The Union’s weekly columnist: an ideologue but not informative

In his weekly column today, dissing California’s “green revolution,” The Union’s weekly George Boardman wrote: “State Senator Ted Gaines, R-Roseville, proposed earlier this year to eliminate state tax credits for cars costing more than $40,000. ‘It’s hard for the average Californian to understand why someone buying a $100,000 car should get a rebate,’ he said. As the saying goes, the measure was DOA.”

But the idea wasn’t “DOA.” What Boardman left out — for whatever reason — was  that a state plan has been in the works for California to set restrictions on the rebates for electric cars and plug-in hybrids. It would have required minimal research to set the record straight for The Union’s readers.

As the website of the California Air Resources Board points out: “Several changes to CVRP (Clean Vehicle Rebate Project) will go into effect approximately four to six months from the approval date, including the following: Income cap for higher-income consumers. Increased rebate levels for low- and moderate-income consumers.”

I picked up the phone — something Boardman could have done — to get more information about this program, having recalled articles about the restrictions in The Chronicle and L.A. Times (but not The Union). CARB said:

“Regarding your questions, what are the changes to the CVRP and when will they take effect? The changes (expected to take effect in early 2016) include an income cap and increased rebates for low-and moderate-income consumers.

“A description of those changes starts on Page 27 of the plan, which was adopted as proposed:

“Here’s a link to our press release from June, when the Board adopted the funding plan:

“The Center for Sustainable Energy administers that program and that website has lots of good information on the program, too. Here’s a link that talks about changes:  And a more direct link:

In addition, in today’s column, Boardman is responsible for another error of omission in his ideological rant against electric cars and hybrids — and the “green revolution,” for that matter.

In this case, Boardman just focuses on owners of high-end Tesla cars as benefitting from the rebates.

But he ignored all the other electric cars/hybrids that are on the road, from Cadillac, Chevy, Ford, Fiat, Kia, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Smart, Toyota and VW. “For example, the Chevrolet Spark EV can currently be leased from $139 per month for 39 months with $0 due at signing. If you prefer more range, deals have never been better on plug-in hybrids,” as wrote this summer.

George missed a golden opportunity to inform and educate his readers with his weekly column, choosing to be an ideologue instead. I wonder if The Union management is even reading his column.

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.

11 thoughts on “The Union’s weekly columnist: an ideologue but not informative”

  1. It was suggested on this blog by Michael Mooers that Brian Hamilton is frustrated by his own newspaper. Is this true? And, what recourse, other than moving/resigning would he have? If not him, who pulls the strings?

    1. I don’t know that he is frustrated in the sense of throwing up his hands. I think he wants to deliver a better paper, and increased community involvement – especially from the center/left – would go a long way in providing that. That said – I cannot speak for him.

      1. Hi Mike,
        I don’t know Brian well. We have mutual friends and we used to attend kids birthday parties and did Fantasy Sports years ago. I’m sure he doesn’t even remember me. I am, however, a critic of the Unions editorial page. A page that wears his name.

        You wrote:
        “Brian Hamilton is frustrated, and, if nothing else, letters indicating a disgruntled community (read: customers) could give him some ammo to bring the paper into the nineties.”

        So, I find this quote intriguing. Do you know Brian? How do you know he is frustrated? If he is frustrated, what are his options? Does he have a plan to alleviate the frustration?

        You say “I cannot speak for him”, yet you seem to be speaking. Perhaps Brian should come here and speak for himself.

        I’m sure he won’t and this is not a challenge. I would just say that if you have information, I’m sure this blog would appreciate the insight.

  2. Jorge’ also gets the “insensitivity award” AGAIN, with his uncalled for comments about Ms Campbell and the school boards over the top decision to censure an educator for calling out a local politician for playing the “I’m not a scientist” card, for political points, with his base of wingnuts .

  3. On another thread I commented on the inaccuracy in the electricity pricing information presented. Yes Californians pay more per kwh per capita for electricity than the rest of the nation, but when we started our energy efficiency programs 20 years ago we were using about the same amount of electricity per capita as the rest of the nation, now we use 50% per capita. Which means the average cost to the consumer has gone down because of efficiencies.

    But the inaccuracy that most troubles me is that George is comparing expenditures of FEDERAL tax incentives to costs at the STATE level. If one looks at the expenditure of state revenue from carbon pricing disadvantaged commentates and the middle class have received the vast majority of the benefit. He is essentially comparing apples and oranges, which is not what the Haas School study did.

  4. Exactly. I took the time to go back and read the report earlier today, and he absolutely mixed the two. The Union management ought to pay much closer attention to all of this.

  5. “Is that all”? is Boardman’s response on Todd’s blog. LOL. No remorse about misleading The Union’s readers about state government efforts to increase rebate levels for low to moderate income people — which contradicts his thesis. And he dodged the issue of comparing expenditures of federal tax incentives to costs at the state level, as Steve also pointed out. Boardman has been reporting this way for so long it’s de rigueur. A real window into his journalistic “toolbox.” But then again he didn’t get too far up the ladder in journalism (San Mateo Times, etc.) before he hightailed it to p.r. As for The Union, the management wonders why it’s hard to attract “center/left” subscribers. Duh.

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