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Short stands tall! Reporter gets mega-cash for dogging Vito

The Brooklyn Paper
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Aaron Short’s relentless pursuit of shenanigans inside Assemblyman Vito Lopez’s office and its charity spin-off has kept readers in thrall for years — and now it’s won a major award.

Short and Laura Nahmias, a reporter for the Capital and City Hall News, have just been named the inaugural recipients of a statewide investigative journalism competition run by New York Civic, a watchdog group founded by former Parks Commissioner Henry Stern.

Nahmias won the top prize of $2,000 for a story that uncovered several instances when Assemblyman William Boyland Jr. sought expense reimbursements for items supposedly bought in Albany when he was nowhere near the state capital.

Short was hot on her heels — and earned a cool grand — with his story, “This is supposed to be a senior center. It’s actually Vito Lopez’s clubhouse,” which ran on BrooklynPaper.com on Oct. 13, 2010 and later in the New York Post, our sister publication.

The lede of the story said it all: “A Bushwick nonprofit that gets $1 million in taxpayer dollars to provide services for seniors is instead renting out its first floor to Assemblyman Vito Lopez’s political clubhouse — and giving back some of that money in ‘consulting fees’ to the embattled lawmaker.”

The story also pointed out that Lopez, while he was an assemblyman, collected $57,600 in consulting fees from a subsidiary of the charity, though it is unclear what the money was for.

Stern’s group cited not only that story, but Short’s “ongoing investigat­ion” into the Lopez-founded charity, Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council.

“In this age of media consolidation, it is more important than ever that we vigorously support and encourage investigative journalism,” said Stern. “Laura Nahmias and Aaron Short uphold the great tradition of the media acting as watchdogs to keep politicians honest and inform the public when they are not.”

Short has been with the Community Newspaper Group since November, 2007. He is 30 years old, but is as spry as reporters six years his junior. He holds an honors undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania and a Masters from Brown University.

Short’s boss, Editor Gersh Kuntzman, was effusive in praise of his protege’s accomplishment.

“We’re always asking ourselves, ‘What’s next for Aaron?’ — and now we know,” said Kuntzman. “We couldn’t be more proud of him.”

The Mary Perot Nichols Award is named for the late muckraking Village Voice columnist.

Lopez did not return a call seeking comment, but a Lopez opponent, Democratic District Leader Lincoln Restler said, “Investigat­ive journalism is essential to a healthy democracy, and Aaron Short is the rare intrepid journalist that keeps the Brooklyn establishment on its toes.”

Reach reporter Moses Jefferson at newsroom@cnglocal.com.

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Reader Feedback

Marty Needelman from Williamsburg says:
Congrats Aaron! Very well deserved!
Nov. 22, 2011, 5:58 am
Teresa from Greenpoint says:
Never mind the praise, Gersh. Give Aaron Short a RAISE!
Nov. 22, 2011, 9:51 am
Meredith from Houston says:
Congrats Aaron! You definitely deserve this honor.
Nov. 22, 2011, 10:34 am
bill from glendale says:
GREAT JOB CONGRATES please dont stop chasing vito and his witch looking girlfriend and also that fisher woman they are crooks they are stealing our tax money please put presure on the GOVERNOR TELL HIM TO WAKE UP OH BY THE WAY VITO ALWAYS LIVED IN QUEENS THANK YOU KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK
Nov. 22, 2011, 8:03 pm
Ben from Mansfield, Ct says:
Waytago Aaron.
Nov. 23, 2011, 9:55 am
Laura from Hofmann says:
Congratulations Aaron! Well deserved. I agree with Teresa, you also deserve a raise!
Nov. 23, 2011, 1:01 pm
Jordan from UWS says:
Well done. Congrats Aaron.
Nov. 23, 2011, 1:08 pm
Ben from Greenpoint says:
king of crap except for covering Vito stores...
Nov. 23, 2011, 4:38 pm
Dennis sinneD from Williamsburg says:
Dear Mr. Short, Mr. Kuntzman and Brooklyn Paper,

