The Batavia Daily News seems intent on teaching City Manager Jason Molino a little lesson after getting scooped on Fire Chief Tom Dillon's resignation. The lesson: Don't fight with people who buy ink by the barrel.
Friday, Batavia's "paper of record" published an editorial slamming what they called City Manager Jason Molino's secrecy.
It was pretty harsh.
City administrator Jason Molino, isn't talking, and neither are ''his'' employees -- we say "his" because that is how he refers to them, even though taxpayers pay their salaries.
In the editorial, they say Dillon's resignation became public only because a help wanted ad was spotted in the Democrat and Chronicle. That's not, shall we say, accurate.
The Batavian broke the story and it had nothing to do with an ad appearing in the D&C. If you read the original post, you'll see, we didn't even know about the ad when we first posted our story. We got the story the good old-fashioned way -- by talking with sources.
Of course, the Daily can't give credit where credit's due -- that would violate Tom Turnbull's mandate that the newspaper never print The Batavian's name (well, they did have to take our LLC ad).
Yet, the staff there pays attention when we get stories before them, and the Dillon scoop seems to have particularly rubbed the "newspaper of record" the wrong way.
Today, the lead story is about the fire chief but it doesn't tell readers much new. We already know that Molino would handle interim administrative duties for the department and that the four captains turned down the interim position. That takes care of the first two paragraphs of the story. From there, we're treated to the details of the Daily trying to get more information from the city and Molino's unresponsiveness.
The Daily News had asked City Manager Jason Molino what the city's plan was in lieu of a chief. He did not return phone calls or e-mails. Cox forwarded questions from The Daily News to Molino, who then sent a reply to all councilmen. He still has not replied to The Daily News.
After explaining the 211 waiver situation (again, nothing new here), we get more back-and-forth on the Daily's attempts to get more information from the city. Then we read again the fiction that the public wouldn't have known about the situation if the Daily hadn't asked:
The Daily News had also sent an e-mail last week to all City Councilmen to find out why the public was kept in the dark about Dillon's departure. The news was publicized only after The Daily News asked Molino and Dillon about Dillon's employment status.
Now, I can certainly sympathize with the editorial staff's frustration at getting shut out of communication with Jason Molino and city staff. We've made those complaints public ourselves, and perhaps with a tad too much arrogance and pettiness, but some honest reporting is in order here. The Daily got beat. It happens in a competitive news town. Between the Daily, The Batavian and WBTA, we've all had our own scoops in the past several months, and we will all continue to develop our own sources and stories and get some of them first. That's the way it goes. Unless a source deliberately burns you, there's no point in getting upset with government officials because another news outlet did its job and got the information.
UPDATE: I just saw the print edition -- this story is banner headline on the top of the front page. Meanwhile, Pagent of the Bands folding after 35 years, and the Daily put most of that story below the fold. That's a huge story in a community like this. Nice scoop. Wish I had it.