WPCNR Milkman’s Matinee News Caravan. By John F. Bailey. November 4, 2002 UPDATED: WPCNR has learned Assemblyperson Amy Paulin and County Legislator James Maisano allegedly reviewed a letter to the editor that former Eastchester Town Report writer, Robert Fois had submitted to ETRPublisher Howard Sturman for presumed publication in last Thursday’s edition.
Today, in an editorial, The New York Post broke the wall of silence regarding the Paulin “whispering campaign,” going on record that Paulin forces have been subtlely talking Mr. Sayegh’s race for some time.
Meanwhile, as a consequence of the alleged Paulin-Maisano censorship, the Fois letter was never published, effectively preventing Fois comments from appearing in the newspaper before Election Day tomorrow.
The involvement of two politicians in discussion with a publisher, apparently evaluating whether or not a letter to the editor was acceptable to the politicians for publication began last Monday October 28, when Robert Fois submitted his letter to ETR publisher Howard Sturman.
Not Happy Campers
After Mr. Sturman shared the letter with Ms. Paulin and Mr. Maisano, one or both of the two politicians (it is not clear who, Sturman advised Fois) had a problem with a paragraph which they asked Sturman to remove from the letter.
Sturman is reported by Fois to have said, (by way of explanation for delay in his Sturman’s approving Fois’ first letter), that the paragraph had to be removed because of a threat from Mr. Maisano of a lawsuit.
Fois said that ETR Editor Mike Moritz reported he would remove the questionable paragraph.
Writes Second Letter After Paragraph Removed
Mr. Fois revised his first letter, removing the offending paragraph, and resubmitted it to Mr. Sturman for publication. Fois said he resubmitted Wednesday morning “before work” in plenty of time for the 5 PM deadline for last week’s Eastchester Town Report.
“Not enough time to run it by legal”
Fois said he was told by Sturman Wednesday afternoon, he did not have time to “run it by legal,” consequently the letter never was published, effectively preventing Fois comments from appearing before Election Day. Perhaps the letter will be published this week, after Election Day.
The original letter Paulin and Maisano were reportedly advised the contents of, was Fois’ explanation of why he chose to turn over “the Amy Tape” to the Tony Sayegh campaign, (Mr. Sayegh is Ms. Paulin’s opponent in tomorrow’s election).
The “Amy Tape” revealed remarks Ms. Paulin made to Fois about Arab Nationals contained on a tape Mr. Fois had made during a telephone interview with her in July. A portion of that tape was played on television two weeks ago.
Paulin Statement Out of Blue Precipitates Inquiry.
That Ms. Paulin and Mr. Maisano were made aware of Mr. Fois’ letter was reported to WPCNR by Mr. Fois, when WPCNR contacted him for reaction to a statement sent WPCNR from Amy Paulin Saturday afternoon.
The statement, coming two weeks after WPCNR asked for a statement from Ms. Paulin, referenced a letter that Ms. Paulin expected had already been sent to WPCNR by Howard Sturman, which WPCNR has yet to receive.
Her statement stands by her comments which originally appeared in The Journal News, indicating he was dismissed. She disputes Mr. Fois’ account that he was put on a leave of absence, and takes the opportunity to comment on the ethics of Mr. Fois’ submission of the tape to Mr. Sayegh:
Fois said he submitted (at Mr. Sturman’s invitation) a letter about his side of the story on Monday, October 28 and was notified Tuesday, of the demand to remove one paragraph. Mr. Fois declined to release the text of the paragraph for publication due to the fear of a lawsuit, however he described for WPCNR its contents that aroused the legislators ire:
The Purloined Paragraph Contents
“I was informed by Hometown Media publisher Howard Sturman that his editor would be removing what he characterized as an “inflammatory” paragraph from my letter to the editor. It was explained that this was being done following what Sturman said was a threat of a lawsuit by Westchester County Legislator Jim Maisano over only this particular paragraph. The paragraph contained a reference to Jim Maisano and Frank Pasquale, detailing what numerous sources within the Democratic and Republican parties have described as an active political association between Jim Maisano and Amy Paulin.
The paragraph in my letter also said that Amy Paulin and others closely associated with her campaign had described John Zogby’s (President of the Arab American Institute) website as being run by Arabs who were “dangerous” in terms of Middle East politics. I felt that Amy Paulin was trying to get me to believe that her opponent Tony Sayegh was seeking money from terrorists and her political technique offended me. The letter explained that others had encountered similar experiences with Paulin and people closely associated with her campaign.
I had also said in my letter to the editor that I felt, in my humble opinion, that these statements by Paulin and others closely associated with her campaign were scare tactics and a “hate crime” in itself.”
Statement from Nowhere.
The call to Mr. Fois by WPCNR, Saturday evening, in which we left a message. Mr. Fois did not call back until Sunday evening. At that time, being informed of the Paulin statement, Fois shared his story of the Sturnam-reported “intervention” by Ms. Paulin and Mr. Maisano.
WPCNR made the call in response to a statement electronically transmitted to WPCNR over the weekend by it turned out, Julie Domonkos, Paulin’s Campaign Manager. In the statement, Ms. Paulin reconfirmed what she had told the Journal News when the Tony Sayegh News Conference playing the “Amy Tape” was held, that Fois was fired.
