The Union columnist Boardman: shooting blanks again

The Union has long been a lapdog for our community, promoting the “old boys” network. Keeping the western county small and insular has benefitted the newspaper and the “old boys,” because they can control the message and, in their minds, influence local policymaking. It’s a selfish strategy. The internet is changing this, however.

Worse is when The Union tries to be a “watchdog.” It often just doesn’t have the “journalistic chops.” Instead, it falls back on the “don’t argue with people who buy ink by the barrel” mantra, increasingly irrelevant nowadays amid new competition.

Nowhere is this more apparent than with The Union’s weekly columnist George Boardman, who epitomizes a small-town journalist “shooting blanks.” He’s become a running joke in some circles around town because like Former Union Columnists such as Russ Steele and George Rebane (known to some locals as the “FUCs”), he’s not interested in the truth, just an ideology. (“Dumb bureaucrats” is one of Boardman’s favorite themes).

These “bureaucrats,” by the way, increasingly are asking to meet with The Union’s management to express their displeasure with the newspaper’s ignorant reporting.

For whatever reason, The Union’s “stock-in-trade” has become turning its pages over to the uninformed like Boardman, telling the rest of us “what we think we should know.” It’s why The Union’s demographics match its readers — aging and declining. George isn’t just a weekly columnist, either. He’s been a member of “The Union’s advisory board,” supposedly a brain trust for information.

Boardman’s blog this morning (promoted in this mornings print pages of The Union) is a case in point. It is titled “Bureaucrats will tell you what they think you should know” and manages to insult a whole slew of them — but without informing us. Memo to Publisher Jim Hemig: What’s the ROI on Boardman?

Insults our clerk-recorder with a “Where’s Waldo” reference

George takes aim at:

•High-school district Superintendent Louise Johnson
•High-school trustee Richard Baker
•Clerk-Recorder Gregory Diaz, whom he insulted with a caption, “Where’s Waldo.”

When it comes to the schools, George is upset that the Superintendent or Trustees won’t discuss personnel issues, though it happens to be the law. The Union lost an FOI lawsuit in a related case, costing the district $17,000 to defend.

In this instance, the handwriting is on the wall at the school district, but The Union just doesn’t like the answer. The district is struggling with issues such as longterm accreditation and declining enrollment, and it is changing management to achieve that — just like all businesses do, including The Union. Duh.

In the issue of the clerk-recorder’s office, Boardman would have been better off to just publish Diaz’ statement regarding a delay in mailing of ballots because of a printing error. It would have been more informative. The Union also has a habit of “interpreting” and getting it wrong.

Boardman also is incorrect in alleging a lack of transparency in this issue. I know this firsthand: I had the same brief discussion with the assistant-clerk recorder and got all my questions answered, including the name of the printer.

Write about the El Dorado County supe who’s on trial

Instead, Boardman ought to be picking on a “bureaucrat” such as El Dorado County Supervisor Ray Nutting, a property rights advocate and tea-party hero who also happens to be on trial for felony charges. A jury is deliberating his fate this week. Nutting faces four felony counts stemming from roughly $70,000 in state grants he was awarded to clear brush on his private property.

“The prosecution of the veteran timber rancher, a stout defender of private property rights and a hero to tea party conservatives, is revealing angry divisions within the local Republican Party faithful and deep-rooted antagonisms in a county long known for its bare-knuckled politics,” as the Bee has reported.

For its part, The Union is at a crossroads and struggling to find the talent it needs to grow its business in the age of the internet.

Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for 12 years, and he was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News for eight years, among other positions. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing, swimming, and trout fishing in the Sierra.

9 thoughts on “The Union columnist Boardman: shooting blanks again”

  1. On the other hand- Cheryl Cook wrote an excellent “Other Voices” column today about the “Hogwash” from the right. Thank You Ms. Cook!
    Jeff I don’t know how to post the article because of pay walls, but it really hits the point.

  2. BTW, here’s a rebuttal to Boardman’s Monday column that was posted on my blog, titled “Raw milk lovers won’t let science get in their way.” The Union ought to run it as an “Other Voices.” It is far more informative that what Boardman (who has no unique knowledge of this topic) wrote:
    rawmilkmike says:
    May 12, 2014 at 3:42 pm (Edit)
    Dear George Boardman, the “Old McDonald family farm” produces more food per acre than industrial farms do.

    “The promoters of raw food” don’t promote raw milk.

    Raw milk is non-partisan. These bills always pass both houses. It’s the state that is breaking the law. You can’t ban fresh milk without a constitutional amendment.

    Bills were introduced in 23 states this year to legalize unpasteurized milk under the banner of “that’s what consumers want and that’s the purpose of regulation in the first place”.

    Do you have any idea how much they charge for a raw milk license in California and how much they charge per gallon?

    If raw milk were “inherently dangerous” the state would have to determine a minimum infectious dose for all their so called foodborne pathogens.

    Here’s what the science proves. According to these 2 US government studies raw milk actually has a negative risk factor.

    1. Raw Milk Consumption among Patients with Non–Outbreak-related Enteric Infections, Minnesota, USA, 2001–2010 An estimated 1.7% per year or 1 in 59 raw milk consumers in Minnesota may have acquired an illness caused by 1 of these enteric pathogens.

    2. From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. An estimated 15% per year or 1 in 6 Americans get sick and 3,000 die each year from foodborne diseases.

    It looks like the US Center for Disease Control has inadvertently demonstrated that people who don’t drink raw milk are 9 times more likely to contract a so called foodborne illness than people that do. Or in other words raw milk prevents 1.3 million cases of foodborne disease and 90 deaths every year in the US.

  3. In the wake of this verdict (mentioned above), George Boardman is making Nutting out to be some kind of “victim.” “Convicted of only SIX misdemeanors that ‘probably won’t get him any jail time,’ so why pick on him?” is George’s rationale. OK. So pick on our local bureaucrats instead, because you don’t like the answer. BTW, I know of none here that were convicted on charges like this. In our foothills, Nutting is a case study of some of our entrenched, ideologues — in this case a hero of the tea party.

  4. Boardman’s column in The Union used to read: “Visit for more observations by George Boardman,” with a link.

    On Friday Boardman dropped the blog, but he never informed his readers at The Union in this morning’s column. He just dropped the verbiage and the link. How’s that for transparency?

    A big error in Boardman’s column this morning too: “Miller, currently the mayor of Grass Valley, has challenged Lamphier to a debate any time, any place, an invitation the incumbent has declined (he says complex issues can’t be explained in sound bites).”

    Wrong. Lamphier has debated Miller several times: at the League of Women Voters and a Tea-Party candidates forum, for example.

    Boardman and The Union should run a correction: Misinforming voters when they have their ballots in hand.


  5. Not to mention this little gem that showed up in The Union today under their “news” section but appears to be nothing more than a press release from the Miller campaign, with a tiny disclaimer that it as “submitted to The Union”.

    What the hell does that mean “submitted to The Union”? If it is news it should be news, and both candidates should be recognized and offered an opportunity to comment. If it is a press release it is a campaign advertisement and should be paid for. Which is it?

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