New Canaan Patch Editor Plays Favs for RTC Chairman O’Hora

This story has been updated because the AOL Patch editor is upset his own emails caught him in a lie and thinks he needs police protection

Original Text

New Canaan’s rookie Patch editor, Paul Devlin, is already playing favorites with an elected member of the town’s Republican committee and has even agreed to delete comments posted on Patch for him.

Around noon today, New Canaan RTC Chairman James O’Hora sent an email to Devlin asking for comments made publicly by Roy Abramowitz (RTC Treasurer) to be removed on a Patch story about the Wilton teens stealing the NC High School flag because he claimed Abramowitz was trying to seek revenge against him for winning Chairmanship of the RTC.

Abramowitz, a CPA and outspoken member of New Canaan’s Republican Party, was expressing frustration at the Patch for their sensational coverage of a high school prank that led to the arrest of two teens. His comment was trying to direct the editor’s attention to another drama brewing inside the RTC over O’Hora and a member of the town council who according to Abramowitz publicly disparaged his junior high school daughter to gain an edge during the local RTC elections.

Around noon today O’Hora wrote to Patch’s Devlin:

“Roy is referring to myself and Penny Young in his comment and it has no relevance to the article and it’s actually untrue and just a rant!

FYI…Roy was a member of the New Canaan Republican Town Committee and he ran for re-election in January at our caucus; and he was unsuccessful. He lost!

So he is trying to blame others for his defeat and exact revenge by making these type of comments. I believe numerous people have flagged the comment as inappropriate yet it still remains.”

Within 20 minutes Devlin responded:

“James,
Thank you for your note. It’s been removed.
Paul”

Meanwhile, Roy noticed the comment was taken down and tried to post another one which read:

“I would appreciate knowing why my post concerning the bullying of a 12 year student by a NC political party officer and senior female Town Council member who are hypocrites concerning civility was deleted. It is the truth and more important than a sportsman prank concerning a banner. I guess the political machine does not care. Appalling.”

Now here’s where it gets weird. Devlin proactively emails Roy after deleting his second comment saying:

“We don’t like to post comments with accusations that are unsubstantiated and cast a wide net over a certain group.
If you’d like to elaborate further and want us to look into your claim,
please let us know. “

The two ended up having a phone call and according to Roy he asked Devlin if O’Hora asked him to take the comment down and Devlin said “NO it was an edit choice by the Patch”. When I reached Devlin by phone this evening he also commented on the record that O’Hora hadn’t requested the comment removed. I then let him know I’d been forwarded emails of his exchange with O’Hora so how could he deny this? Devlin got flustered and then said on the record Patch doesn’t comment on its editorial decisions. Oh Boy – talk about being caught in a lie for what down the road could look like a pay-for-play between a local editor and a leader of the New Canaan Republican party. I can’t even speculate on Devlin’s motive since he hung up while I was asking him why he’d do this.

Now this is not the first time O’Hora took aim at Abramowitz. I confirmed last Spring when Roy appeared in a News Channel 12 editorial pertaining to Governor Malloy’s then state tax proposals, O’Hora contacted the station’s edit staff and ranted about Abramowitz’s appearance. Apparently he was little bothered by the fact that Roy was speaking as a member of the New Canaan RTC (At the time of the TV interview Roy held an elected RTC position so O’Hora’s complaint didn’t really add up).

I was able to reach O’Hora this evening who admitted he asked Devlin to take the comment down. O’Hora’s only on record comment about the event was, “I am chairman of the committee and Roy is not longer an elected official. My dealings with Roy are over.” (Roy holds his RTC position of Treasurer until March 12th so O’Hora actually still works with him as Roy is the only RTC member who can sign on the group bank account.)

