Herald having difficulty covering itself

It’s a good thing we’re a two-newspaper town — especially when one of those two papers is the subject of a very public libel lawsuit.

The Herald reports today that a superior court judge has thrown out a defamation lawsuit against Micki Delp, the ex-wife of former Boston frontman Brad Delp. Brad Delp’s former bandmate, Tom Scholz, had sued Micki Delp over comments she’d made in the Herald’s Inside Track column shortly after Brad Delp’s 2007 suicide. The column intimated that tensions between Scholz and other former Boston members drove Brad Delp to take his life. Scholz responded by suing Micki Delp for defamation, and the Herald for libel.

The defamation and libel cases were being jointly litigated, but last week, a superior court judge tossed out the defamation complaint against Micki Delp. The judge ruled that Micki Delp’s comments to the Inside Track weren’t defamatory, and never even mentioned Scholz by name. The Herald has been covering the lawsuit in depth, and today the paper devotes a full page to the ruling, including quoting Micki Delp’s attorney as saying the lawsuit “should never have been brought.”

Dan Kennedy notes that, far from exonerating all involved, the ruling appears to put the Herald’s writers on questionable legal ground.

The ruling dismissed all claims against Micki Delp because, the judge found, it was the structure of the Herald’s story, and not Delp’s actual quotes, that “create[d] the connection … and the possible implication that Scholz was responsible for the ‘dysfunction,’ and thus, Brad’s suicide.”

In tossing aside Scholz’s complaint against Micki Delp, the court in its ruling focused legal liability on the Herald for “possibly seeking to create a connection between Scholz and Brad’s suicide.” The Herald doesn’t note this fact until the eleventh paragraph in its story today.

In its story on the decision, the Globe notes that the Herald “remains a target” of Scholz’s lawsuit. It does so in the story’s second sentence. 

                                                                                                                                                    –PAUL MCMORROW  

BEACON HILL

Gov. Deval Patrick’s top economic aide is warning lawmakers they must give consideration to the state’s federally recognized tribes as they craft a bill to legalize casino gambling. Here’s the Globe account.

Quincy Mayor Thomas Koch, who hired former state Lottery director Mark Cavanaugh as the city’s finance director, yesterday came to the defense of another Lottery expatriate and City of Presidents resident, Alfred Grazioso, who was allegedly fired from his position as chief of staff for trying to thwart an investigation.

Backers of an assisted suicide bill are looking to gather enough signatures to place a referendum on the 2012 ballot to place the question before voters.

A bill allowing the state to collect sales taxes from online retailers emerges from a legislative committee. Assuming the bill clears the Legislature, it would still need federal action.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

A candidate for mayor in Methuen has called on Gov. Deval Patrick to declare a state of emergency in Lawrence and bring in the National Guard after the most recent outbreak of violence in the neighboring city.

Danvers selectmen schedule a hearing on the influx of homeless families into local motels, the Salem News reports.

Springfield passes tough new anti-foreclosure laws including fining lenders who fail to provide mediation to distressed homeowners.

CommonWealth examines what impact the Downtown Boston Business Improvement District is having.

A Gloucester Times review of the city’s Fire Department time sheets found not one of the department’s July shifts fully reported for work. The Times reported yesterday that the department has already exhausted more than one-quarter of its overtime budget just one month into the fiscal year.

A Dartmouth charter commission is recommending sweeping changes in the way town government operates, including consolidating and eliminating some boards, expanding daily operations under the executive administrator and giving the Select Board hiring power for all town department heads.

The Lowell City Council installs new procedures after a clerk is accused of stealing $1,500 earlier this year, the Lowell Sun reports.

A Swampscott bylaw that prohibits “moveable” and portable front lawn signs is causing problems for the town’s building inspector and angering some local contractors who use the signs on a job as a way to draw business.

Some Worcester residents caught between a rock and a hard place — sort of — are asking permission to shovel snow from their sidewalks into a nearby river embankment because the only other alternative is out onto the street, which is prohibited by state and local law.

Tornado-damaged businesses reopen in Monson.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

Time asks whether the Tea Party’s power has already peaked.

The Springfield Republican applauds the Obama administration’s new look immigration policies designed to target criminals, while The MetroWest Daily News says undocumented people without criminal records should be allowed to do something useful, like work legally.

ELECTION 2012

The National Review has the five reasons U.S. Rep Paul Ryan decided against entering the GOP race for president, none of which include he might not win.

While many conservatives and Republicans have been beating President Obama up for his Martha’s Vineyard vacation, the Nantucket Inquirer and Mirror reports Sen. Scott Brown has been as ubiquitous on the island this summer as lightship baskets.

Mitt Romney says he’ll see President Obama’s planned jobs speech and raise it with his own in September.

NECN’s Jim Braude wonders what clue Romney has that others don’t about tearing down his La Jolla, California mansion to build something five times bigger as he tries to connect with the masses.

The Massachusetts Black and Latino Legislative Caucus throws its support behind Setti Warren’s US Senate bid.

Republican presidential hopefuls have a muted response to the unraveling of the Qaddifi regime in Libya, inviting a scolding from the Wall Street Journal editorial page.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Governing magazine wonders if tax holidays, while popular with consumers, are good public policy especially when they are held during back-to-school times when people are apt to buy anyway.

A zombie police drama prepares to take advantage of the state’s film tax credit.

The New York Times editorial page backs New York’s attorney general, over the White House, in a standoff over a proposed national foreclosure settlement. The foreclosure settlement talks come as mortgage delinquencies are on the rise again.

EDUCATION

WBUR’s Radio Boston discusses whether unpaid student loans could trigger the next economic crisis.

Boston isn’t the only city in the state that gets a boost from returning students. Worcester businesses are eagerly awaiting the return of 35,000 students who attend the area’s dozen colleges and universities to pump some life into the city’s economy.

Jim Stergios of the Pioneer Institute ponders the “top-down” education reform strategy of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

HEALTH CARE

WBUR reports Beth Israel Deaconness Medical Center could have hit on a radical approach to health care cost containment: a price list.

TRANSPORTATION

Boston Biker blog reports the MBTA is installing newer and better bike racks at area stations for its Pedal and Park program. Via Universal Hub. The T’s CFO, Jonathan Davis, will become the agency’s interim head when current T GM Richard Davey moves into the top spot at MassDOT.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

A private developer is planning to build the state’s largest solar plant along Route 3 in Westford, a $23 million, 4.5-megawatt project that will produce enough energy to power 600 homes.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Police around the US are combining old fashioned tactics with social media savvy in the effort to curb flash mob behavior.

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno plans to unveil new tactics in the fight against youth and gang violence. The city has experienced 13 murders so far this year.

MEDIA

The New York Times and WNYC launch SchoolBook, a website for news, data, and conversation about New York City schools. The Nieman Journalism Lab notes it will also be meter-free.

Howard Kurtz on the gotcha game and why all the political whining is off base (from The Daily Beast).

9/11

The Globe reports on the final year of a summer camp for children who lost parents during the September 11th attacks.