The ProJo's editorial mistake


The Providence Journal's lead editorial today, "Bring your list to the polls," needles some public-employee union leaders for "trying to take out Democratic legislative leaders who pushed for pension reform last fall" and calls on voters to cast their ballots for the targeted pols. From the piece:

The best known example of the attempt to take out pension-reform leaders is the primary challenge faced by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Daniel DaPonte, of East Providence, from Pawtucket police Lt. (and state Rep.) Roberto DaSilva, who voted against the overhaul and is being well funded by donations from teachers and firefighters.

Then there’s House Finance Committee Chairman Helio Melio, of East Providence, being challenged by John Rossi, a former president of Local 569 of the International Brotherhood of Police Officers and now a public-union organizer.

The trouble here - other than misspelling Helio Melo's name - is that Rossi is not actually challenging Melo for his seat. He took out nomination papers, but never gathered and filed the appropriate number of voter signatures.

Patrick Crowley, an official with the National Education Association - Rhode Island, has been highlighting the error all day on Twitter. He also argues that the DaSilva-DaPonte race is really more about East Providence politics than the pension fight.

Yes, he says, NEA-RI has backed DaSilva over DaPonte. But labor is hardly united; DaPonte, after all, voted for a binding arbitration bill that was a big priority for the unions.

Crowley's outrage over the DaSilva-DaPonte bit may be a little overdone. At least some public employees are looking to take out DaPonte and it's not unreasonable to assume that his vote for pension reform is a prime motivator.

But the editorial, in the most uncharitable reading, suggests something less than a full command of Rhode Island politics. And it is, at a mimimum, a sloppy piece of journalism.

There is the Rossi error. But the piece also includes a long list of House members who either voted against pension reform or were absent for the vote. Voters, the paper suggests, should take the list to the polls. One problem: at least two of the legislators on the list - Robert Flaherty and John McCauley - are not running for re-election.


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