Dan Skolnik addresses West End News claims

(Cross-posted at Augusta Insider)

A few weeks ago, the Portland Public Safety Committee gave Portland Police the OK to use tasers for a trial period. Prior to the agreement, several Maine groups including Peace Action Maine and the Maine Civil Liberties Union, spoke out against the use of tasers by the Portland PD. Councilman Dan Skolnik wrote an Op/Ed in the Portland Press Herald on June 27th attempting to alleviate some concerns over police taser use. One Portlander did not agree with Councilman Skolnik’s views.

Marge Niblock, police reporter for the West End News, wrote an rebuttal to Councilman Skolnik’s editorial in the Portland Press Herald and the West End News. Niblock questioned Councilman Skolnik’s facts on tasers, specifically the banning of tasers in Baltimore, Chicago, and Philidelphia and Councilman Skolnik’s citing of a taser manufacturer’s website as a resource for how “police technology is regulated at the municipal level all over the country.” Niblock accused Councilman Skolnik and the Portland Press Herald of “promulgating misinformation

Niblock also reported that Councilman Skolnik told her “My statement is not false. It’s not sufficiently accurate.” in response to his inaccuracies in the PPH editorial. “(Skolnik’s
clarification brings to mind President Bill Clinton’s famous disclaimer: “I did not have sex with that woman.”)” Niblock wrote in reply.

The West End News reported last week that Councilman Skolnik “called the writer of the story at her home after the story appeared, screaming at her and calling her a liar. He also
called the newspaper in a rage, claiming that his words had been distorted.” Niblock also said she had taken a polygraph test confirming her side of the story.

We have the West End News’ side of the story, but what about Councilman Skolnik. Councilman Skolnik has provided a statement clarifying his side of the incident. The statement appears below in full.

When Marge Niblock called me and brought the error to my attention I went back to the source material and looked again. I told her, “You’re right I made a mistake. I was looking at the wrong information in the source material. Of course, the statement isn’t false, because tasers ARE prohibited for civilians. But, yes, it’s not sufficiently accurate because that’s not what we’re talking about; we’re talking about police use.”

Niblock distorted that statement into her headline, “My statement wasn’t false, it wasn’t sufficiently accurate.” She purposefully and knowingly made it look like I TRIED to mislead people with the misstatement, AND that I didn’t acknowledge the error when pointed out in that phone call. Both implications are as false as can be, and Niblock knows that.

This little bit of invention was apparently done so Niblock could make a witticism about Bill Clinton and me, rather than advance the public discourse on taser use by the Portland Police Dept. But Clinton’s statement was videotaped.

Are we to be impressed that Niblock claims to have passed a polygraph test? They are unreliable, and in any case it shows she cannot produce any RECORD that I said what she printed. That’s because her gross distortion is either an irresponsible or an incompetent fiction.

Ed King is also inflamed over this because I called Niblock on the carpet, although he is unable to come up with a cogent reason why. His ideas about the role of the press in local politics are unique among the Portland press corps. Ed’s notions of honesty and fairness evidently do not match mine

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