Tax story misquotes finance chair

To the Editors:

In last week’s Wilton Bulletin front-page article (“GOP Tax Plan viewed with suspicion”), I was intentionally misquoted by the reporter, Tony Spinelli, who attributed to me a quote that the GOP tax plan, “would force towns to reduce property tax.”  I never said this to Mr. Spinelli. Yet he quoted me as having said this in his article to support his story line.

Not only did I never say this, I told Mr. Spinelli in writing just the opposite — that I did NOT agree that the GOP tax plan would force towns to reduce property tax. Despite my denial, he quoted me in his article exactly the opposite of what I said because it fit his story line. Manufacturing fictitious quotes is irresponsible journalism. I have asked the Wilton Bulletin to publish both in this paper edition and its online edition a retraction of the fictitious quote attributed to me, acknowledging the erroneous and irresponsible reporting that appeared last week in the Wilton Bulletin.

And to set the record straight, I do not believe that the reduction of some itemized deductions for some Wilton taxpayers will in any way affect how we as a Town determine the appropriate level of municipal and educational services we decide to have and levy tax to support. We will go through the exact same budget process we have done for many, many years. We will not be “forced” to do anything due to some changes in itemized deductions in the federal tax code. That is what I told Mr. Spinelli in writing, who then chose to print just the opposite in his article and attribute the false and misleading quote to me. That is unacceptable and a serious breach of journalistic ethics, in my opinion.

The readers of this paper have a reasonable expectation that the articles contained in the paper represent true and honest reporting and that the attributed quotes were actually said by the person being quoted. Trust in the media is at an all-time low.  Articles like this one show that journalistic ethics need to be seriously addressed, even here in Wilton, unfortunately. I call upon the Editor of the Wilton Bulletin to investigate this matter fully and improve the editing of the articles of this paper and oversight of its reporters to be sure this type of egregious misreporting doesn’t happen again.

We have enough “Fake News” in the national press.  Let’s not have it here in Wilton as well.

Jeffrey Rutishauser

Chairman, Board of Finance

Wilton, Dec. 4