The Union Editorial Board has its head in the sand on its Measure B editorial

When I read The Union’s “Our Views,” I become more and more convinced that its management and many of its Editorial Board members — including Publisher Don Rogers and Editor Brian Hamilton, as well as Lynn Wenzel, Stan Meckler, Mary Anne Davis, Norm Sauer, Megan Ross, Andy Burton, Mayrn Miller, Paul Matson, Mike Dobbins and whomever else — live in a bubble in Brunswick Basin. Or worse, have their head in the sand.

The latest shining example: an editorial titled “Measure B supporters must make their case to voters.” You’re kidding, right? You can’t make this stuff up! (By the way, whatever happened to the idea of having more students on the editorial board? One left and was never replaced).

The Measure B supporters made their case to voters: campaign signs, door-to-door campaigning and mailers but also social media campaigns, an informative website tours, and community outreach. Kudos to all the administrators and teachers who did their part — not as retirees but volunteering for extra hours after finishing their “day jobs.”

Lack of community leadership

The blame for the “nail biter” on Measure B — to use The Union’s editorial words — goes to the newspaper itself for displaying a total lack of community leadership. And to the hard-right ideologues who gobble up so much ink fighting Measure B or “Common Core” (and are The Union’s chief demographic). Some examples:

• The Union’s paid weekly columnist George Boardman ranted against Measure B,  and the retired, rightwing contingent loudly fought against the Measure in the newspaper. A prime example was Wade Freedle and crew, the same group that torpedoed a fire tax in the South County and are cheerleaders for the State of Jefferson and tea party. The Union’s Editorial Board has its share of this “anti-goverment,” “just say no” demographic, such as Norm Sauer and Stan Meckler, local co-founder of the tea party.

Opponents’ “fake news”

• The Union had ample chance to “dig deeper,” do some investigative reporting, and challenge the lies and misinformation of the Measure B foes that it dutifully republished — but did not. It just ran their ads. One example: There are no plans to close Bear River High School, as the Measure B opponents claimed. It was “fake news.”

•The Union Editorial Board had ample opportunity to support the Measure on the editorial pages, even with its own editorial to counter Boardman’s rant — but did not. Some of these individual Board Members have children in our schools, and I was astounded not to see them write about this. Many of them are preoccupied with their own “pet” issues that they write about.

The Union’s failure on this front goes beyond Measure B. The schools have become the favorite “whipping boy/girl” of paid columnist, Lake of the Pines retiree Boardman (who often makes egregious errors in his reporting).

And The Union sued the schools in a Freedom of Information lawsuit over the resignation of a senior school official — a ridiculous move that was justifiably criticized by a judge and cost the district $17K. In that case, the problem also was a lack of reporting — not a lack of transparency.

Meanwhile, the retired, rightwing contingent that The Union coddles (AKA its chief demographic) continues to interject politics in the local schools with its anti-“Common Core” drumbeat. And you can expect more of it too.

About 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.
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9 Responses to The Union Editorial Board has its head in the sand on its Measure B editorial

  1. brucelevy says:

    The Union is and has been a very bad joke on the moronic community that laps up their BS because they’re to lazy to find out for themselves where the truth lies. This goes on for years. This is the house organ fo the close to alzheimers part of our community, which is substantial. And they are led by the nose by the local ignorant “Right”. The big fish in a small pond. Hey, this community will ultimately get what it deserves. It will supplant yuba city for the worst place to live in amerika.

  2. Louise McFadden says:

    Thank you for this obervation about Measure B’s coverage. My main frustration has been the lack of fact checking from some edititorial writers. Information that was patently untrue was published, and that certainly influenced voters.

    I applaud our local paper for the outreach it provides on businesses, on student achievement, on our school grads and on a host of community issues and events. The Union provides a voice and gives good attention to activities that make Nevada County such a fine place. But the lack of investigative reporting on Measure B has been disappointing. A five minute phone call could have prevented wrong information from being presented as factual. I whole heartedly support publishing a variety of views in Letters to the Editor, but I was saddened when inaccurate information was given dominate coverage which was disguised as an editorial. There is a big difference between sharing an opinion and spreading propaganda.

    All I ever wanted were FACTUALLY based columns. Fact check. Please!

