Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Is the D&C Silencing Comments to Protect Its Own?

Today the D&C posted a story discussing people in Monroe County that owe NYS back taxes titled “Top tax delinquents include local names”

One alert reader commented that if the reporter wanted to interview another local tax scofflaw they didn’t need to do much more than walk down the hall. As the alert reader pointed out, Democrat and Chronicle Editorial Page Editor Jim Lawrence is listed as having a judgement against him in the amount of $1530.58 with the plaintiff listed as “Commissioner of Taxation and Finance” filed on 11/18/2011. This is all public information that can be found at:

Once this was brought to light the D&C quickly removed the comments pertaining to Jim Lawrence!

As many of you know I have had issues with the D&C removing individual comments and the ability to comment on certain stories even when people are not breaking their terms and conditions. I then posted a comment of my own which can be seen below. My comment was “So Jim Lawrence was called out for being a tax scofflaw in the comments and they have been removed. Either open up the dialogue or close it. This is garbage."

Within moments I received a direct message from Jim Lawrence via Facebook which can also be seen below. From Jim: “You continue to amaze me. First, my tax obligation has long been satisfied and the state's system simply hasn't gotten around to updating. (I have a letter attesting to that from the state) What disturbs me most is that you would participate in this kind of character assault on me and my family. I resent it!”

My response was simple “If you are clear then state so on the comments and don't delete the other ones. I said nothing other than you were called out and the comments disappeared. That makes you look more guilty than correcting the record.” I have received no response to that as of this post.

As can also be seen below, D&C Editor Karen Magnuson characterizes the comments about Jim as a "personal attack." Karen, where is the attack? If you have listed people the State indicates as owing money and Jim  owed the State money for the same reason, then either my comment is no attack on him, or you are attacking the other folks you're reporting about. Which is it?

This garbage with the D&C begging for the sunlight to shine in while demanding  the door be shut when the light shines into its own offices, revealing skeletons they'd rather conceal, is disgusting.  Is there no responsibility attached to being a “journalist”?

Lastly Jim, I hope we don’t hear any more rhetoric about people not paying their fair share.


phantomlord said...

Mr Lawrence phoned one of our users and asked how to contact the people behind because the information was also posted there.

I had an email exchange with Mr Lawrence, where he admitted that he was delinquent in his taxes in the past, that they had been paid and that the state database hadn't been updated to reflect as such.

Like you, he also accused our site of supporting personal attacks against him and his wife for having publicly exposed the information. I suggested that his paper had done essentially the same thing to the other people on the list and called him out on his hypocrisy. I also called him a hypocrite for having allowed a poster on his site to repeatedly harass and post private information about a couple of my friends (who are politically divergent from Mr Lawrence's views), all while claiming there was nothing they could do.

I notified him that he could either join to post a correction/clarification himself or I would do it for him and if he objected, I'd post whatever he wrote up as a correction.

I also suggested that, if he felt the state was irresponsible, he should use his position to advocate for better government rather than simply bigger government.


Anonymous said...

So let's recap the D&C policy:

Publishing detailed info on the state tax warrants for six private businesspersons is "good investigative reporting".

Posting information about an outstanding state tax warrant for a D&C Editor is a vicious "personal attack".

Got it?

Warrior said...

So the reader's comment pointing out Mr. Lawrence's outstanding tax warrant is a violation of the D&C's TOS? Given that the D&C's article was based on information from the NYS Tax Dept. website (the link was conveniently provided in the article) and that very same website also provided information on Mr. Lawrence's warrant (, it would seem that the D&C itself is violating its own policies.

Plus, Mr. Lawrence has been accusing people of personally attacking him and his family. So must we also conclude that the D&C is OK with personally attacking the top 250 tax scofflaws as well?

Karen Magnuson, D&C Editor and Vice President of News, saw fit to point out to readers in the comment section that the commenters are stating false information about Mr. Lawrence. Since they know the very same source for the article is not credible, wouldn’t the proper response of the D&C be to pull the article. Or even better, shouldn’t they have attacked the NYS Tax Dept. for publishing information that not only “personally attacks” people & their families but also that their information cannot be trusted?

