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Letter to the Editor: Transparency

The views stated here are those of the individual contributor and do not necessarily reflect those of the staff of HaddamNow.com.

While I disagree with the premise that transparency has left Town Hall, I commend the Democratic slate for its pledge to bring transparency and “sunshine” to Town Hall. Such a pledge ought be an apolitical one.

I am curious, however, if such transparency and “sunshine” will be consistently applied. For example, it would behoove Democratic candidate for Selectman, Melissa Schlag, to step down from her post as Haddam Bulletin’s Layout Editor come December. Holding political office while participating in a publication that covers such an office and its happenings is a striking conflict of interest between journalistic integrity and public service.

After all, how can the “watchdog of government” (as the media has been traditionally called) monitor government when it is itself a part of that government? Where is the transparency in that?

Dave Peterson, Haddam

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7 Responses to Letter to the Editor: Transparency

  1. Edward Munster

    October 10, 2017 at 3:03 pm

    The Haddam Bulletin was organized as a publication of the Haddam Civic Association. The by-laws of the association in Article V, Sec. 2 states “No elected SALARIED official of the Town of Haddam shall be on the Board of Directors”.

    Ed Schwing took over the Haddam Bulletin in April 2008 and in November 2013, the month she was elected First Selectman of Haddam, Melissa Schlag was appointed Treasurer. First Selectman Schlag served as a Director and Officer during her term in office and since. Either Schlag and Schwing have never read the by-laws or they have chosen to ignore them.

    The question of conflict of interest and media bias should be front and center whenever anyone reads the Haddam Bulletin.

  2. Steve Bayley

    October 10, 2017 at 4:17 pm

    Note: Republican Kathy Brown has been a Senior Editor for HaddamNow (a publication that covers the Region 17 school system) since its inception and currently serves on the Board of Education. Also, Republican Craig Salonia, who currently is the Advertising Manager for Haddam Now, is running for Board of Assessment Appeal.

    Personally, I do not think it is an issue. Kathy is a valuable contributor to Haddam Now and Melissa is a valuable contributor to the Haddam Bulletin. I am also sure Craig works hard to get advertisers for Haddam Now.

    Haddam Now provides good information, the Haddam Bulletin as well. Lets focus on the issues facing Haddam and work together to find solutions.

  3. Craig Salonia

    October 12, 2017 at 7:29 pm

    Sorry Mr Bailey but it isn’t the same. At this point I have not been elected to anything. If I am elected I will need to reevaluate my position. Also unlike Ms. Schlag’s previous position I don’t believe I will be getting a salary.

    • Steve Bayley

      October 13, 2017 at 8:03 am

      Mr. Sulonia, Melissa has also not been elected to anything either. Your article states nothing about a salary, that was mentioned in a comment by Ed Munter. Based on your letter, it is the same exact thing. Stop the games and let’s focus on the real issues facing Haddam.

  4. Sharon Challenger

    October 26, 2017 at 11:27 am

    My concern about the Haddam Bulletin is the way it has been used as a political tool to put specific people into office. Articles are highly slanted by the members involved, which prevents the townspeople from getting an objective viewpoint. Dates of publication have also been manipulated to help sway elections and I find this greatly disturbing and unethical. I believe the Haddam Now was a direct response to a request from the citizens of Haddam to have access to another viewpoint on what is going on in the community. It is said that whenever there is a vacuum, something will come along to fill the void. So if anyone wonders why we have Haddam Now, I believe this is the answer. All media should let the readers make up their own minds, and give us credit for knowing when we are being misled.

  5. Craig Salonia

    October 26, 2017 at 3:51 pm

    Mr. Bailey let me expand on my comments. First, I did not write the original letter and didn’t intend to be part of this letter chain until you brought me in as part of an equivalency argument. If I am understanding Mr. Peterson correctly he is concerned that it would be inappropriate for Ms. Schlag to simultaneously serve as Selectman and produce a publication that would be reporting on how things are progressing in town and her involvement in that progress.
    Next, Mr. Munster weighed in to say: but wait, this type of thing has happened before. When she was First Selectman Ms. Schlag held these dual roles and Mr. Munster questioned this as being at odds with the bylaws of the governing organization of the Bulletin. That is where both salary and her actual position with the Bulletin came in. Salaried or not, as First Selectman, while helping to shape the direction of the town, she was also intimately involved in producing a town wide publication reporting on that direction.
    You are correct at this moment she has not actually been elected and past behavior may not be an indicator of future behavior. But, if I am understanding the dynamics of this particular election cycle, she WILL eventually be seated as a selectman and have an opportunity to make this decision again.
    Finally when I said “I hadn’t been elected”, I meant that since joining Haddam Now I have not held any elected position and therefore have not had any possible conflicts. Ms. Schlag, as First Selectman didn’t seem to see any conflict.
    If holding elected office while at the same time being an integral part of producing a publication that comments on that situation isn’t a conflict of interest, then we are having a discussion about nothing. But given the positions she has held and will hold in town politics and her past and present positions with the Bulletin, it should raise questions.
    Finally, I am sure I am going to hear something like: “her name never appeared on any articles on what direction the town should take or how good a job our elected officials are doing.” Then just assure us that she had no input into nor did any editing of articles. Even so, I still don’t think you can make it look like this isn’t a conflict.

  6. Steve Bayley

    October 26, 2017 at 7:35 pm

    Mr. Sulonia,
    I apologize for mistakenly stating you wrote the letter, that comment was directed at the author of the letter not yourself. My mistake.

    I stand by my statement that I think this type of letter is just a silly political game and distracts from the real issues facing Haddam.

    At any rate, if Melissa or anyone else is violating the Haddam Civic Association by laws, that is an issue.

    As for elected people assisting with the various publications in town, I do not see it as an issue as long as by laws and rules are followed.