More Mockery of Virginia….

This from Jay Leno:

The state of Virginia has now passed a law that calls for a $50 fine for anyone who displays their underwear in a lewd or indecent manner. They’re calling this new law “Just say no to crack”.

Imagine that you can’t show your underwear in Virginia. Let me tell you something – the plumbers union is really going to fight this one! They have their lobbyists in Washington right now.

This from Ferguson (whoever he is):

In Virginia lawmakers are considering a law banning people from wearing pants that reveal their underwear in a lude way. Of course you could get by this law by just not wearing any underwear.


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  1. From: Scott
    To: lseals@timesdispatch.com, TSilvestri@timesdispatch.com, BMillsaps@timesdispatch.com, CCronin@timesdispatch.com, jschapiro@timesdispatch.com, mhardy@timesdispatch.com
    Date: Fri Feb 11, 2005 08:47:40 AM EST
    Subject: RE: TD’s role with art center project

    Its pretty clear that the Times Dispatch has no interest in adhereing to any journalistic standards of disclosure in regard to this issue.

    The latest article/propaganda:

    http://www.timesdispatch.com/servlet/Satellitepagename=RTD2FMGArticle2FRTD_BasicArticle&c=MGArticle&cid=1031780763922&path=%21news&s=1045855934842

    As a citizen of the City of Richmond, I am disgusted and disappointed.
    I will be doing my best to inform other citizens of this.

    There is a good reason why your paper is known as the Times Disgrace.

    Sincerely,
    Scott

    On Monday, January 31, 2005, at 02:03PM, Scott <> wrote:

    >http://home.hamptonroads.com/stories/story.cfm?story=81261&ran=4927
    >
    >Do you know if the T-D, or for that matter, any local Richmond media has covered ANY of this VAPAF General Assembly stuff – the controversy over the arts funding, Chichester’s quote about pungent odors, etc.?
    >
    >I sure haven’t seen anything. But it’s kind of odd, don’t you think? (Or not so odd).
    >
    >Thanks,
    >Scott
    >
    >On Tuesday, January 18, 2005, at 11:30AM, Scott <> wrote:
    >
    >>Gentlemen and Ms. Seals,
    >>
    >>You should cite specific articles (when the pieces ran, etc.) in the future and not refer simply to “previous articles.” The Seals column totally obscures the main points that critics like myself are making about the Times-Dispatch’s policy on these VAPAF disclosure questions. Your disingenuous answer illustrates fully the T-D’s credibility gap on this issue.
    >>
    >>http://www.timesdispatch.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=RTD%2FMGArticle%2FRTD_BasicArticle&c=MGArticle&cid=1031780276888&path=%21editorials%21oped&s=1045855935007
    >>
    >>Jeremy Redmon may have mentioned Bryan’s position as a VAPAF board member in a previous article, maybe two, way back in the summer of 2003. But I can’t find a single bit of similar disclosure in the paper until the Save Richmond article. To my knowledge the paper HAS NEVER mentioned that Bryan was the head of the foundation’s major gifts foundation until the Save Richmond article. I apologize in advance if I am in error but I would like you to point out any specific article with any previous disclosure about Bryan’s major role as the major fundraiser because I simply have not seen it. Member of the board – yes. Major gifts fundraiser? No.
    >>
    >>Your latest answer obscures the fact (and doesn’t acknowledge) that the Times-Dispatch was not the area news source to break the story of the newspaper’s $1 million gift to the VAPAF project. That was the Chesterfield Observer, one month earlier. This “gift” was never reported previously in the T-D to my knowledge before Will Jones’ article on Save Richmond, and the latest blurring explanation of disclosure in the Seals column seems to conveniently ignore this aspect entirely.
    >>
    >>This gets to the heart of why I wrote to you in the first place: The VAPAF project is failing in its fundraising and has released several different stories about its finances in just the last few months… a fact the Times-Dispatch seems unwilling or unable to report on, even while other area news sources have covered the situation in some depth. When a newspaper is unwilling to ask the same critical questions that others are asking, and the paper is engaged in several different relationships at once with the subject at hand, then credibility has more than been questioned.