  3. jeffpelline says:

    Thanks Louise for your efforts on Measure B. And thanks for your teaching. The Union can print the school’s press releases without introducing spelling mistakes (usually). But it does a deplorable job of vetting the letters and the misinformation in news articles, as this blog often points out. This editorial struck a nerve because it was so off base when it comes to the systemic problems in our community (i.e., The Union’s incompetence and right wing ideologues). Wake up Publisher Don Rogers and Editor Brian Hamilton!

  4. jeffpelline says:

    And it’s ironic too that The Union has been holding social media accountable for “fake news.” Who’s going to hold The Union accountable for publishing its own “fake news”?

  5. jeffpelline says:

    Here are some responses on The Union’s website. All are cogent arguments — except Greg Zaller. Go figure.

    Francis Mcfadden · CSU Sacramento
    Who fact checks these columns?

    For starters, Measure B outreach also took place at numerous service club meetings, at the League of Women Voters, on air at KNCO and KVMR, on social media, though citizen outreach in Letters to the Editor, through volunteer student canvassing in neighborhoods and local grocery stores and at a public debate sponsored by the Nevada County Tea Party. There was more, but I think you get the idea.

    Agreed. Hindsight shows that even more could have been done. But to imply that the Yes on B Committee relied primarily on signage and daytime tours of schools to pass this bond is just false.

    Please. Fact check your work by calling the sources involved before publishing.

    Louise McFadden
    Like · Reply · 2 · 8 hrs

    Liz McAteer · San Francisco State University
    I think its pretty amazing to pass a high school bond in a community in which over 80% of the electorate does not have youth in our schools. Furthermore, being in a community which has the oldest per capita population in the state is also quite remarkable to passing a school tax measure. All you have to do is look down the road in Auburn to see that a bond measure, similar to Measure B, for Placer Union High School District has failed the past two elections. If everyone supports school bond measures, according to your editorial, then why did your editorialist George Boardman oppose the measure? He never came on the school tour nor contacted the school administration for details. I think The Union shares a great deal of fault for this squeaker!

    Terence K. McAteer, Measure B supporter and former County Superintendent of Schools
    Like · Reply · 3 hrs

    Greg Zaller · California State University, Chico
    I opposed Measure B primarily because borrowing money like this, as opposed to a pay as you go tax, is terribly wasteful and there is frightfully little oversight.

  6. Common Core has several objectives. First the notion is there that all students, in a world where parents may have to job hop across the country often in order to stay employed. deserve to at least have instruction in the key subjects of English and Math. locked down to goals for each grade level, regardless of text or teacher,

    This avoids situations in which, for example, students learn fractions twice, and miss decimals altogether.

    The second area of importance is the redesign of teaching some areas, such as elementary math. in ways that will lead to much easier teaching and comprehension of complex concepts of advanced math. What appears to be unnecessary obfuscation to parents who learned old math and then found Algebra and Caculus “too hard,” is in fact the royal “easier” road to success in STEM subjects later on.

    One has to remember that the later decades of the 21st century are not going to be your grandpa’s Global Economy.

  7. jeffpelline says:

    Gregory Goodknight epitomizes the “big fish in a small pond” in our community. This self-proclaimed know-it-all writes in a long screed: “… doesn’t have the education required to teach math at NU or Ghiddotti.” Greg, it’s “Ghidotti,” you fool!

  8. Since Mr, (not PhD, not doctor, did his son ever finish at MIT?) Goodknight went on and on at Rebane’s TreeFort, I have to remind him that National Math scores have remained pretty much the same since 2005, and probably a lot sooner. Also that Algebra started in the ninth grade at Garfield Jr High in 1956. At that time, before the exodus of professors and their families to the suburbs, 25% of the student population was in the top 2% of the nation, at Berkeley High School. Most of us turned out pretty well. Given the incredible changes in USA demographics, drawing any valid conclusions about whether or not math education is on the rocks or soaring high is well neigh impossible, IMHO. http://nationsreportcard.gov/reading_math_g12_2015/files/infographic_2015_g12_math_reading.pdf

  9. As a further critique of the intellect of Mr. Goodknight, I like the phrase found here, in this link.

    “As climate scientist Ray Perrehumbert said in a 2012 lecture to the American Geophysical Union:

    “It’s OK to be wrong, and [Richard] is a smart person, but most people don’t really understand that one way of using your intelligence is to spin ever more clever ways of deceiving yourself. … He has made a career of being wrong in interesting ways about climate science.”

    https://www.inverse.com/article/11643-climate-change-denying-mit-prof-richard-lindzen-is-suddenly-popular-still-wrong

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