Our local newspaper bags ex-publisher “mini me” to write a weekly column — whoo hoo!

UnknownLess than a few days after The Union painted our community as yahoos to the world with sloppy reporting on a “Support Our Troops” sign at a church, the editor is gleefully announcing that George Boardman — a “mini me” of our ex-publisher, in style and substance — will write a weekly column each Monday.

George is a friend of Jeff Ackerman and his glory days of journalism were spent at The Union, though he might have climbed as high up the ladder as the Palo Alto Times. George’s family was involved in running The Stonehouse Restaurant in Nevada City, which closed.

He also worked in PR, often considered a “cop out” for serious journalists, at least in George’s era.

George lives in Lake of the Pines. When I read his columns, I regularly conclude that he should mingle more with Californians — on the Coast or at least in Sacramento or Tahoe.

My main complaint about George is that he’s really average, bouncing around in the minor leagues of journalism without much entrepreneurial achievement, but he pretends to be a real “know it all.”

In fact, he’s guilty of the same common journalism flaw as his friend Ackerman — “jack of all trades, master of none.”

It’s a classic “big fish, small pond” syndrome, “all hat, no cattle,” or a guy who throws rocks from the sidelines but never has won many big games.

I figure The Union brought him onboard to placate the “righty’s” of our community, who complain the new publisher is too soft compared with Ackerman. It came after a “readership survey.” On the hard-right political blogs, one reader has been speculating about another looming management shakeup.

It’s a safe move too. George also is popular with the RL Crabb contingent, many “shifters” and other community old timers. They defend him wholeheartedly, like mother hens.

It’s a big mistake if The Union ever expects to grow its readership — and a classic “inside the box,” “cul de sac” recruit. And to preserve what? The readership is aging and declining.

On George’s blog, you’ll find headlines like “Is ObamaCare on its way to becoming ObamaGeddon?”

Or “Transgender bathrooms? In elementary school?,” where he writes: “But the conservatives have it right with their latest cause, repeal of a new California law that lets transgender students choose which bathrooms and locker rooms to use, and which sports teams to join based on their gender identify.”

George also thinks Tom McClintock’s bill to salvage timber — widely criticized by knowledgeable environmentalists — “should be given serious consideration.”

You can also read George making fun of real-food author Michael Pollan when he came to town, while also belittling the sustainable food movement — even though it is gaining traction in our community.

“GM crops have helped ensure food security and bolster incomes for farmers, and better GM crops are in the pipeline. Billions of people are leading longer, healthier lives since the commercialization of GM foods over 17 year ago,” he wrote.

George also likes to bring up the old saw that healthier food costs more. “Duh”! as he would put it. “Organic? Eat a Big Mac and pocket the change,” he writes.

George likes to make fun of our County officials, referring to their “clueless comments” but again, I’d cringe to think of him executing any county responsibilities. Talk is cheap.

He also was a business writer but shows a poor understanding of Silicon Valley’s role in propelling our state economy out of the recession, using trite phrases such as “irrational exuberance.”

George makes fun of Netflix, which would have made him a bundle if he’d bought the stock instead of made fun of it.

Like Ackerman, George has a chip on his shoulder and is insecure around people who are smarter or more successful than he is.

Congratulations to The Union! It is starting off the new year taking a giant step back to the days of its ex-publisher. And drawing a smaller circle around itself.

More political battles are a brewin’

Editor’s note: This is going to be interesting. Aside from qualifying a MJ initiative (marijuana, not Michael Jackson or Michael Jordan) for the ballot, the MJ contingent is siding with the hard-right contingent: http://barrypruett.blogspot.com/2013/12/pot-supporters-v-gregory-diaz-what-is.html
Will this fodder be used against our incumbent clerk-recorder in next year’s political race? Of course.
The alliances forged around here in the name of “peace and justice” can make your head spin. Just keep your head down and “follow the money.” It’s never as altruistic as it seems.

Today, Dec 30, representatives for Americans for Safe Access delivered to the County Elections office, petitions containing 10,729 verified signatures- more than enough to qualify for a Special Election sometime next year. The standard to qualify is 9,133, but our County used “new math” to raise that number to 9,960. Thanks to all of you, we met and surpassed their threshold by almost 1,000 signatures.

Now that we have submitted more than enough signatures, we plan to contest the County’s methodology to qualify an initiative for a general or special election. The CA Election Code clearly states that the number of signatures needed to qualify an initiative for a General Election shall be based on 10% of the votes cast for the office of Governor in the last election (20% for a Special Election). Nevada County also counts “under votes” – people who chose to not vote for the office of Governor, which in this case meant we had to gather 790 additional signatures. Our hope is to spare anyone who undertakes an initiative in the future from having to meet the County’s inflated standard.

Ex-local publisher defends Phil Robertson’s homosexual comments

“Jesus Christ was nailed to a cross because he refused to keep his mouth shut,” the former publisher of The Union newspaper, now at a sister paper in Roseburg, Ore., wrote in a column this weekend.

“It seems the Roman soldiers have been replaced by the P.C. Cops, and they are waiting to nail anyone who utters an offensive word.