    >>And considering the potshots that the T-D takes at other papers on a daily basis for just these kinds of ethical potholes, the standards should be quite high.
    >>
    >>Being specific is the kind of thing that the ombudspeople at such respected papers as the Washington Post and New York Times would do. Why can’t the Times Dispatch?
    >>
    >>Sincerely,
    >>Scott
    >>
    >>
    >>On Wednesday, January 12, 2005, at 08:42AM, Scott <> wrote:
    >>
    >>>Gentlemen,
    >>>
    >>>On the heels of the Armstrong Williams disclosure scandal (discussed on the TD editorial page this morning), I was hoping you could give me an answer about the Times Dispatch’s policies concerning disclosure, especially in regard to the arts center.
    >>>
    >>>Sincerely,
    >>>
    >>>Scott
    >>>
    >>>
    >>>On Friday, January 07, 2005, at 09:06AM, Scott <> wrote:
    >>>
    >>>>Gentlemen,
    >>>>
    >>>>I was really hoping I could get a response in written word.
    >>>>
    >>>>What are the requirements for the ombudsman’s position? Maybe I will apply.
    >>>>I have to tell you I was not very impressed by Mr. Finch, who seemed very timid in his role.
    >>>>
    >>>>I think its important that you address these issues of disclosure. Part of publishing a professional newspaper is answering basic questions from the public about journalistic ethics and establishing the newspaper’s own policies. I know the newspaper staff is aware of these issues because it always seems like the Times Dispatch editorial page is endlessly attacking the New York Times for avoiding the same kinds of ethical and professional issues.
    >>>>
    >>>>Honestly, it does not getting any more basic in journalism than disclosure.
    >>>>
    >>>>Sincerely,
    >>>>
    >>>>Scott
    >>>>
    >>>>
    >>>>
    >>>>On Thursday, January 06, 2005, at 07:07PM, TSilvestri@timesdispatch.com wrote:
    >>>>
    >>>>>Mr. :
    >>>>>
    >>>>>If you call me at 649-6121, I would be happy to discuss further.
    >>>>>
    >>>>>Also: The ombudsman’s position is open with the retirement of Jerry Finch.
    >>>>>
    >>>>>I am responding to your question as the publisher. I started Jan. 1.
    >>>>>
    >>>>>Thank you for the additional information.
    >>>>>
    >>>>>TAS
    >>>>>
    >>>>>—–Original Message—–
    >>>>>From: Scott
    >>>>>Sent: Thursday, January 06, 2005 2:21 PM
    >>>>>To: Silvestri, Thomas A.
    >>>>>Cc: Millsaps, Bill H.; Cronin, Claudia L.
    >>>>>Subject: RE: TD’s role with art center project
    >>>>>
    >>>>>Gentlemen,
    >>>>>
    >>>>>This is not an editorial position as much as it a question of how you conduct business, therefore I would like to get this addressed by the ombudsman or publisher. I will keep a letter to the editor in mind though.
    >>>>>
    >>>>>I think it is pretty clear from previous letters to the editor as well as online debates and open meetings, that there IS a very real public controversy. Other publications like Richmond Magazine and the Chesterfield Observer have been reporting it as such in the last two or three months.
    >>>>>
    >>>>>As for my own involvement in this controversy, I am a Richmond citizen and taxpayer. I have lived in this city for a number of years, in and near downtown. I have a long standing interest in the city’s music scene. I took part in discussion as part of Councilman Bill Pantele’s “art commission” meetings with the VPAF. I also know the Richmond citizens behind SaveRichmond.com and I do not always agree with everything they have said. I also know or have met Brad Armstrong, Jack Berry, Marty Jewell, Brooke Saunders, Bill Pantele, and Tucker Carlson. I am a friend of Greg Will, who has written well-researched disertations on Richmond’s public-private partnerships and the effects of similiar performing arts centers on other cities across the country (other aspects unreported by the T-D).
    >>>>>
    >>>>>At this point I would like a simple answer about the Times Dispatch’s policies concerning
    >>>>>disclosure, especially in regard to the arts center.
    >>>>>
    >>>>>Sincerely,
    >>>>>Scott
    >>>>>
    >>>>>

