Boardman’s column in The Union: Part of the problem, not the solution

(Photo credit: The Union)

Some things never change around here, even when you return refreshed from a great family vacation.

I laughed out loud when I read George Boardman’s curmudgeonly column in The Union this week. It reminded me of what our high school physics teacher, Mr. Newman, used to ask our class: “Are you part of the solution, or part of the problem?”

This week, crotchety Mr. Boardman (the paid weekly columnist) opines: “While California is among the nation’s leaders in job creation, Nevada County remains stagnant. The population gets older because our youth go away to college, find good paying jobs with a future elsewhere, and don’t come back.”

Sure, the Economic Resource Council has to shoulder some blame, as I’ve written before. That’s not news.

But our other local “good old boy” institutions also have to share some of the responsibility, including the ones that Boardman staunchly defends such as The Union (which pays him).

What youth would want to come back to read Boardman’s “get off my lawn!” columns week after week — or experience his world view, for that matter? Many of his columns ridicule the reasons (not to mention the communities) that make California “among the nation’s leaders in job creation,” to borrow his words.

Boardman epitomizes the aging demographic. And his resume is not much to write home about, either, even for a small community newspaper.

Instead of just criticizing the ERC — the low-hanging fruit — The Union and Boardman ought to look in the mirror and think about their own role in creating a dynamic community or merely a retirement home.

The Union ought to find some more dynamic columns to inspire the same young people that the community seeks to attract.

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 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.

38 thoughts on “Boardman’s column in The Union: Part of the problem, not the solution”

  1. Jeff, welcome back. Can’t tell you how happy I am you and the family had a nice vacation, only to come back to the same old tired community and its good-old-boy newspaper.
    Who do you think reads The Union every morning? It sure as hell isn’t the youth of our community. It is, as you know, the majority of the 65 percent of our population who is over 50 years of age. And, as you know, if The Union suddenly became the SF Chronicle they would go out of business because most of us don’t want to read about SF values and the far left agenda.
    Your argument that should The Union be more liberal like the SF Chronicle or the Sacramento Bee it would help bring youth to the county to live and work is too silly to contemplate or comment any further.
    The Chronicle and Bee play and write to their base and so does The Union. As an X-newspaper man, you must know that.
    Actually, Boardman had some good points today. One, is the ERC worth keeping? Since I returned to this community about six years ago I have seen little return from the ERC for the money invested by the county. John Gregory’s tenure even swallowed up the $35,000 that had been allocated to promoting tourism into his office and management budget. It just went away! Two, Boardman stated that the bottom line is the ERC is not moving the economic needle. I think this is a fact! Three, he stated that our population is getting older because our youth move away for better opportunities. True, but this has been the trend since the 1950’s. When I graduated from NU in 1965 there were 300 in my class, 200 of us moved away for college, better jobs, and the military. Now, there are 700 graduates each year and 500 still move away for many of the same reasons. This trend will not be reversed until all the usual suspects that have been reiterated to death by our county pundits are addressed, and then some. Add to that if we now turn the county into a marijuana mecca, throw out all the reasons that are now listed because the changes to our community in the next 5-10 years could be catastrophic.
    Further, I don’t consider myself a good-old-boy, even though I am fourth generation and politically leaning right. I do consider myself a concerned citizen and enjoy reading The Union each morning, even Hilary’s column from time-to-time, and I suggest you would serve our community better by taking fewer shots at The Union and our few remaining good-old-boys and concentrating more on our county and city governments, their votes, and their decisions that can affect us all.
    As always, Kindest Regards…………………..Keith

    1. Well, you heard it Jeff. Keith has your future agenda all planned out. He knows exactly what you need to do to be of value to the community. I must have missed something…who is this a**hole?

      1. I actually meant this comment to apply to Keith’s post below suggesting what Jeff should do to be of use to the community. My mistake.

  2. Keith,
    With all due respect, you have “good old boy” written on your forehead. Thanks for weighing in, though, albeit from the same demographic as Boardman. Can’t wait to see who chases after the ERC dollars next. The Chambers, riding The Union’s coattails? The more things change, the more they stay the same.

