The Union’s columnist Boardman: unclear what “proactive” government means

As regular readers here know, The Union stepped in proverbial “you know what” when it hired George Boardman as its weekly columnist. It seems to be aimed at hanging on to its core demographic — aging and declining — at the expense of gaining new readers. Like some former publishers, George is using his weekly column as a “bully pulpit,” speaking largely for himself. He’s also ill informed and out of touch. It’s proven to be an unproductive exercise — worse than I thought.

The stakes keep getting higher for The Union too in its challenge to grow revenues and readership. In its latest cost-cutting move, the newspaper plans to outsource its printing “off the hill” to the Sacramento Bee — for the first time in 150 years. “Contact the Bee promptly with any shortages,” states the job description for a “dock supervisor” that is now posted on its website. The Union needs to figure out how to grow its business faster.

So along comes George Boardman. Does he “delight” or “inform” readers? Nope. His errors of fact or errors of omission are pointed out here, but don’t take my word for it. Just read the letters about how he’s misinformed on GMOs and organic food here and here. One excerpt: “The Stanford study Boardman cites is a very controversial study because it ignored all the studies that found organic foods to be more nutritious with fewer chemicals, antibiotics and pathogenic microbes.”

Or how about the Bridgeport Bridge? “Our elected officials have demonstrated leadership from day one in our community’s efforts to save the Bridgeport Covered Bridge. That is why we must respectfully disagree with Mr. George Boardman’s recent editorial to the contrary,” writes Douglas Moon, chair of the “Save our Bridge Campaign.”

Yet George kept it up, and he generated this recent response from Supervisor Hank Weston: “George Boardman’s column on Monday containing the header ‘Read the Agenda’ was inaccurate and requires me to respond not only to you about your facts, but to defend the many citizen volunteers who attended the budget hearing in support of accelerating the funding for the restoration of the Bridgeport Covered Bridge.”

Both electeds “doing the right thing,” at least in this case

Now this morning George pits “electeds” against each other (at least in his own mind). He writes that Grass Valley Mayor Jason Fouyer is being “proactive” because he attended a meeting to create a large western Nevada County recreation center. Then he calls that “quite a contrast” to Supervisor Ed Scofield, who recently wrote that leadership means “finding the funding” and leadership needs to come from “organizations and citizens with the passion to create the vision.” (Scofield was responding to a Boardman column in a polite fashion).

George shows a real misunderstanding of the process, not to mention an ongoing petulant tone. In short, what Fouyer and Scofield are doing and saying are not mutually exclusive. They both are doing the “right thing,” at least in this case.

Like Fouyer, Scofield also attends meetings to help build collaboration. And like Scofield, Fouyer also would support the need for “finding the funding” and finding “true leadership” from the organizations involved. There is no difference between the two styles — and the funding part is the hardest “nut to crack.”

George also is off base about the Rood Center’s role in community decision making, as shown by the response from the “Save Our Bridge” participants, ranging from Doug Moon to Hank Weston. In fact, the “Save our Bridge” campaign was one of the most nonpartisan acts of collaboration I can remember for our western county. It’s widely praised, from conservatives and progressives alike in our community.

Scoop: Supes to announce measure to extend library tax

Since it’s the start of a new week, here’s a “scoop” that further suggests that our electeds, including the supervisors, can be “proactive,” to use Boardman’s words. My sources tell me that the supervisors, or at least one of them, will soon announce a plan for a measure to extend the county library tax — known as “Measure C.” It would be up the voters to decide.

I’d support that. The money will be well spent: to continue to support our libraries throughout the county. The Madelyn Helling Library also has a collaborative technology center, showing that it is keeping up with the times. Measure C was originally passed by Nevada County voters in 1998 for five years, and was passed again in 2002 for a 15-year extension. The eighth-cent library tax is set to expire on September 30, 2018. Some background is here.

In addition, the money also could help fund a community recreation center in Penn Valley, which will include a library. So in fact, this eighth-cent tax could help address “finding the funding.”

This goes well beyond attending a meeting to show collaboration and leadership. It’s proactive too.

It is time for The Union to rethink its one-year-old experiment with George Boardman as a weekly columnist. It just isn’t working out. We are neither being “informed” nor “delighted.” And he just can’t get his facts straight. It merely undermines the newspaper’s credibility when it needs to be bolstering its readership.

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.

5 thoughts on “The Union’s columnist Boardman: unclear what “proactive” government means”

  1. Haven’t seen a lot of ‘collaboration’ from Scofield on the Emigrant Trail. The whole community has been robbed of the use of the trail in the interest of a very few in the communities that the trail passes through.

  2. That one is pretty complex, since it involves property rights. Perhaps Boardman should “explore” that one. LOL.

  3. Yep.. pretty complex. I wonder if any of the Supervisors that were on the board when it was agreed upon are still alive. I wonder if they realized it would not open until their grandkids or great grandkids were around to see it. The easement was put there before there were any property owners within the confines of the three subdivisions. Another example of the ‘Circle Of Stupid’ in Nevada County?

  4. “Property rights” seems to reign supreme in our western county. It has been a political argument that is used over and over again. It is an issue that is at the center of the urban-rural divide in our state. I’ve seen it used by both “sides” — CABPRO, yes, but also the pro-Measure S crowd.

    BTW, here’s Ed Scofield’s response to George Boardman’s earlier column (the one Boardman is defending this week):—January-2015.aspx
    In it, Ed states: “In a recent editorial in The Union, it was suggested that the Board of Supervisors take a leadership role in the creation of a new Community Center. This suggestion was based on Penn Valley’s efforts for a community center, NEO’s desire and plans for a youth center, and the long time desire for a new performing arts center. … So where do we start? I’ve met with our (Bear River) Recreation and Park District to review their plan, and I’ll follow up with county departments for advisement on steps to be taken. Supervisor Weston is well aware of Penn Valley’s efforts for a new Community Center, and NEO has met with most of the Supervisors on their quest for a new youth center. I’m sure Supervisor Anderson is well aware of Truckee’s library needs;”

    For whatever reason, George Boardman did not mention any of this in his column.

    1. Jeff- Thanks for the support of the library. We were just there last Friday, and I am always struck by how lucky we are to have such a beautiful “Natural Resource”, and how deserving it is of our support.

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