Article about Reclaim New York ‘maliciously’ attacks civic group

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By Sunday, Sep 17 Letters  1 Comment

To the Editor:

A recent article in The Edge that attacked our nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, Reclaim New York, is filled with inaccuracies, and gaps in information.

Most of these inaccuracies remain, despite Reclaim’s staff providing an extensive list, with citations, of 22 misleading statements or factual inaccuracies.

The Edge does every reader a disservice when they allow political agendas, lies, conspiracy theories, and exaggerations to take priority over facts. Here are just a few of the most glaring inaccuracies:

The Edge may have “received sensitive documents, including Reclaim’s tax returns,” but the phrasing unfairly suggests Reclaim attempted to hide this information. In fact, the information is publicly available on our website, and from New York State.

The Edge article stated “Steve Bannon is marked down” “having served as the vice chairman… since last August.” The reporter and editors of the Edge were both informed that he left our board in August of 2016.  We directed them to news reports from legitimate media outlets verifying that information, yet they refused to correct it.

The Edge attributed comments to an alleged, unnamed Reclaim source, who was never a part of our organization.

The Edge asserted that Reclaim does not have citations for statistics in presentations, when there are extensive citations available upon request, on our website, in the methodologies for our reports, and our staff regularly provide them in question and answer sessions.

The Edge article reported a guest speaker at a Reclaim event was a state assemblyman. This was blatantly not true.

The Edge claims a school district in Peekskill is “resisting” litigation over a records request they illegally denied. In reality, just a matter of days after the suit was filed, Peekskill schools turned over all the documents requested. Reclaim has filed suit in only 11 cases of egregious violations of state transparency law.

Reclaim New York is a civic organization that is committed to fact-based research and growing a broad dialogue about public policy issues. We are always available to answer questions from media and could have clarified all of this beforehand, but the Edge’s reporter did not follow common journalistic practice and ask about these items.

If you disagree on policy with Reclaim, and the New Yorkers who support our organization, then have an open, healthy debate. Resorting to peddling misinformation and failing to correct inaccuracies isn’t real journalism. It’s wrong.

Doug Kellogg

597 5th Ave. 7th Floor

New York, New York

The writer is Communications Director for Reclaim New York.

Writer Victor Feldman replies:

I stand by everything that we reported — with the one exception of having written that Steve Keblish is a former state assemblyman. I was wrong on that account. He was a county legislator, and the copy has been corrected.

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One Comment   Add Comment

  1. Michael Wise says:

    When the Edge first published this story, I looked up the website for the project that lies behind what Reclaim is doing. The methodology laid out there is unimpressive. Crowd-sourced “data” (in scare quotes because much of what they’re asking for is pretty soft stuff) about aspects of administrative rules and practice are to be gathered by self-selected amateurs, and the data will then be transformed via an obscure formula into a single-digit measure — that is, grade — of compliance with the policy preferences of the Reclaim project (which is to say, of the Mercer machine). The international bureaucracies where I once worked often try similar exercises, and they encounter similar problems: data is mediocre or worthless, and the transformation of data into a single-number measure is either arbitrary or pre-ordained because the metric is designed to confirm the priors. In my ten years at the OECD working with such projects, the supposedly quantitative results of these indicator-based exercises rarely told us anything we did not already know. But the too-simple “measures” that resulted were seized as sound-bite material for PR naming and shaming.

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