|A Publisher's Job Ain't Easy;
Petition Fraud and Primary Elections
By MICHAEL SCHENKLER
A publishers job aint easy!
Last week, I took aim at the the publisher
of a small chain of newspapers for irresponsibly printing a column of hate.
Also last week, the victim of an error took
aim at the Tribune.
Adult advertising which was a matter
of slight controversy two decades ago has become an accepted form of promoting
adult entertainment. What is advertised in community papers, dailies, alternative
weeklies, and on the web is sometimes disturbing to some. However, with a society
saturated with sexual images and innuendos television airing prime time images and
topics once taboo, billboards suggestive to the point of traffic jams, and sex of all
kinds as acceptable topics of conversation the unacceptable of just a couple of
decades ago has become the norm. All the innocent or offended can do is look the other
It wasnt so easy for one Forest Hills
I dont know her and she shall remain
ABCs Tappy Phillips outside the
Tribune building taping a segment
which will aired this week.
Trib photo: Dee Richard
She was likely sitting at home
quietly and her phone began to ring. On the other end were men, perhaps couples, seeking
someone to fill their fantasies. And not just any someone... a special someone who
advertises in the adult section of a community newspaper, this community newspaper.
It seems the advertiser, in writing out
their ad copy, replaced their business phone exchange with another printing the
other four numbers correctly and the resultant number belonged to our innocent
Forest Hills resident.
Ring, ring, ring. Hello is this the madam
who will fulfill all my fantasies?
Ring, ring, ring. Hi, does it matter how
kinky my fetish is?
And the ad said 24 hours a day.
Well, advertising in the Trib works,
and our poor Forest Hills resident could take it no more. She took her anger out at the Trib.
Seems she called the classified department several times and later spoke to me. She was
angry; we didnt communicate. I tried to apologize even though we made no error, but
when she started yelling and scolding me even though perhaps I shouldnt have
I scolded back. Needless to say, we didnt get along. Boy, was she angry.
She made a demand for caller ID paid for by
the Trib. She repeated the demand by email, threatening if we didnt comply by
her deadline. I tried to call her, but she didnt answer her phone no
Well, last Tuesday it started. Letters were
received by advertisers, complaining about us and the incident.
Wednesday, Public Advocate Mark
Greens office called. Thursday, Councilwoman Koslowitz. They each got letters. There
must have been others probably lots of them. I explained the situation to each
caller. We discussed the discomfort of the innocent Forest Hills woman. It seems that the
advertiser started calling the woman for leads. (Now stop it, its not a laughing
matter.) I felt terrible.
We emailed the Forest Hills women and
informed her we were going to run a copy of her letter to advertisers and withhold her
name. Her letter was aimed at starting diaologue about adult advertising. We thought
wed encourage the dialogue by printing the letter. She emailed back demanding that
we not print her letter. We didnt.
Thursday: ABCs Tappy Phillips was the
next call. She was doing an item for TV. She and I discussed the incident and seemed to
agree about what happened. However, I declined an on air interview. She asked if we
verified phone numbers of our advertisers. I said we didnt. She asked if verifying
was industry policy. I said I didnt think it was. She asked if the New York Times
verified phone numbers. I told her I had used their classified section frequently and
never recall getting a verification call. She said that perhaps they used the phone
company database (available online or by disk). I had the New York Times called, so
did Tappy we agreed the Times does not verify.
Thursday afternoon, Tappy calls me from
outside the Trib office where she is taping part of the segment. I go outside to
say hello off camera. She asks for a copy of the current Trib... presumably
to check that the same error didnt appear... it didnt. Tappy has found a
couple of dailies that do verify classified phone numbers. I indicated that the Trib
shall probably do so for adult ads on a go-forward basis. It makes sense.
She tapes and moves on. The segment aired
Now, Im certain that our Forest Hills
woman has nothing nice to say about the Trib. And about the advertiser, I can only
Thursday night I went home and quietly
wrote the following email to the innocent woman in Forest Hills:
I have tried to reach you at home
without success, and so I thought it would be best to drop you a line via e-mail.
I understand that what has happened to you
as a result of a mistake made by a business that advertises with us is very upsetting and
I am sorry for your upset. I can only imagine the inconvenience and disruption to your
life. Im sorry that our phone conversation dealt with anger instead of
I am also sorry that you did not want us to
run the letter you have distributed. I believe that open dialogue and debate between
rational and calm people is the best way to run a newspaper and influence a community. You
have raised an interesting issue and your energy has kept it on my desk.
If there is any further request or comment
you would like to make, please feel free to email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Good luck in your search for a returned
peace of mind.
Friday, all was quiet.
Now that the ABC segment aired, it could
all start over again.
A publishers job aint easy!
PETITION FRAUD? Can you imagine what
its like to see what purports to be your signature staring back at you from a legal
document you know you never saw before, never mind signed?
Well, thats what Marcia Moxam Comrie
encountered at her door first thing Sunday morning when two people a man and a
woman from State Senator Malcolm Smiths campaign rang her bell.
Marcia is Associate Publisher of the PRESS
of Southeast Queens, our new sister newspaper serving the middle class black communities
of the area.
Leroy, her husband, is an active member of
the Guy Brewer Democratic club and, according to insiders, is the likely heir to
the Archie Spigner Council seat. He had been to the Board of Elections as part of the
Smith effort to review the petitions of the opponent... former Assemblywoman Cynthia
Jenkins. As I recall, Cynthia lost her Assembly seat over a petition challenge alleging
Leroy had just returned from an errand when
the doorbell rang and didnt get a chance to tell Marcia theyd just discovered
her signature on Cynthia Jenkins petition.
Marcia had never met the man and woman at
the door, and was startled when the man held up a copy of the petition with her signature,
through the screen door. He asked, "Marcia Moxam, is this your signature?"
She wasnt wearing her glasses but
knew it wasnt her signature since she had not signed Jenkins petition. She ran
for the glasses and took a closer look to confirm that the signature was forged.
The folks doing the challenge have told
Marcia that she is merely one of more than 400 forged names theyve discovered thus
far from the same petition carrier.
Marcia, who found the experience unnerving,
will likely be called as a witness in the Board of Elections quasi-judicial proceeding
where they will challenge Jenkins petition we assume claiming it is permeated
Cynthia never learns! She was busted
several years ago for the same thing and here she goes filing petitions again without
checking them for authenticity and she certainly didnt file a huge excess of
signatures to bolster her cause.
Cmon Cynthia, everyone else in Queens
politics knows you use signatures of the recently deceased when youre desperate, not
the folks who are easy to spot.
Although we havent heard the word, we
do expect a second challenge to Cynthia Jenkins Democratic District Leader petitions
there too, her numbers come up without much of a cushion.
Michael Schenkler can be reached at: MSchenkler@QueensTribune.com
Click Here For The Not 4 Publication