‘We won’

After battling with the state Attorney General’s Office for five months, The Trentonian won its prior restraint fight. I’m pleased to see, in publishing the story that I started reporting on last year, the newspaper also posted the document I lawfully obtained.

Judge Lawrence DeBello, who decided the case this week, which went into the backstory of how a 5-year-old kindergartner ended up in foster care after he was found with drugs at school twice in two months, ruled that I didn’t do anything illegal in obtaining the documents from the boy’s mother, Tashawn Ford. Continue reading

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Mercer County’s Angelo Onofri: ‘Lunch pail guy’ or cowardly cop protector?

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Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo Onofri (courtesy of MCPO)

Angelo Onofri gives off good first impressions of being a nice guy.

In February 2015, when he was sworn in as acting Mercer County prosecutor on the fourth floor of the criminal courthouse, he told a story about how he and former prosecutor, friend and accused sexual harasser Joseph Bocchini became conjoined at the hip early in life.

Bocchini was running for state general assembly and asked Onofri, a Hamiltonian, to work for him as a legislative assistant, handing him a pair of “Go Jo Bo” shirts the young, enamored Onofri wore every day to work.

That sowed the seeds for Onofri’s successful legal career as a cheerleader who ingratiated himself with the right people – in politics and with the police – and has been elevated to a position of leadership he is uncomfortable in and perhaps doesn’t belong. Continue reading

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Remembering journalist Steve Buttry, digital word minimalist

Any time.

Those words stuck with me when I heard the heartbreaking news about the passing of a journalism legend from a disease that afflicts millions and has touched my life.

Steve Buttry, journalist, teacher, human extraordinaire, told me that Dec. 20, when he reached out to me after reading a blog post about my second bout with testicular cancer.

Time is all he had for everyone even though his was marked. Steve succumbed to pancreatic cancer Feb. 19.

That two-word opening in this post is what Steve would have called a “string-bikini lede.” He taught me that when he spoke to our newsroom in 2013, while I was a sports reporter at the North Adams Transcript in Massachusetts.

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Steve Buttry

Steve and my interactions were few, but never fleeting. I recounted our first encounter here.

After I got fired from The Transcript after 18 days, and landed at a Digital First Media sister paper in Torrington, Connecticut, Buttry visited a second time and spoke to our newspaper crew there, as part of his rounds with Thunderdome, what was then DFM’s national think tank.

More recently, Buttry reached out to me after my second diagnosis with testicular cancer to pass along words of encouragement.

Those words remain with me while I undergo chemotherapy at the University of Jefferson Hospital in Philadelphia. Continue reading

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Critiquing ‘The Slaveship’: Journalism, individualism and our institutions

When you put your byline on the top of an article, the teamwork that encompassed the process of journalism becomes an afterthought to readers.

You are responsible for errors, typos, omissions of fact and everything good or bad about the piece. As every reporter knows, that includes the headline.

Look, I’ll take responsibility for it all. But not the headline.

Having been a part of a newsroom, and having come up with clanking headlines, I can tell you firsthand a collection of idiots wrote it, thinking it was brilliant.

It’s groupthink and bystander effect, mixed into a horrible six-word attention-grabber. I saw that manifest itself while watching a college basketball game on “The Mothership,” ESPN.

For a full accounting of my diatribe, you can check Twitter.

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Continue reading

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New Mexico’s Krebs loves bully pulpit

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University of New Mexico athletic director Paul Krebs (courtesy of NBC News)

In his 10 years leading the University of New Mexico’s athletic department, Paul Krebs has shown himself to be a bully and a shameless survivalist who will do anything in his power to escape trouble when controversy hits.

 

He should step down as athletic director, in light of his latest act of treason.

He is just like President Donald Trump, targeting talented dissenter reporters who have written truthful – and unflattering – stories about him and the UNM athletics department.

The latest: NMFishBowl.com chieftain Daniel Libit has written a number of critical stories in recent weeks that have exposed the underbelly of UNM athletics, much to Krebs’ displeasure. Continue reading

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‘No chemo, no case’

Paul Bergrin, a former federal prosecutor who went rogue and was dubbed by New York Magazine as the “baddest lawyer in the history of Jersey,” got a life sentence, when in a full-throated delivery on a federal wiretap, he offered the following nutso advice to a Newark drug kingpin who was willing to shell out in order to snuff out someone who had ratted on an associate: “No Kemo. No case.”

The attorney ordered up a hit on Kemo Deshawn McCray, a federal informant, like others order up pizzas.

McCray was shot in the head three times in Newark on March 2, 2004, according to New York Magazine.

Paul Bergrin is seen at the U.S. Army Taylor barracks in Mannheim

Convicted NJ attorney Paul Bergrin (Reuters)

His death became the cornerstone of the massive murder-racketeering case against Bergrin, the likes of which gripped the ever-notorious Garden State, even with all the low-slung garden-variety dipshittery that goes on here. (Yes, I’m talking about the First Amendment case.)

I remember uttering similar words as Bergrin while I was in the hospital, although in a different context and not on federal wiretap: “No chemo. No case.”

Of course, I wasn’t talking about snuffing out a federal informant, but chemotherapy. Continue reading

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Fighting cancer and for freedom of the press

Whirlwind week. I wanted to give everyone an update, and hopefully, some relief after I was admitted to Robert Wood Johnson Hospital in Hamilton last week.

I’m sure some of you heard the news in an article via The Daily Beast that touched on the prior restraint fight I’ve been involved with in New Jersey regarding my reporting on a 5-year-old kindergarten student in Trenton who was found with drugs twice at school in two months.

It had been shaping into a whopper of a fight featuring the state Attorney General, The Trentonian and me, and had attracted the glare of the national and local media and the Society of Professional Journalists.

My focus had been squarely on that until last week, when I got sucker-punched with another cancer diagnosis. photo illustration.PNG

Since then, I have been put on a cocktail of drugs and have been run through a battery of tests – blood scans, CAT scans, MRIs, endoscopy and colonoscopy – to figure out exactly what is wrong with me. Continue reading

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