By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

What we still don’t know about Dan Totten

The Globe and the Herald today report that Boston Newspaper Guild president Dan Totten is suspected of signing someone else’s name as a countersignature on his paycheck. So here are a few follow-up questions:

  • Is this something he did regularly?
  • Did other union officials know it?
  • Have other union officials done the same?
  • Was this money to which he wasn’t entitled? (Surely he was entitled to his paycheck.)

To be sure, Totten, whose union is the Globe’s largest, shouldn’t have signed someone else’s name on a check, and it kind of sounds like he’s admitted that, according to the reports. But we still don’t know whether we’re talking about ill intent or just a seat-of-the-pants management style.

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  1. O-FISH-L

    Dan, a fifth bullet point, along the lines of your fourth, might be whether the person whose signature was forged was aware that he was going to sign for him/her?

    I think if he is being persecuted and potentially prosecuted for signing someone’s name, after that person said over the phone “go ahead, just sign my name” then we might all be guilty of that at some point in life.

    OTOH, if he signed someone’s name without that person’s consent, I think he has a bigger problem, even if he was entitled to the money.

    One confusing aspect of the Herald story is the report that the union is going to file “charges” against Totten. Are these internal union charges, charges brought by a criminal application in the district court, charges in a lawsuit? What type of “charges” are we talking about?

  2. Dan Kennedy

    Fish: I thought point #2 covered that, but yes, absolutely.

  3. gilded

    no love for the guy. he acts like a dunderhead often. but true the story sounded much worse the first day, as did the letter sigined “in unity” that was reprinted by the phoenix on-line. curious that there was one member of the exec committee who was not a signatory, carl younger. you’re right, dan, that there are more questions than answers. another to add to your list, did the exec committee throw totten overboard to try to mollify members fo the newsroom who were planning a recall?

  4. Dan,
    I’m a freelance writer in the D.C. area and filed a story today on Totten. I saw that you wrote earlier about both the Globe and Herald covering this. I’m including a link to my story.
    Best wishes.

  5. O-FISH-L

    Dan, point taken. I was just narrowing it to the specific person whose name was signed, but I see what you’re saying.

  6. InsiderNegot

    The critical thing to know, at least as far as Totten’s credibility, is whether the person whose name he signed was aware of it and whether this was a practice. If so, this is obviously an attempt by the other signer to oust Totten and/or separate herself from him with regard to the recall. This still does not and cannot condone what he did, if he did it.

    On the other hand, if this was done without consent or knowledge, it would obviously require the Union to launch an investigation to insure that it had not happened before.

    Either way, Totten will unlikely be able to remain as President and this will almost assure a Department of Labor investigation.

    In any event, another blow to the membership of the Guild.

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