The performance of the Maine Green Energy Alliance, and its effectiveness or ineffectiveness in helping Maine people winterize their homes, are topics worthy of scrutiny. The group’s track record is fair game for even the harshest objective analysis.
I don’t feel the same way about character assassination by insinuation.
I refer to the recent story by Naomi Schalit of the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting. I was an eyewitness to how this all started. Several folks in the Biddeford-Saco area pressed vigorously for Tom Federle to be recruited to the Task Force To Close Maine Energy. Why? Because of his expertise and impeccable reputation for honesty.
That task force met on an almost weekly basis in the summer of 2009, plowing their way through grueling meetings as they tried to help Casella Waste fulfill a contract pledge to work in good faith toward finding a way to close Maine Energy, a constant source of nuisances and an obstacle to economic redevelopment in downtown Biddeford-Saco. It was hard work on hot summer evenings by many honest and dedicated public servants.
None of that background or context made it into Schalit’s story. Instead, she picked up the story half way, taking fragments of an e-mail here or parts of a quote there, putting them together completely out of context. Without making any specific allegation, she insinuated motivations that just didn’t exist.
I’m all for courageous investigative journalism, and Schalit has triumphed in that realm before. This piece fell short of that standard, however. It was a cartoon.