O’Hora when questioned didn’t hide from the fact he made the comment removal request so why did the editor, Paul Devlin, feel the need to lie to his reader and another journalist? Roy didn’t actually name O’Hora or 20-yr town council vet Penny Young in his Patch comments but did attempt to indirectly describe them. The comment also wasn’t talking about a ‘group’ which Devlin uses as an excuse for removal – Roy was specifically talking about the actions of two people in public office. I find it hard to believe the Patch editor took the time to independently figure out if Roy’s comments were also unsubstantiated. How could he – he didn’t even call or email Roy until after he removed his comment the second time? Roy used his full name to express his views which thank goodness in this country the First Amendment allows.

Patch editors publicly state they want an open dialog from their readers (and by the way it really helps their page views when locals get all vocal on their site and spit out a running comment debate. You see Fortune pointed out this week- they are in desperate need of page views to garner ad rev which is in the tank). So when we see an AOL publication like Patch playing favs to remove a comment talking about a real political down and dirty drama going on it just smells like bad journalism. If you want to understand more about the shady editorial ethics at Patch, my fellow journalist over at Business Insider have done a bang up job on reporting out their editorial issue from plagiarism to holding news reports to appease advertisers for over a year.

The personal fight between O’Hora and Abramowitz that involved Roy’s daughter getting questioned by school officials during the time they were running for RTC elections is actually quite an interesting political drama that I think our local papers should try to interview out and report on. O’Hora told me he wasn’t going to comment on it but Roy said he’s open to an interview should any New Canaan reporter want to run with it.

As far as Devlin goes – Journalism 101 – don’t lie to your readers about simple things like comment removal because it makes them question what else you’re not telling them. And lying to a professional journalist like myself, with a seasoned track record of investigative reporting for most major publications, is just downright stupid.

Patch Editor Paul Devlin working at New Canaan Library 2-19-2012

UPDATE 2-20-12: I have been notified by NCPD, Officer Micena, that Patch editor Paul Devlin has filed a claim of harassment for the content of this story and is using the NCPD to tell me that I can not call him. Really Paul? So apparently the Patch editor doesn’t want to be contacted for further comment on any stories I might write about Patch or their editorial decisions.
The email quoted in this story between Devlin/O’Hora was forwarded to me by a source who said they saw Devlin’s Gmail account because he left it open at the New Canaan Library where he at times works from on a public computer. A fact Devlin and O’Hora were both made aware of when I called them for comment. Paul and I as journalists are both considered public figures and I find it odd that he is trying to use the NCPD to stop me from following journalistic standards to call him for comment on a story. I have not been charged for any wrong doing in expressing my first amendment rights in this story so it’s unclear if this is the NCPD bullying a journalist or a local editor afraid of what other facts I might’ve uncovered.

2-22-12: Top media blogger, Jim Romenesko, wrote about the Patch editor’s NCPD complaint today. Devlin’s gone radio silent and wouldn’t comment for Romenesko. As of 9 p.m. Patch has now listed their regional floating editor, Chandra Johnson Greene, as New Canaan’s editor. It’s unclear if Devlin was fired as editor or just removed from his title as a public relations tactic by AOL and still allowed to report for another Patch town.

Editors Note: For readers from New Canaan who are new to my byline I suggest you check out my about page. I am an internationally known freelance investigative financial journalist who lives in New Canaan. At times when I see a local story that needs reporting and is being ignored by our local papers I will report on the issues here.

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Comments

  1. You rock Teri. But getting New Canaan papers to cover the shit that happens in the RTC is likely above their pay grade. Plus if they reported the truth they might get ads pulled from all the Republican business owners.

  2. There is a much bigger story here about the Republican Party in CT at the local level – the untrustworthiness of those in power.

    Let me give you one example close to New Canaan – in Darien. Why hasn’t Darien Times or Darien Patch published a story on the fact that the current RTC Chairman, Robert D. Bewkes, was a co-defendant in a complaint filed by the SEC in 2004 for violating insider trading and anti-fraud statutes. Easily verified here:

    http://www.sec.gov/litigation/complaints/comp18658.htm

    he was eventually barred from the Securities industry for five years and had to disgorge the losses he avoided. He is now a realtor in Darien.

    How in the world did he become RTC Chairman? Why isn’t the public aware of it? Should these people be leading local parties? Why are these not highlighted in the online and print media?
    Julie T.