“Phil Robertson is just the latest casualty in the war on speech.

“Robertson is one of the stars of the popular reality television show ‘Duck Dynasty.’

“He was suspended by A&E indefinitely because he offered an opinion. In a magazine interview, Phil was asked to clarify his Christian values and he pretty much called homosexuals sinners.”

The rest of the article is here.

Another one-sided report in our local newspaper to polarize us

The Union has a front-page story titled “Nevada County church told to take down ‘Support Our Troops’ sign.”

It begins: “A Nevada County church has been commanded to remove two signs facing Highway 49, one of which simply reads “Support Our Troops” on top of an image of a United States flag.

The directive comes from the Nevada County Planning Department, which has deemed the sign “a non-conforming use and must be removed,” according to a Dec. 17 letter sent to the church’s property owner.

“(W)e have received an outpouring of compliments and support for the banners,” said Pastor Jeff Alaways of Simple Truth Church in an email to The Union.

It quotes a member of the church: “It’s really a shame because it’s a beautiful sign. Who would want to take that down?” said Robert Dougherty, a member of the church. “These guys lose their arms and legs, and we can’t even support them with a sign.”

But what about the other side? Only a few sentences are dedicated to the Planning Department’s position, without offering a chance to further explain their position and respond to the comments.

“The Union was unable to reach Foss or anyone in the county’s planning department Thursday and Friday, as most of the county’s offices were closed due to furloughs until Monday.”

It did not link to the letter, either.

This is irresponsible journalism: First, journalists should have home contact information for our officials — it’s a small town. Second, it’s all right to wait until someone can be reached in this case, in the interest of fairness. The letter has been circulating since December 17; it is not “breaking news.”

Instead, the reader is left with a one-sided understanding of the issue — and the story is on the front page, no less.

Will it become small-town political fodder? Of course.

Next up: An “Other Voices” from the Planning Department. Round and round and round we go …

How our local politics have become so polarized

Our local races are supposed to be “nonpartisan” — because most of the local issues are nonpartisan. But we’re far from that, at least in the western half of our county.

It’s unfortunate that our local political leadership doesn’t think in more “middle of the road” or compromising terms, because our county is politically diverse. The voter roles show that.

Our county also has a lot of problems that need to be addressed in a pragmatic, nonpartisan way. Sticking to a rigid ideology can cloud your decision-making process. As much as it may upset us, sometimes our favorite “like-minded” friends get it wrong.

Strident views usually don’t lead to political collaboration either; you just wind up arguing and talking past each other. You never accomplish much.

This notice is posted on the local GOP website. Here we go again in 2014:

FIRST MEETING OF THE VERY IMPORTANT 2014 ELECTION YEAR!

Plan to join the Nevada County Republican Party at its first meeting in 2014 — a very important election year! We’ll be discussing campaign activities to support Republican candidates in every local, state, and national election in both the California Primary in June and the General Election in November. The meeting will begin at 6:30 PM on Wednesday, January 8 in the Supervisors Chambers at the Nevada County Administrative Complex at 950 Maidu Ave., in Nevada City. Our special guest speaker will be Eric Christen.

Eric lives in Grass Valley. You can learn more about his views under “Eric’s views. Some examples from Eric:

•The “Global Warming Con”
•Al Gore: “A liar”
•When Socialists Run Government

” In 1999 Eric was put in charge of the signature gathering process for Proposition 22 (Defense of Marriage Act) which was overwhelmingly passed by the voters of California. In 1999 Eric was hired as the Executive Director of the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction and since then has been working to see that the rights of all California contractors, and their workers, are protected from discriminatory and unfair Project Labor Agreements (PLAs).

On Facebook Eric describes himself as “Religious Views
Evangelical Christian
Political Views
Social Conservative/Economic Libertarian”

Eric also is connected with another group “Faith Driven Consumer.” Here’s one of the letters from this group. It begins: “I am writing to you regarding your network’s intolerant, discriminatory, and punitive treatment of Mr. Phil Robertson, star of A&E’s #1 hit show, Duck Dynasty.”

So there you have it. Another local election year gets underway: one like-minded group versus the other. Let the games begin.

Blocked from commenting on The Union’s Facebook page as “like” No. 4,000 —how rude

I noticed The Union could use some help with Facebook “likes.” So at 3,999 “likes,” I clicked on their page to become No 4,000 — a milestone. It registered, but I noticed I wasn’t allowed to comment and crow about being No. 4,000. I though I might win a prize or something. (To be sure, I checked and my wife was allowed to comment from her Facebook account but not me).

So I just “unclicked” my like and now the total stands at 3,999. Could somebody else more qualified than me please click on The Union’s Facebook page and help them cross the 4K threshold. And what’s with The Union’s free-speech policy? LOL.

Before (when I was “like” #4,000):
Screen shot 2013-12-27 at 8.01.28 PM

After (when spurned from commenting, I “unliked” to bring the total back to #3,999):
Screen shot 2013-12-27 at 8.02.43 PM

(click for larger images)