And wouldn’t it be nice if Mr. Lawrence also gave a nod to those whose decry the tyranny of big gov’t? More instances like this and perhaps Mr. Lawrence would finally be ”mugged by reality” and stop wanting the gov’t to attempt to fix all of our problems. And he may also find out that he wouldn’t have as much difficulty paying his taxes since they should be lower as a result.

rochester_veteran said...

Rich, this is where the story broke:

D&C Publishes List of Local Tax Delinquents

Anonymous said...

Jim Lawrence has placed himself in the public realm which makes him fair game just like our politicians, union leaders, military, Department directors, etc.

Karen Magnusan's participation in this cover-up is sickening. "Personal attack?" There are malicious comments made about people in their stories every single day and they do nothing about it.

Apparently, they only spend time searching for and removing comments they deem negative in a very selective manner... when it pertains to their own high-ranking news people. I bet they wouldn't go this far to protect one of their lower level reporters.

The D&C bosses have now deleted all comments on this story and have buried it on their soon-to-be very expensive website. It's an insult to the reporter who wrote this piece even though she doesn't mention Jim Lawrence and his prior tax-dodging.

Who watches the watchers?

Anonymous said...

There's an even bigger problem here. In the comments (before they were summarily deleted) Karen M. states that "the accusations against Jim Lawrence are false" and says that the entire thread will be pulled because it is a personal attack.

But then Jim (unbeknownst to Karen) responds to Mr. Tyson admitting that he did indeed cheat the state out of taxes.

We now have a confirmed lie coming from high ranking officials at the Democrat & Chronicle.

If this were the City or County governments, it would be labelled a scandal and there would be demands for inquiries and calls for firings.

What pray tell will happen at the D&C with this, their very own little scandal?

Anonymous said...

Jim, your hypocrisy is dizzying. Karen, your cowardice is shocking.

Both of you should ask yourselves – have you ever instructed staff to remove comments of a personal nature when they have been directed at an elected official (Read: Monroe County Republican) or his or her family? Oh sure, you had the integrity to take down any overt threats, no doubt. But you had no qualms about leaving spurious and unfounded allegations against local leaders (Read: Republicans) on the D&C’s comment boards for all to see.

But wait, don’t stop there! Why play in the Bush-League comment boards, when you can use your own pages to attack local politicians (Yes, Republicans) and their families instead!? Using loaded headlines like, “County exec's husband poised to return to Water Authority,” no less. (I would link to the original story, but your organization is either so cheap or so tech-impaired that you have made it practically impossible for readers to actually locate and consume content created in the past.)

“Oh, but that’s different,” wails Jim, “I’m in Editorial, not News.” “And I’m not an elected official,” cries Karen. It doesn’t matter. You both have self-righteously appointed yourselves as “voices of the community.” That makes you public figures. That renders you open to criticism. That means that you must stand there and take it when some enterprising internet sleuth subjects you and your family to the same sort of garbage you’ve printed in your sanctimonious “space” for years. Grow up. Grow a thicker skin. And, pardon the “course” language, grow a set.

In Jim’s own words, “Politicians, who like to talk about honesty and credibility, have no qualms about being disingenuous.” Something about stones and glass houses comes to mind. Or is it something about pots and kettles? Never mind, I’ll conclude with this: This community looks forward to the day your absurd internet paywall strangles the last life out of a failing institution that has been a pox on local public discourse for decades. Then, we will all be able to celebrate an end to “Our Course Culture.”

Jax said...

"What disturbs me most is that you would participate in this kind of character assault on me and my family. I resent it!"

Ha ha ha! Then, I guess he shouldn't have been one of the ones delinquent on his taxes in the first place. He assaulted his own character. He says he paid it up - but - what about the other people/businesses on the list...maybe they satisfied their debt too?

Hilarious. Nice catch.

Anonymous said...

It was not a personal attack at all. IF it was than Ronnie Davis, who likely employed more people than the paper over the last few years in this area, has clearly been personally attacked by the Paper.

