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

Guild treasurer addresses Totten charges

The following e-mail has been sent to the members of the Boston Newspaper Guild, the largest union at the Boston Globe. A copy was obtained by Media Nation earlier today.

September 25, 2009

Dear Colleague,

I understand that many questions have arisen from yesterday’s e-mail from the Executive Committee regarding alleged financial impropriety by BNG President Daniel Totten.

As treasurer, I have a fiduciary responsibility, which I take very seriously. I intend to fulfill that responsibility to the fullest extent.  I assure you that the Executive Committee is asserting due diligence on this matter. Once made aware of the situation, the appropriate steps were taken to ensure the safety of your union funds.

The second order of business was to notify you. It would have been preferable to notify you, and file the charges simultaneously. But time constraints did not allow that to happen. We took the position that notification was our next priority.

We are guided in this process by the constitution of the CWA [the Communications Workers of America], our parent union. The by-laws require that charges be filed within 60 days from the time an offense becomes known.  I intend to draft the charges and file them early next week with our Recording Secretary Kathy McCabe, as required by the by-laws. We are well within the 60 day time frame. After they are filed, members will be notified of the details of the charges.

I know that there may be more questions as this process moves forward. We are working with the guidance of legal counsel from both the CWA and the BNG. We will keep you updated as more information becomes available.

In closing, I ask for your patience.

In Unity,

Patrice Sneyd,
Treasurer BNG

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  1. O-FISH-L

    I bear no ill-will to any of the parties and in fact, don’t even know them, but I wonder, is Ms. Sneyd also going to notify the local constabulary?

    Forgery, uttering a forged instrument and larceny by false pretenses are all serious felonies in MA. As for Ms. Sneyd, concealing any felon from the authorities could constitute being an accessory after the fact, a seven year felony in itself. Not sure if failure to notify the police would amount to concealing in this case, but the argument could be made.

    Although we don’t know all the facts, the union had better have a strong case to have essentially publicly labeled their President a felon. Especially if they rushed to remove him from office but never notified the authorities.

  2. lkcape

    Does the person who gave you this e-mail, Dan, have an agenda, and, if so, what is it?

    • Dan Kennedy

      (1) I assume the answer is “yes”; (2) he or she has been reliable in the past, so I’m confident the e-mail is genuine. Given that, I don’t care what his or her agenda is.

  3. It doesn’t matter what the “agenda” is … this is news, as much as anything is …

  4. lkcape

    We’ll remember your commentfor later, Dan, when you decry the use of anonymous sources.

    The best definition of news is and event that has an effect on the lives of people.

    While allegations impropriety in this union may be “news”, the corruption of union officials is anything but new.

    The question here becomes whether the leaker is seeking to bring down one set of leadership so as to rise with a new or whether the leaker is a true whistle blower.

    I suspect that more of the former is true than the latter.

    • Dan Kennedy

      Ikcape: If you’ve been following along, you know that I do not get nearly as worked up about anonymous sources as some folks do. No, you should not use anonymous sources to smear someone, and that is the one example of a practice I would speak out against. But sometimes anonymous sources are absolutely necessary.

      In this particular case, any reasonable concern over anonymity approaches zero. My sole concern was whether the e-mail was genuine, and some characteristics of the way it came to me made it clear that it was.

      I would be happy to post communications from any party in this dispute, and would especially like something from Totten’s side.

  5. lkcape

    You may wish to ask your source what his/her motivation is and post it.

    Let’s put it this way: If Totten’s alleged improprieties are, in fact, nonexistent, then the leak was clearly politically motivated and an attempt to smear.

    And if this is the case, you have been an instrument in that effort.

    • Dan Kennedy

      Ikcape: If you can’t understand the difference between posting a document that has been sent to every member of the Boston Newspaper Guild and quoting an anonymous critic of Totten’s, then I can’t help you. In fact, the source in this case is not anonymous at all — it’s Guild treasurer Patrice Sneyd. You are confusing the source with the conduit.

  6. Treg

    Comes a time when you just have to ignore the troll, Dan.

  7. InsiderNegot

    Someone with knowledge inside the Guild decided to go public as the story was published in both the Globe and the Herald. The real question for me is; how does any of this help the Guild membership? While internal squabbling exists in many unions, to have it done so publically is a disservice to the members. Whoever is responsible for taking this public, and it is unclear now who that is, put their own agenda ahead of the members’.

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