    • Good Question Julie – a public official’s background should be reported and printed when a paper is writing about his work in the town. Do you know if the local Darien papers have been show Bewkes SEC violations so they could report it? Unfortunately most local reporters/editors have zero training understanding how Wall Street and high finance work so they shy away from writing or researching a subject they aren’t versed in. I worked for Hearst CT Newspapers (Greenwich Time) who owns your weekly Darien paper and realized it’s just a sad fact about our local coverage.

      • Somebody must have now ordered the Darien Times to write something about it. It’s posted here:

        http://www.darientimes.com/news/darien-features/local-news/5002377-dariens-gop-leader-was-cited-by-sec.html

        It is very sloppy and reads like an attempt to whitewash the seriousness of the issue and protect Bewkes and the Republicans. How else to explain why the reporter didn’t even mention that the SEC settlement barred him from the securities industry for five years? Readers would want to know that.

        Instead, they cite it sounds like since he may have done something but since the amount involved was ‘only’ $67,000, it’s OK.

        It seems when it comes to Republicans, New Canaan isn’t the only town not getting the truth from its papers.

        • It also shows the Hersam owned paper took notice of your comment Julie and that means you made an impact. Good Job. It is interesting that a paper owned by New Canaan’s town treasurer (an elected Republican) picked up on the Bewkes news – where is the Darien Patch or Hearst CT Newspapers on Bewkes SEC ban?

          • This is now a big story on Darien Patch and on the front page of the Darien News:

            http://darien.patch.com/articles/darien-gop-chair-banned-in-2004-from-finance-industry

            The State GOP chairman was emailed by Darien News and asked to comment but no response by Friday.

            Both Darien and New Canaan GOP have big image problems.

          • Good Job in creating awareness Julie and getting some of the facts noticed about your RTC Chair! It’s kind of sad it took my readers speaking out about the issue first to get the Darien papers to finally report it but then it shows how well read this site is and how important my readers voice is.

  3. William Jenkins says:

    Just about every “Patch” blog I’ve ever read or heard about does the same thing, they play favorites and leave comments they agree with and delete comments that they don’t like or are critical of them.

    These “Patch” sites are not real journalism and are pretty much a joke and shouldn’t be taken seriously by anyone.

    “Patch” is a creation of AOL which is a company with a pretty pathetic track record of just about everything they get involved with. They’re too cheap to hire real journalists so they find incompetent liars like this Paul Devlin guy and they create messes like this.

    O’Hora also doesn’t understand that the January caucus doesn’t “elect” Town Committee members. The caucus only endorses people for the top line on the primary ballot with is held on the first Tuesday in March. If others don’t put up a challenge slate or slates then the endorsed candidates are deemed to be elected. He really should understand the state laws before he makes wrong statements.

    O’Hora also sounds like the type of guy who complains that a comment on a “Patch” blog in “inappropriate” just because he doesn’t agree with the opinion of the person who made the comment and he seems to have the “sore winner” mentality when he makes comments about Mr. Abramowitz like:

    “he ran for re-election in January at our caucus; and he was unsuccessful. He lost!”

    That’s grade-school, immature “Ha, ha, I WON and you LOST!” garbage that someone who is the Chairman of the New Canaan RTC absolutely should NOT be engaging in. Sound to me like the New Canaan RTC needs new leadership who will unite the party instead of continuing to divide it.

  4. Dave Barnes says:

    My biggest reaction to this is: New Canaan has a Patch page and Denver, CO does not. WTF?!

    • Teri Buhl says:

      I was told a few months ago Devlin even went to a local New Canaan lawyer to see if he could sue me because he said ‘that photo made him look fat’. The lawyer explained why he had no case and wouldn’t take it.

  5. Please investigate nc library where the director is making major decisions without trustee approval. Board members will be hard to find as they are in hiding. Question the use of taxpayer money and donations also.

  6. Every time I come here I am not disappointed. Nice post.

  7. AOL patch story ruined my life.

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