With all due respect, should I be the mother——er here? I'm sorry, but the mini-skirts of some of the cheerleaders on here are too short for my tastes. Short's reporting, and BP's reporting is woefully lacking in many respects. If the award granted to Mr. Short by New York Civic is specific to his coverage of Lopez, well, that would be odd but it explains the grounds for the award--NY Civic is thus using a polemical basis for their measurement of merit and not on journalism or journalistic integrity. If that's what draws congratulations from people here so be it, but I think it is interesting that I recognize some of the names on this thread, and these are persons who have often claimed to eschew or even condemn polemics when the polemics are directed to individuals they support or their own pet projects. It's interesting that when polemics are employed against their enemies that suddenly their will and values slacken, and their pom-poms appear.

The truth of the matter is that BP and Short have chosen to black out valid and timely issues, significant and pertinent issues in their coverage area that they have claimed are insignificant and impertinent while prominently reporting the color of street signs or the nature of litter in a garbage can--while not only prominently featuring nonsense articles, but also being inconsistent with their rationale, covering events by other organizations in similar areas on similar grounds. The only discernible difference between how similar organizations have been covered by Short or BP has been race and ethnicity. Commenting on the specific topic that I am aware of that Short and BP refuse to cover would be lengthy and redundant, and it seems that the problem is not confined to the particular topic but to issues of race and ethnicity.

My respectful wish is that Mr. Short and BP re-examine the basis for their "black out" [ahem] of certain demographics in Williamsburg and issues germane to them, not the least being the gentrification of the Southside. While BP does not specifically address the issue of gentrification with any vigor, at least it reports on topics and issues in other neighborhoods where gentrification is preeminent, such as Ratner and the manifold development in downtown Brooklyn. That allows BP's readers to weigh in on the subject, and when they do, their contribution is often and sadly more meaningful than the journalism they weigh on. Do the same with Williamsburg. If you personally disagree with a development or topic in a neighborhood, then let the controversy play out in your coverage with reader participation--don't suppress the issue because you feel slighted. That is not integrity. That is FoxNews. Then again, this paper is sibling to NY Post.

Sincerely,
Dennis sinneD
Nov. 24, 2011, 10:13 am
Dennis sinneD from Williamsburg says:
Just for due diligence, from http://nycivic.org/about-us

"New York Civic is a nonprofit, nonpartisan good government group that aims to advance political reform in the city and state of New York through education, community outreach, social networking, and grassroots activism. Our goal is to bridge the partisan divide that often obstructs the political process and prevents the passage of desirable reform legislation. We seek to be an independent, moderate voice of reason in a political arena increasingly polarized by extremism.

Founded in 2002 by former NYC Parks Commissioner and Councilman-at-large Henry J. Stern, New York Civic has spent the last nine years advocating reform for the people of New York State, while building a community of over 12,000 citizens interested in implementing good government reforms. Moreover, as a public policy think tank, New York Civic has published over 700 articles directed at making government more honest, efficient, and effective."

On this basis, the award is consistent with NY Civic's mission and is not an agenda against Lopez. This addresses NY Civic's end of the award, but does not explain the BP end.

And here is the blog for NY Civic, if anyone is interested:
http://nycivicblog.blogspot.com/
Nov. 24, 2011, 10:33 am
Kim from Greenpoint says:
Dennis.after all that's what people like don't you get it?
Nov. 24, 2011, 10:49 am
Dennis sinneD from Williamsburg says:
I'm sorry, I can't get "it" when sentences are poorly constructed. And I don't get "it" just because other people do. That's servile and slavish and sheepish and I don't suggest you like things just because other people do and that you actually use your mind constructively and critically.
Nov. 24, 2011, 11:13 am
Dennis sinneD from Williamsburg says:
Just in case "critical" is misconstrued, as it usually is here and other places [especially in areas where persons have fancied themselves above reproach such as those encroached upon by gentrification]:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Critical_thinking

And recently I've been reading Nietzche's Thus Spake Zarathustra and love his observations on "overcoming" and "going under" that are germane to critical thinking. I highly recommend:
http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/1998
Nov. 24, 2011, 12:30 pm

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