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Barbara Lombardo of Saratoga Springs, NY, is a journalism adjunct at University at Albany and retired executive editor of The Saratogian, The Record and the Community News. Follow her on Twitter @Barb_Lombardo.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Fact-checking the letters

A letter published this morning (Dec. 7) in The Saratogian by Barbara Trypaluk incorrectly stated that state Supreme Court Judge Thomas Nolan is the brother of Saratoga County Republican Committee Chairman Jasper Nolan.
Not so, Jasper Nolan assured me in a telephone call. Both Nolan families grew up in Mechanicville, and they are family friends, but they are not related.
Trypaluk makes the inaccurate connection as her way of saying the judge's ruling on a case concerning the Beaver Pond development was a result of political and personal connections, calling the dismissal of the case on a technicality "an outrage and a miscarriage of justice."
She is entitled to her opinion, though, as we reported on The Saratogian news pages, the judge's role was not to rule on the merits of the case but on the merits of the legal challenge, which was indeed technically flawed.
People will draw conclusions, right or wrong, about political connections and pressure even if the people involved are not relatives. That's an opinion. But I'm troubled that the letter stated outright that the Nolans are brothers; our editors took that at the writer's word.
Opinions are welcome in letters to the editor; that's what they are for. But it is irresponsible to wrap opinions in erroneous "facts" that, as in this case, could have easily been checked by the writer.


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