  3. A regular reader sent this along about Boardman. What a hoot!

    Hi Jeff,

    I have tried to comment on George’s blog twice in the last few weeks, but he deletes my comments.
    I am not in the habit of visiting his blog but knowing he works for the Union made me wonder about his journalistic integrity.

    Wondering no more.

    1. Instead of posting the comment (not a personal attack), Boardman goes onto his blog and insults her with a comment of his own. I wonder if Boardman’s artwork was ever displayed in the Smithsonian in Washington? It doesn’t matter to him. Just like it doesn’t matter than he never worked at a paper bigger than the San Mateo Times. He’s a hack.

  4. Jeff, you have no idea who I am! And calling me a good old boy could be construed as an insult, but I’m not taking it that way as I have known some damn fine people in this community that relate to or call themselves good-old-boys with much pride. They have done more to contribute to this community than you have ever dreamt of, never mind done.
    They have raised their families, built businesses, and contributed to the pride of both Nevada City and Grass Valley long before you ever set foot in these foothills.
    Your constant badgering of The Union is tiring and only self-serving. It seems to ring a bell with some of your followers but it serves little purpose because it’s not changing soon, if ever.
    You contribute little to this community, except spending money in the local restaurants and complaining about things that will not get fixed anytime soon. Again, if ever.
    Put your money where your mouth is and pick a much-needed project and go to work fixing it. I’ll give you one, our homeless problem. Or another would be Highway 20 on the Nevada County side. Figure out a way to get the funding to widen it to two lanes to the Lake of the Pines lights. Now you would be doing something of value for the community you so much claim to care about.
    Just complaining about The Union, Boardman, and running down good-old-boys isn’t the answer.
    Once again, Kindest Regards……………….Keith

  5. Keith,

    Our contributions to our towns are regularly recognized, from our business that promotes the region, to our cash donations to multiple causes. We also are raising a straight-A student and making important contributions to the schools.

    From what I’ve seen, your claim to fame is trading on your high school relationships.

    It’s never-ending:

    And from what I’ve heard before I came to town, you are, well, infamous! You’ve never learned to control that anger, either.

  6. My family has roots here from 1850. I’m 5th generation. I don’t put it on my resume’. Why do NU grads from 1965-1970 feel this is so important?

    1. Interesting comment. I have only lived here for 42 years but I know locals who graduated from NU during that time period and knew them from before I moved here. There seemed to be a competition between them as to who could make the most money… hook or by crook.

      1. I find it very interesting also, Joe.
        My parents were born in the late 30’s. Before them,my grandparents in the teens. Since, relatives every decade after.

        I’ve never seen anyone play the “generation card” before except for the last few elections with this particular demographic. I find it weird.

      2. And it’s just that older generation of locals. Younger ones I know such as Chris Bishop, Mark Johnson and others do not act like this.

  7. jeff,

    Here is the text GB deleted from his GOB blog.
    It’s a reasonable question and one that Moon should have no trouble answering if he is an honest person..
    What is George afraid of?

    “Shannon Moon is a member of the Tsi-Akim Corp/Tribe.
    I look forward to her, “commitment to reform, innovation, and open communication.”
    The first thing I would like to hear from this candidate is some open communication about what the Tsi-Akim Corp. has been up to in this county for the past few years and how she feels about the way this has affected the Nisenan and the rest of the community.
    Does she think it’s right for the Tsi-Akim to seek recognition in no less than three counties, Plumas, Yuba and Nevada?
    What for?
    The truth is not coming out through the local newspapers or radio stations.
    Let us now hear it from this candidate.

  8. This is the second comment that was deleted.
    Don’t think I could have been more civil.

    “Capt. Moon’s gender spectrum orientation is actually an asset because it proves something about the internal fortitude it takes to live an authentic life in the face of prejudice and adversity.
    What concerns me is that on Facebook Capt. Moon appears to be member of the Tsi-Akim Tribal Corp.
I look forward to the transparency Capt. Moon promises, as I have much to ask her about what she knows concerning Tsi-Akim activities in this county, Plumas County and Yuba County.”

