Why isn’t The Union digging deeper to reveal “anonymous” in Lamphier case?

We are supposed to count on The Union to inform us what’s going on in our community, and the newspaper’s management would like us to believe it is a serious newspaper.

In the Terry Lamphier case, The Union wrote a news story and an editorial — yes, an editorial — before charges were even filed in the case. The newspaper obviously thought it was on a “hot trail” — uncharacteristic for a newspaper that typically waits for a press release handout.

As it turned out, the feds kicked the case back to our local jurisdiction, where it is now.

While hot on Lamphier’s trail, The Union filed an FOI request to gain access to the content on his computer — and made a big point about this.

But since then, The Union has been underreporting this case. More and more people in our community are suspecting the case was largely politically motivated — not an altruistic motive. It effectively cost Lamphier a voice in local government, including, at least in his words, opposition to big development.

More people in our community justifiably want to know who “anonymous” is. It’s a small-town version of the quest for “deep throat” in Watergate, which also helped our understanding of that case.

“The anonymous person has been positively identified (admitting to a sheriff investigator on record),” Lamphier wrote in a comment on this blog.  “He has an unsuccessful history of attempting to bring me down as I have opposed his big developer friends and their projects.

“I would love to say more but have withdrawn from public view due to sensationalism associated with this situation. Too bad I never received this kind of coverage with all the good things I did in office.”

In the Supervisor’s race, Lamphier was outspoken in questioning the proposed Dorsey Drive shopping center. The project applicant has been politically active himself.

An FOI request to the Sheriff’s Office and the DAs office might turn up “anonymous” — and help us better understand whether this case was politically motivated or not.

In the past week, hard-right political activists such as Barry Pruett (who donated money to Lamphier’s opponent in the Supervisor race) and Don Bessee have come to The Union’s defense in this case, with some flawed logic. They are deflecting the real question: The Union is our newspaper of record in our community, and it is not following through to find “anonymous.”

I also wonder why they bothered to comment at all. What is their motive to speak out on The Union’s behalf?

The Union got the ball rolling with its reporting on the Lamphier case well before any charges were filed. Why won’t it follow through? It’s a reasonable and appropriate question. And so far, the silence is disturbing.

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 SierraCulture.com. Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for years, was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News, and was Editor of The Union, a 145-year-old newspaper in Grass Valley. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing and trout fishing.

17 thoughts on “Why isn’t The Union digging deeper to reveal “anonymous” in Lamphier case?”

      1. The “anonymous” was walking the halls of Rood Center, in the dark. They tripped and fell face first on a government keyboard and it sprang to life with pictures of bad stuff, so they came into the Rodd Center, later, in a hoodie I guess, and dropped off “evidence” of this crime?

  1. You make a good argument, Jeff.
    I do believe that Terry was set up but I’m not sure what the reasons are for The Union not reporting on who anonymous is. Especially when there’s some bragging in the community about knowing who anonymous is. Suspicion of the Union appears to be mounting. For once I wish I could appreciate Oscar Wilde’s oxymoron “The suspense is killing me. I hope it lasts.” Not happy about what’s happened to a good member of our community, Terry Lampier.

  2. My problem with The Union coverage of this case was the way it reported it from the beginning. 90% if the original article was fine but the other 10% is where their political bias comes into play. Since I cannot pull up the article I cannot give the examples but they had to do with speaking with the neighbor and speculating on the comings and goings of the Lamphier house.

    On the anonymous informant, it seems to me that this is a legal issue at this point. Could exposing anonymous be considered interfering in an open investigation or the law? If or when Terry is found innocent I hope the anonymous person is held legally accountable.

  3. Ben,
    You never know what the records might hold, which is the reason for filing an FOI request. The odd part is that The Union acted aggressively (like a bulldog) on this story at the beginning and now it is acting like a “lamb.” Why?

    1. Jeff,
      My guess is the election is over and Lamphier isn’t on the city council, their political job is done. Once again my knowledge of law and journalism is very limited so I do not know how all these pieces fit into the puzzle. I’m just waiting for Terry’s day in court so more information is out and he can talk freely about the issue. I’m sure there are some very interesting details that will be left out of everything since they cannot help or hurt the cases presented in court.

