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Tales from the compost pile
BY DAN KENNEDY

On Tuesday, the Boston Globe reported that Emmet Hayes, the husband of state treasurer and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Shannon O達rien, an ex officio member of the board that governs the Water Pollution Abatement Trust, could have benefited from a proposal O達rien made two years ago. O達rien wanted to increase the amount of public money that local officials could borrow in order to build water-treatment facilities. Hayes, an ex穆tate rep who was then a lobbyist, represented several contractors who stood to receive substantial goodies from the extra $380 million that O達rien wanted to free up. Ultimately, the plan was rejected by the Water Pollution Abatement Trust.

It was an interesting wrinkle, though you壇 have to connect a lot of dots to show that O達rien did anything improper. Indeed, the Globe duly reported her aides claim that the state痴 Ethics Commission had cleared O達rien of conflict-of-interest concerns in connection with her business before the water trust.

But it also turned out to be old news: the Boston Herald had reported essentially the same story on November 30, 2000.

Now, it痴 hardly surprising that tales carrying a whiff of possible wrongdoing get recycled around election time. But still, the Globe took what was essentially a two-year-old story and played it on the front page as though it were a spanking-new revelation.

Rick Klein, the Globe State House reporter who wrote the piece, says he and his editors were both aware of the Herald story, but decided there was no need to credit the Herald because he did his own reporting and managed to advance it. " I think that because the story was an attempt to look broader and it went in more depth at the issue, I don稚 think that crediting a two-year-old story was necessary, " he says. " What痴 the argument in favor of doing it, really? "

Cosmo Macero, who wrote the original Herald piece, declined to criticize Klein, but did offer this: " Here痴 an idea: let痴 hear less about the tired Emmet Hayes angle, and a little more about the platoon of still-active lobbyists and Beacon Hill pols who are salivating at the thought of Shannon O達rien in the corner office. It痴 like friggin Christmas in October for these guys. "

And in fact, the Globe did just that on Wednesday, after Macero made his remarks, with a front-page story by Stephanie Ebbert reporting that O達rien has received more than $16,000 in campaign contributions from lobbyists, six times what Romney has received. The Herald ran a similar story on September 4, before the primaries. But the Globe draws the distinction between O達rien and Romney much more sharply than the Herald did. In any event, when a campaign is down to its final days, everything old becomes new again.

Issue Date: October 24 - 31, 2002
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