  9. Judith,
    Gee, you gave Boardman a scoop, and he ignored it. Thanks for the information. I have not heard that elsewhere.

  10. Jeff,
    Things are tough all over for the media.
    Maybe Mr. Boardman is simply a potted plant at the Union, just there to dispense his cracker barrel style wit and wisdom.
    Sometimes he is right on about things and sometimes he is even funny.
    But, for the way he treats this reader’s valid concerns, I’d say he wears a grey hat.
    He might conceivably be wearing a black hat, but who knows? Not me.
    But not a chivalrous white hat, definitely not.

    1. Judith,
      In fact, things are not tough all over for the media.
      The Washington Post is thriving under Jeff Bezos. The New York Times is gaining readership.
      The Union is a reflection of the aging, declining demographic in our towns, and its “star” is George Boardman. The newspaper isn’t even printed here; local jobs were lost as a result. “Aging, declining” is not a sustainable business strategy.
      It is becoming more marginalized, thanks to social media, the rise of arts and culture (The Union is still advertising for a features editor to direct this kind of coverage), and a business strategy that clings to an aging and declining demographic.
      Keith thinks this can last forever. It can’t.

  11. Jeff, just as your contributions are recognized through your business, your magazine, so is our contribution recognized through our, and now Robin’s, work at the GGVCC. We are very happy and proud of our contribution to our community as I explained to you in detail some months ago. As to contributions to causes, no big deal, we all do that.
    Congrats on raising your son. I too raised a fine, well-educated boy that now lives and works in Washington DC where he recently got engaged, makes a good living, loves his work and the life a viable thriving community offers. My bet is your son, upon completion of his education, will live and work elsewhere as well.
    As to my being infamous, it doesn’t begin to explain the color of my life. And what a life it’s been! In fact, by summer’s end, I will finish a book on a portion of my life, and should I be fortunate enough to get a publisher you will get an inside look of life in our community in the 1980’s. Before you settled here and frankly life was a hell of a lot better than I’m witnessing around here today.
    Finally, just like most far left liberals you didn’t address my original topics from above. Your constant attacks on The Union, good-old-boys, Boardman, far right websites, Republicans in general and anything else you see that doesn’t fit into the picture of our community as you would like to see it. You just attack the messenger.
    There are over 60,000 of us living in Western Nevada County and hate was never a part of our vocabulary until a few years ago. Personally, I attribute this to the deep divide in this communities politics and the rise of the marijuana cultivation community.
    Final/Final, just like I stated before above, find a project and put your money behind it, as Robin and I did with the GGVCC and NCTV. Then find a solution to the problem/project and stop complaining. It is boring and non-productive………………….Keith.

  12. Keith,
    For the record, I am not a “far left” liberal. I am a middle of the road voter, who has voted for Republicans and Democrats. You are “far right,” which colors your view of the rest of us. And you are a card-carrying “good old boy,” largely using your high school connections to better yourself. It’s largely what landed you at the Chamber. We all know that.

    Your behavior toward others in the community, before I came, should have disqualified you from ever being a leader of the GGVCC or NCTV. It’s too bad that a small loan could somehow change that. I don’t blame you for defending The Union; it has long been the tool of the western Nevada County “good old boys” politics, which often is filled with hate and intolerance.

    There is one thing we can agree on, however. I am not a fan of marijuana cultivation in our community. Having said that, it has arrived, so a better solution might be compromise rather than declaring war (which is your longstanding MO).

    Best of luck Keith. I need to get back to work.

    1. Several years ago, I contacted an old friend in Washington, D.C. because I was looking for a way to help a young lady in Nevada City, waiting for an organ transplant, who was likely going to need a ride on a private plane on very short notice.

      My old high school buddy, who was then a lobbyist for the Airplane Owners and Pilots Association, said,, “I’ll make some calls to pilots in Northern California, and when you need a plane you’ll have it.”

      I thanked him and he said, “If I can’t help a friend, who am I going to help?”

      Much of what we do in life –– professionally or personally –– is linked in some way to friendships and connections. Over the past several decades, I’ve been helped professionally and personally by longstanding friendships, and I have been able to help others when they needed a connection.

