This blog has long criticized our little community newspaper for sloppy fact checking on its letters. During the campaign season, the letters section becomes a forum for free political ads, without any scrutiny from the management.
Here’s the latest example of The Union getting used, from a person named Rosalie Baker of Nevada City:
“A no vote on Measure B will be the first time I have not supported a school measure in over 50 years. The purchase of a $3 million building to house the Superintendent of Schools staff and creating a juvenile delinquent school within the Earle Jamison continuation school with a ratio of two staff to one student, shows fiscal irresponsibility. Perhaps Superintendent of Schools Holly Hermansen, and the school board, should review current assets and budget distribution. I would say yes to a measure to reduce administration costs and increase our current underpaid teacher’s salaries.”
Here’s what’s wrong with this letter:
- This refrain “the first time” keeps recurring in the letters. This Measure is hardly as irresponsible as the critics make it seem. I just visited the Nevada Union High campus last week and observed the needs for the upgrades that Measure B seeks to address. Has Rosalie Baker, George Boardman and Wade Freedle toured the schools? In addition, this local Measure is being caught in a widespread ideological campaign that has nothing to do with the specific problems facing our local schools. The background is here. This ideological outfit describes itself as a “clearinghouse opposing the coming deluge in school and community college bonds.”
2. Measure B has nothing to do with the purchase of a $3 million building to house the Superintendent of Schools staff. It is an “apples and oranges” comparison. The facts about Measure B are here. The press release about the building is here.
3. “… shows fiscal irresponsibility?” What is this letter writer talking about? This contradicts The Union’s own reporting. On May 8 it wrote: “According to the release, owning the Crown Point Circle facility would save the superintendent of schools office an estimated $60,000 per year for the first 15 years of ownership.”
The Union is doing the community and its readers a great disservice by not fact checking the letters that it publishes. It is sloppy and irresponsible journalism.