And I would like to see the write up of the endorsement of Mr. Tyson opponent for last Novembers election. If we want to see a personal attack by the paper on someone .. as I recall, we will find a good one (or an uncalled for personal attack) on Mr Tyson there.

Anonymous said...

Hey what in tar-nations is going here? Karen says the claim is false but Jimmy admits it!

Who's lying here and why? Smells like a cover up over at our infamous paper folks.

Kevin said...

"This community looks forward to the day your absurd internet paywall strangles the last life out of a failing institution that has been a pox on local public discourse for decades."

I love this sentence! I am honestly starting to think that more people go to the D&C website every day just to see what kind of idiots they're going to make themselves look like now than anyone expecting any real news reporting. I would hate to see another local business go under but if it was the D&C? Not so much.

Anonymous said...

None of this should be a surprise to anyone who reads the D&C for any period of time.
It's not as if they haven't bent over backwards to play favorites before.

Benny Bell Jr. said...

My humble approach to the paywall issue:
Upstate Digital Post @

Anonymous said...

The Democrat & Chronicle bosses and the Editorial boss are basically telling the public that they will go to great lengths to cover up the screw ups of their highest ranking officials and that they do not support freedom of speech when it comes to shining the light of transparency on their own operation.


Anonymous said...

The D&C is actively shutting down all stories, blogs and comments they disagree with. They deleted a blog post from one of their own contributors because it discussed Louise Slaughter's injury, age and health even though tv media covered the exact same topic.

Now you have Karen Magnuson deleting comments and burying a news story simply because the head of the paper's Editorial Board (James Lawrence) was found to have not paid his taxes.

The D&C has absolutely no credibility at all in this community.

Anonymous said...

Here's one for you right from Mr. Kane:

To answer your question, we’re running an honest newspaper and media company.

We print accurate information, or we correct it immediately. Online posts that are dead wrong or malicious are called out.

That’s how we work.

Michael Kane

Anonymous said...

Sorry this is off topic but the Democrat & Chronicle's whole process of forcing us to pay, and pay a lot more, for their internet and print paper really stinks!

First, why didn't the paper give the people an opportunity for public input by setting up meetings for the public to address the bosses. That's what they demand everyone else do whenever some big topic comes up in this community. But they believe we don't deserve to expect the same from them?

Second, My bill doubled! and when I called to complain (and to cancel) I was eventually given a reduced price (after some very aggressive pressure not to cancel) for six months that I was told was the absolute lowest they could go. so I said ok as something was better than nothing.

Clearly they didn't want to show corporate all the cancellations their "enhanced business model" caused.

I tell my neighbor about this and they tell me they were offered an even lower price if they promised to stay, getting the exact same paper delivery with the online junk!

So I called back and asked for the deal my neighbor got and I was told no. I asked to speak to a supervisor and after waiting 10 minutes on hold, the same person got on and basically said that I couldn't and that I please not be upset with her for being treated this way but that they would not give me the same deal as my neighbor.

I let her know that it wasn't her fault and that it was too bad the people making the big bucks didn't have the courage to talk to customers themselves.

I then cancelled my subscription and told the person I was talking too that she was doing her job just fine despite her boss not giving her any help.

Pretty sad that this is what this once great company has become. They are the exact same corporate bums who only care about money that they make other business owners out to be.

They treat us with contempt, lie to us, cover up their own indiscretions and cast stones upon all others from their ivory towers.

I can care less about their brand of news. I can get better and more fair coverage elsewhere for free. I guess I only stuck with them out of some insane sense of loyalty to a local company.

It's like the fixed line telephone you have in your home even though you own a cellular phone. It's hard to let the former go but when you finally cut that cord, you realize it's probably the best thing you could have done and you find yourself wondering what took you so long.

Cut the cord people. It's very invigorating!!!

Thanks for letting me gripe since the D&C refuses to give me that same opportunity.

Anonymous said...

Who wants to pay for old news? Example in today's paper there was an article on Dewey Avenue getting a new Big Lots. That story is days old and the D & C is just reporting it??? And it's being reported by the famed Meghan McDermott the Watch Dog reporter.