      The young lady, by the way, was eventually flown to a Bay Area hospital free of charge by a local business owner. I didn’t need to call my friend at AOPA, but it was nice to know that he would have taken care of things if it had become necessary.

  13. Here’s another screw up in The Union. A “Meet Your Merchant” article about a fine local business. Except that the URL pointing to the business is screwed up in the article, so you can’t click on the link:
    “” target=”_blank”>Text”&gt”


    It’s been like that all week. Podunk.

  14. Jeff, I don’t care what level of liberal you call yourself. Maybe if you toned down your rhetoric, the right blogs would tone down theirs, and we just might be able to tone down the hate and intolerance of each other. Come to think of it, about the hate that I mentioned above, that is now part of our community, started about 10 years ago. Isn’t that when you moved here?
    For the record, what got me consideration for the CEO position of the GGVCC was Robin and my introduction to the City Mgr., GV City Council and Chamber Board by then Coucilman Dan Miller. And yes, he was a high school friend of mine at NU. Isn’t friendship nice? You should try it. What got us the Co-CEO positions was our vision for the GGVCC, our members, the City, and our community. And yes, it helped that we were willing to front the money for the new visitors center and offices in GV. Things have a way of being meant to be and timing can be everything.
    Above you have insinuated something about my behavior toward some people 30-40 years ago. I am now 70 years old, who amongst us is the same person that they were in their 20’s and 30’s?
    I have few regrets. And with few exceptions people got from me as I got from them. If you know different and have a case……………….make it!
    Now I’m headed to your favorite city, San Francisco, for a Giants game. If you have more, I’ll be back to you on Thursday…………………….K

  15. Keith,
    You may be 70 years old, but you sometimes act like a 2 year old.

    As for my blog, it was a response to the hate and intolerance from our local hard right — no secret in our towns. If that ever stopped, there would be nothing to write about, at least on that topic. Duh!

    Since you like to offer unsolicited advice, let me offer some to you: Sit down with Pastor Ron, and let him help you work some things out.

    1. I have to agree with your second paragraph Jeff. I wasn’t here in the 80’s but saw it for myself during that era in a heavily conservative area of southern CA. Down there if one wasn’t a yuppie or even a wanna-be the intolerance was rabid. That later 80’s began toning down a little. In my opinion it’s better to be yourself than a phony.

      1. I think the whole yuppie thing was powered by Peruvian Marching Powder. Coke was cool and was a way to flaunt wealth. It was wink and nod and snort a few lines off the toilet tank in every bar, wedding, or social event. Coke and smack were both very big in Nevada County in the 1980’s. The business people did coke and the low life were junkies. You were either with it or you weren’t. Not too dissimilar from the late 1960’s and pot.

      2. EEEWWWW! The toilet tank! I agree with what you are saying Joe although I remember coke being around in the early 70’s. I didn’t know smack was so heavy in the 80’s here. Thanks you for the information. You are correct about pot during the 60’s. Being a “long hair” down south I didn’t care if I fit in or not. I was and am happy just being me. I certainly was not afraid to volley back a taste of the haters medicine and most often laughed about it.

      3. OOPS! Forgot to add besides the coke-heads that era was all about greed baby greed materialism not matter who got cheated, back-stabbed, or stepped on to achieve that goal.

  16. I like it when Greg Goodnight, the global warming denier, thinks I’m far left. Of course, Greg. Spoken like a true global warming denier. lol.

    1. Now Gregory claims I’m not “far left”; that I’m a “solid left of center Democratic Party partisan.” How can that be since I’m a decline to state voter who over the years (as stated previously) has voted for Republicans, including Ronald Reagan, George Bush (once) and LaMalfa. It’s all a matter of public record. Greg you owe me a retraction! I’m eyeing those big “assets” of yours that “cover the house and airplane”! ROFLOL. What a clown!

      1. I have to post this here because I am sure that when George wakes up he will delete it: “Of course part of it could just be that Gregory has a hard on for attacking people like Jeff or me because their lives are so shallow and joyless that the only way they can find solace is being big on social media because they are small and powerless in their own subconscious…kind of like our President.”

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