US Navy depth-charged a Russian submarine, the Crisis was resolved through diplomacy and the world stepped back from the abyss.

The US agreed to remove its Jupiter missiles, aimed at the Soviet Union but considered obsolete, from Turkey and Italy (not Greece) and the Russians dismantled and shipped out their missiles from Cuba. I, for one, was very glad that President Kennedy listened to the right advice and followed the better angels of his nature.

I was on the flight deck of the USS Boxer, sitting in the cockpit of my H-34, engine running but rotor not yet engaged, with 12 Marines in full combat gear aboard. We had been briefed at 3:30 a.m. and had our charts with the landing zones redlined, attached to the clipboards on our knees. It was 20 minutes before dawn, Oct. 27, 1962, when the order to stand down was given.

Ray Torrey

Payne Road