She added another dimension, emphatically denying prescreening Mr. Fois’ articles as Mr. Fois charged in a previous WPCNR story. Ms. Paulin also appeared on News12, (we believe Friday evening was the date of the telecast), interviewed by News12 reporter Tracy Everson alleging that the tape played on News12 was “edited,” suggesting it was not in context.
Michael Zanetti, Tony Sayegh’s Campaign Manager, said the tape had not been edited
in any way, and said he would produce recording engineers who could attest to that.
Paulin de Fois Gras
Paulin, in her statement to WPCNR, said, that she never prescreened articles. Instead, she said, “What I did do was complain after Mr. Fois’s articles appeared that he seemed biased against me in his reportage.”
Paulin wrote WPCNR that “Far from being an objective, non-partisan journalist, Mr. Fois was and is supporting my opponent. This is why he was put on leave of absence by the Eastchester Town Report, a fact also confirmed by Mr. Sturman.”
Paulin went even further in her written statement: “It is simply untrue that Mr. Fois asked to be put on a leave. In fact, Mr. Sturman disputes Mr. Fois’s entire account of what happened at the Eastchester Town Report.
Paulin: Fois dismissed.
When WPCNR talked to Ms. Paulin to confirm the statement came from her, WPCNR asked her if Mr. Sturman had told her that Fois was fired. She confirmed that Sturman had told her that he had been dismissed. WPCNR asked if there was more taped conversation that Mr. Fois had not released, and she said yes, saying that on that portion of the tape that she had said that she did not want to make race an issue.
Mr. Fois Demurs
Mr. Fois, as confirmation that he wrote not one, but two letters to the editor, the first of which, Paulin and Maisano allegedly reviewed, released the two letters he wrote to WPCNR News.
In those letters, he steadfastly maintains, it was his decision to go on a leave of absence:
“I resigned from Hometown Media in August over what I felt had been interference by Jim Maisano and Amy Paulin in the newsroom, with both often complaining about stories before they were on the newsstand.”
Fois Last Story
The last straw for Fois, was the last story he wrote for Eastchester Town Report. It dealt with the closing of firehouses in Mount Vernon, Eastchester, Tuckahoe and New Rochelle, in which he reported Paulin’s announcement of money for one firehouse in her district.
Fois said, he asked Paulin what about the firehouse in Tuckahoe, and other towns. Fois charges that before the article was published Paulin complained to editors that his asking that question of “what about Eastchester, and Tuckahoe” to which Mr. Fois said she responded, “it’s not a state issue,” was raised to make her look badly and showed his bias against her.
Head of Arab American Institute Takes Paulin to Task in The Scarsdale Inquirer
The Scarsdale Inquirer published a letter from Dr. James Zogby, the President of the Arab American Institute last week, severely criticizing Paulin for her remarks on the “Amy Tape,” and at the Scarsdale League of Women Voters debate. Among the comments, Mr. Zogby, a national figure in the Democratic Party, makes are:
Ms. Paulin further compounds this outrage (the tape comments) by making an issue of the fact that Mr. Sayegh’s candidacy is noted on the Web site of my organization: the Arab American Institute, which she falsely claims contains “a lot of anti-Semitism.” Her tactic in this regard is appalling and unwarranted of an elected official.
Zogby is outraged at the attack on his website, writing “I take this charge very personally. It is both hurtful and wrong. To lightly throw around the charge of anti-Semitism is dangerous and ugly character assassination, Ms. Paulin owes Mr. Sayegh and my institute an apology.”
He makes the point that his website, www.aaiusa.org. notes various candidacies of Arab-Americans, including Congressman John Baldacci, running for Governor of Maine; Congressman John Sununu who is contending for the U.S. Senate in New Hampshire and Congressman Chris John up for re-election in Louisiana.
Zogby pulls no punches, closing the letter to The Scarsdale Inquirer, this way: Ms. Paulin and Mr. Sayegh’s campaign is one thing. But allegations made against a third party are a different matter. She should not have “Arab-baited” Mr. Sayegh and she most definitely attempted to smear AAI with anti-Semitism…”
Paulin reportedly accuses the Arab American Institute as being “anti-semitic” again at League of Women Voters Debate after tape airs.
However, it is reported by Fois, that Ms. Paulin, appearing at the Scarsdale League of Women Voters Debate on Monday, October 28, (one week after the “Amy Tape” had been made public at a Sayegh News Conference October 21), repeated comments about the Arab American Institute being “anti-semitic.”
In the first edition of this article, WPCNR wrote that The Scarsdale Inquirer did not report these debate comments of Paulin, not having a copy of the Scarsdale Inquirer available when the article was being created.
Mr. Zanetti, Campaign Manager for Mr. Sayegh said the Scarsdale Inquirer did report Ms. Paulin as saying an organization that supported Sayegh on their website was “anti-semtic,” and they should be investigated. The Journal News did not, to WPCNR knowledge at this time report her comments on this issue.
It has also been reported to WPCNR that Ms. Paulin has made similar comments at debates in New Rochelle and Eastchester, and WPCNR is working to confirm that.
“As James Zogby’s letter clearly illustrates,” Fois said last night, “respected people in the New York State community are offended by her statements and are demanding an apology. That she continues to characterize a Democrat, James Zogby as anti-semitic as recently as last Monday, (A week after the tape was aired) there’s clearly a deeper problem going on here with Ms. Paulin.”