    >>>>>
    >>>>>On Thursday, January 06, 2005, at 11:28AM, TSilvestri@timesdispatch.com wrote:
    >>>>>
    >>>>>>Mr. :
    >>>>>>
    >>>>>>In the absence of an ombudsman, I am responding to your Jan. 5 email.
    >>>>>>
    >>>>>>First, thank you for your opinions. We welcome comments.
    >>>>>>
    >>>>>>Second, would you consider submitting your email to our letters to the editor section?
    >>>>>>
    >>>>>>In the meantime, I will share your observations and questions with the newsroom.
    >>>>>>
    >>>>>>Finally, you also asked for a response.
    >>>>>>
    >>>>>>News decisions about what and how to cover issues are made apart from business decisions, such as what community groups or interests to support. Your linkage forms a conclusion I don’t see here.
    >>>>>>
    >>>>>>I would appreciate, in the spirit of disclosure, if you could, in turn, elaborate on your role in this “controversy.”
    >>>>>>
    >>>>>>If you’d like to discuss by phone or in person, please let me know. As the new publisher, I am interested in meeting readers.
    >>>>>>
    >>>>>>Again, thank you for taking the time to write us.
    >>>>>>
    >>>>>>Tom Silvestri
    >>>>>>President and Publisher
    >>>>>>The Richmond Times-Dispatch
    >>>>>>
    >>>>>>—–Original Message—–
    >>>>>>From: Scott
    >>>>>>Sent: Wednesday, January 05, 2005 9:41 AM
    >>>>>>To: Ombudsman@timesdispatch.com
    >>>>>>Cc: Silvestri, Thomas A.
    >>>>>>Subject: TD’s role with art center project
    >>>>>>
    >>>>>>Gentlemen,
    >>>>>>
    >>>>>>I am very curious about the paper’s role regarding this important project. I was hoping you could address this for me.
    >>>>>>
    >>>>>>The Richmond Times-Dispatch’s coverage of a new $160 million (or is it $90 million?) arts center in Richmond, Virginia has mentioned the considerable behind-the-scenes roles of the Times-Dispatch’s publisher and his newspaper exactly one time in dozens of news and feature articles purporting to “cover” the arts center’s construction and fundraising.
    >>>>>>
    >>>>>>After local civic activists and other media sources made a big deal about the consistent non-disclosure, the newspaper finally relented and published news of its considerable behind-the-scenes role. But the story of the T-D’s gift and the publisher’s leadership role were not even originally disclosed by the paper. These facts were broken by another local publication, the Chesterfield Observer, and it was more than a month later that the Times Dispatch finally got around to informing its readers of these facts.
    >>>>>>
    >>>>>>http://www.timesdispatch.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=RTD/MGArticle/RTD_BasicArticle&c=MGArticle&cid=1031779435764
    >>>>>>
    >>>>>>Sidebar:
    >>>>>>http://www.timesdispatch.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=RTD/MGArticle/RTD_BasicArticle&c=MGArticle&cid=1031779434575
    >>>>>>
    >>>>>>Since this article, the paper has gone back to its former stance of crafting unquestioning and mostly one-sided articles, with no disclosures mentioned and very few critical questions asked.
    >>>>>>
    >>>>>>Many feel the Times-Dispatch has aggressively avoided reporting on the looming problems and controversies surrounding the building of the arts center because of the newspaper’s VERY close involvement. Even the article linked above, which does contain disclosure, fails to ask many pertinent questions, for fear that the paper and its publisher will look bad. Simple, verifiable questions such as “How much money does the arts foundation have in the bank?” are never asked. Despite tax information available in the public record, and a bulldog stance on revealing other types of city “corruption,” the paper has consistently failed to apply any kind of investigative journalistic effort to the project.
    >>>>>>
    >>>>>>This problem isn’t just limited to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Two more presidents/CEOS of area media companies (Richmond Free Press and Richmond.com) are also on the board of directors of this controversial arts center. Like the T-D, the media outlets have reported on the center but have willfully avoided any investigative scrutiny of the project. None of these media outlets have disclosed their considerable behind-the-scenes role in any reporting published on the center ? not even once.
    >>>>>>
    >>>>>>My question: Is disclosure a one-time thing? A voluntary thing? Is disclosure even necessary if the publisher feels “it is not” because disclosure would be too embarrassing, or revealing.
    >>>>>>
    >>>>>>Put another way: If a newspaper is giving “the largest [gift] of its kind in the history of the company” to something it is also supposed to be covering objectively ? and if the publisher is “chairman of the major gifts campaign” of that project ? shouldn’t disclosing those facts to readers more than once in three years be of paramount concern? Especially if the paper’s coverage of said project could arguably be called sub-standard and even fawning?
    >>>>>>
    >>>>>>Reprinted below, you will find an excerpt from the one and only time the Richmond Times-Dispatch has disclosed its considerable role. This comes at the very end of the feature:
    >>>>>>
    >>>>>> **************
    >>>>>>
    >>>>>> From Times Dispatch, Dec. 1 2004
    >>>>>> “Critics pan an artistic vision of Richmond”
    >>>>>>
    >>>>>> J. Stewart Bryan, chairman and chief executive officer of Media General and
    >>>>>> publisher of The Times-Dispatch, is a member of the foundation’s board and
    >>>>>> chairman of its major gifts campaign.
    >>>>>>
    >>>>>> Media General has pledged to contribute $1 million to the foundation over
    >>>>>> five years in cash and in-kind support, which could include promotional
    >>>>>> space in The Times-Dispatch, as well as research and printing, company
    >>>>>> officials said.
    >>>>>>
    >>>>>> “That is the largest [gift] of its kind in the history of the company,” said
    >>>>>> Lou Anne J. Nabhan, vice president of corporate communications for Media
    >>>>>> General.
    >>>>>>
    >>>>>> She noted that Media General has invested $75 million in recent years in its
    >>>>>> three-building downtown complex, which is a few blocks west of where the
    >>>>>> arts center’s first phase is planned.
    >>>>>>
    >>>>>> “Media General believes this project has strong economic benefits for the
    >>>>>> entire region,” Nabhan said. “We believe it should enhance the convention
    >>>>>> center and attract even more national conventions, and that it should
    >>>>>> increase Richmond’s appeal to tourists.”
    >>>>>>
    >>>>>> In addition to the support from Media General, the John Stewart Bryan
    >>>>>> Memorial Foundation is listed by the foundation among the donors that have
    >>>>>> given an amount between $25,000 and $249,999.
    >>>>>>
    >>>>>> The Caroline and Marshall Morton Family Fund is listed as having given an
    >>>>>> amount between $1,000 and $24,999. Marshall Morton is vice chairman and
    >>>>>> chief financial officer of Media General. Nabhan, a member of the Richmond
    >>>>>> Ballet’s board of directors, also is listed as having contributed an amount
    >>>>>> in that range.
    >>>>>>
    >>>>>>
    >>>>>>I am looking forward to your response.
    >>>>>>
    >>>>>>Sincerely,
    >>>>>>Scott
    >>>>>>
    >>>>>>Richmond, VA
    >>>>>>23220

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