I began writing about environmental issues in the Finger Lakes in 2009, amid the first skirmishes over fracking. I brought to it more than 30 years of experience and perspective from a journalism career focused on financial, legal and political issues in Atlanta, New York City and Hartford.
Between 2010 and 2016, I wrote nearly four dozen investigative stories related to the Finger Lakes for DCBureau.org, a non-profit website based in Washington, D.C. Unfortunately, that site was shut down after being neutered by hackers. Most of those stories are no longer available online. Earlier, I had written more than a dozen environmental columns for Odessafile.com, a local website in Schuyler County, NY. One piece argued that the state needed to order an environmental impact statement for a little-publicized plan to store liquid petroleum gas (LPG) in unlined salt caverns next to Seneca Lake, touching off a seven-year controversy.
Shortly after that, the OdessaFile publisher removed all those columns without notice or public explanation, so they are also lost in cyberspace. In addition, I wrote about two dozen OP-ED opinion columns for the Corning Leader newspaper, mostly in 2012 and 2013 at the height of the fracking battles. I’ve reposted copies of all those wayward DCBureau, OdessaFile and Corning Leader stories on Water Front.
I have a BA in journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (1974) and a MA in journalism from Ohio State (1991). I split up my undergraduate years by enlisting in the U.S. Marine Corps toward the end of the Viet Nam war. After UNC, I was lucky to land a job at The Winston-Salem Journal, which had recently won the Pulitzer Public Service award (1971).
In 1983, I left North Carolina for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, where I stayed for 17 years. That newspaper nominated me for a Pulitzer Prize in 1985, 1989 and 1992, but I whiffed thrice. I have won a first place regional reporting award from the Society of Professional Journalists and other first place awards from the Associated Press, UPI and others.
My Pulitzer-nominated 1992 investigation into an international bank fraud led me to publish the non-fiction book Shell Game (St. Martin’s Press, 1995). Turns out that an obscure Atlanta branch of an Italian government-owned bank was Saddam Hussein’s primary financial channel in the West, a source for billions of dollars in secret and illegal loans for Iraqi missile, chemical and nuclear programs. The book won favorable reviews from Booklist, Library Journal, The Nation and The New York Times, which called it “smart, tenacious and uncompromised.” The National Law Journal published an excerpt, and for a while the Atlanta Public library had trouble hanging onto its copies.
At the height of the tech boom in early 2000, I left Atlanta for New York City and a job at The Daily Deal (now known as The Deal), a newspaper/website covering Wall Street and financial transactions worldwide. I was a senior editor in charge of reporters in Washington (antitrust regulation) and San Francisco (Silicon Valley). That great job came with an horrendous 4-hour round-trip daily commute, so I bailed in early 2001 to become the editor of Long Island Business News, a weekly newspaper/daily website that I ran for nearly three years.
I’ve been married to Laura, for 45 years, most of them glorious. We have three grown kids and eight-grandchildren, ranging in age from a few months to 20 (see Schuyler, 3, with me, above). After tagging along after me on journalism-driven moves for decades, Laura decided in 2004 that it was time for us to move to the Finger Lakes, where her family has had deep roots. Fair enough. Except for my eventful 11-month stint as the editor of The Hartford Business Journal (during the buildup to the 2008 financial crisis), we’ve lived within walking distance of Seneca Lake ever since.
My posts on Water Front will be based on in-depth reporting. While they will often include my opinions, I will strive to be as fair as possible to all parties involved. Have I written something you know to be incorrect or believe to be unfair? Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and let’s hash it out.