      1. Pieces that fit into the puzzle. It’s those pieces that have me worried most. The names that are tossed around seem to always be the same, and I don’t understand how those people seem to be so powerful. I’ve heard the rumors, and I’ve also heard names, so I have to ask as well – where’s the power of the press to set things straight?

      2. A shot at an answer is a question: Why would a right leaning paper not protect it’s like minded readers and friend in social circles? Not saying that is helpful and nobody knows if the answer depends on who you ask.

  4. My name is Keith Overbey and I am the Foreman of the 2014-2015 Nevada County Civil Grand Jury. I read with interest the comments and concerns by Mr. Walker and Mr. Emery regarding the Grand Jury. The Grand Jury is currently taking applications from individuals interested in serving on the 2015-2016 Nevada County Civil Grand Jury. I encourage Mr. Emery, Mr. Walker, Mr. Pelline and all interested citizens to apply to be a member of the Nevada Civil Grand Jury.

    In Nevada County, the Grand Jury is comprised of citizens who volunteer to serve. Each year, the Nevada County Superior Court selects, by lottery, 19 citizens from the pool of volunteer applicants to serve as Grand Jurors for one year – from July 1st to the following June 30th.

    In Nevada County, the grand jury has broad powers to investigate and report on Nevada County, the municipalities, the school districts and the special districts within the county. The main objective of the grand jury is to improve the overall efficiency and effectiveness of local government. To accomplish this objective, jurors may review any and all aspects of local government and publish reports setting out their findings and, if areas for improvement are identified, make recommendations.

    A juror should be able to be objective and unbiased when looking at the way government works. A juror needs to possess strong personal initiative and high energy to face the workload. A juror should be prepared to work cooperatively with 18 other individuals to set and pursue common goals. Above all, a good juror is curious about how their government works and how it can be improved. Jurors operate under a strict code of behavior and confidentiality, outlined in the California Penal Code. The grand jury’s work is confidential and must remain so even after the juror’s year of service is ended.

    Serving on a grand jury provides the juror a genuine opportunity to learn more about local government and to be actively engaged in encouraging local government to become more efficient and effective.

    The Nevada County Superior Court is now accepting applications from individuals interested in serving on the 2015-2016 Nevada County Grand Jury. Jurors must be a U.S. citizen, be at least 18 years of age and a resident of Nevada County for at least one year. An application form may be completed on-line at http://www.nevadacountycourts.com/services/jury_info, or may be obtained from the office of the Nevada County Jury Commissioner at (530) 265-1475. All applications should be submitted by April 1, 2015. Interviews will be held in April and May and the new grand jury will be selected in June. The new grand jury will serve from July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016.

    Any questions concerning the grand jury may be directed to the Foreman of the Grand Jury at grandjury@nevadaountycourts.com, by calling (530) 265-1730 or by mail to Nevada County Grand Jury, Eric Rood Administrative Center, 950 Maidu Avenue, Nevada City, California, 95945.

    1. KEITH: I would LOVE to be on the Grand Jury, but with three failed back surgeries with low back and neck fusions coming up, if a miracle happens and I can walk/sit/talk, etc., I will have to wait a spell. Send good thoughts and energy my way. 😎

      I honestly do appreciate your post and invite.

    2. Keith,
      I am just 4 weeks out from my final major surgery(hopefully) from a year long of treatments (chemo, radiation, surgery, more chemo, and a final surgery) and 27 months of health related issues for stage III colon cancer, so I am out for the 2015-2016 year but possibly 2016- 2017.

      On a side note, I am very active in our community and have pretty good handle at how our local government works. Before the cancer diagnosis I volunteered around 700 hours to various groups, school districts, and non profit organizations annually along with being a vigilant political activist. My comment above about the Grand Jury dealing with the homelessness issue is based on the fact that I am homeless rights advocate, was/am a volunteer for Hospitality House, and was on their board until my health issues forced me to step down.

      Ben Emery

    3. Would you mind if I shared your invite for applications on my facebook page? Don’t know if it would interest anyone but I too am for having a fair cross section of jurors sitting on our county Grand Jury.

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