During my (mercifully short-lived) tenure as an editor at the Advocate, at the top of my list of pet peeves were sloppy mistakes, the kind that make editors and reporters slap their foreheads and then scramble for a hole to crawl into.
Ironically, and also mercifully, when I’ve made my own bonehead reporting errors, my editors have always adopted a more forgiving attitude than I was ever able to dredge up, perhaps because they know that no stern lecture they could subject me to could top my inner self-flagellation (which at least one of my colleagues attributes to my years of Catholic school),
The latest gaffe that’s been causing me no end of agita: in a recent blog post, I mistakenly wrote that former state Rep. Chris Asselin first won the 9th Hampden District seat by defeating Nick Fyntrilakis, a former fellow aide to Dennis Murphy, who’d previously held the seat. Asselin, of course, made all kinds of news, and inspired all kinds of political jokes, this election season by entering the race to win back his old seat, after having served time in federal prison for, among other crimes, accepting bribes from contractors who worked for his father at the Springfield Housing Authority.
In fact, Asselin first took the seat by defeating one-term Rep. Jack Keough, who’d immediately succeeded Murphy, in the 2001 Democratic primary. Fyntrilakis had come in second to Keough in the 1999 Democratic primary, and had filed a lawsuit over those results, claiming “irregularities,” including that classic of Massachusetts electoral politics: votes cast in the name of dead people.
Fyntrilakis eventually dropped his suit, although not after much drama and bickering and political intrigue. How I managed to forget all that is beyond me, although I suspect it might be my first “senior moment.”
Fyntrilakis was the one, in fact, who called me to point out my error. And to his great credit, he was quite gracious about having been wrongfully portrayed in a position I’m sure he’d never want to find himself: losing to Chris Asselin.