The Union’s columnist Boardman: unclear what “proactive” government means

As regular readers here know, The Union stepped in proverbial “you know what” when it hired George Boardman as its weekly columnist. It seems to be aimed at hanging on to its core demographic — aging and declining — at the expense of gaining new readers. Like some former publishers, George is using his weekly column as a “bully pulpit,” speaking largely for himself. He’s also ill informed and out of touch. It’s proven to be an unproductive exercise — worse than I thought.

The stakes keep getting higher for The Union too in its challenge to grow revenues and readership. In its latest cost-cutting move, the newspaper plans to outsource its printing “off the hill” to the Sacramento Bee — for the first time in 150 years. “Contact the Bee promptly with any shortages,” states the job description for a “dock supervisor” that is now posted on its website. The Union needs to figure out how to grow its business faster.

So along comes George Boardman. Does he “delight” or “inform” readers? Nope. His errors of fact or errors of omission are pointed out here, but don’t take my word for it. Just read the letters about how he’s misinformed on GMOs and organic food here and here. One excerpt: “The Stanford study Boardman cites is a very controversial study because it ignored all the studies that found organic foods to be more nutritious with fewer chemicals, antibiotics and pathogenic microbes.”

Or how about the Bridgeport Bridge? “Our elected officials have demonstrated leadership from day one in our community’s efforts to save the Bridgeport Covered Bridge. That is why we must respectfully disagree with Mr. George Boardman’s recent editorial to the contrary,” writes Douglas Moon, chair of the “Save our Bridge Campaign.”

Yet George kept it up, and he generated this recent response from Supervisor Hank Weston: “George Boardman’s column on Monday containing the header ‘Read the Agenda’ was inaccurate and requires me to respond not only to you about your facts, but to defend the many citizen volunteers who attended the budget hearing in support of accelerating the funding for the restoration of the Bridgeport Covered Bridge.”

Both electeds “doing the right thing,” at least in this case

Now this morning George pits “electeds” against each other (at least in his own mind). He writes that Grass Valley Mayor Jason Fouyer is being “proactive” because he attended a meeting to create a large western Nevada County recreation center. Then he calls that “quite a contrast” to Supervisor Ed Scofield, who recently wrote that leadership means “finding the funding” and leadership needs to come from “organizations and citizens with the passion to create the vision.” (Scofield was responding to a Boardman column in a polite fashion).

George shows a real misunderstanding of the process, not to mention an ongoing petulant tone. In short, what Fouyer and Scofield are doing and saying are not mutually exclusive. They both are doing the “right thing,” at least in this case.

Like Fouyer, Scofield also attends meetings to help build collaboration. And like Scofield, Fouyer also would support the need for “finding the funding” and finding “true leadership” from the organizations involved. There is no difference between the two styles — and the funding part is the hardest “nut to crack.”

George also is off base about the Rood Center’s role in community decision making, as shown by the response from the “Save Our Bridge” participants, ranging from Doug Moon to Hank Weston. In fact, the “Save our Bridge” campaign was one of the most nonpartisan acts of collaboration I can remember for our western county. It’s widely praised, from conservatives and progressives alike in our community.

Scoop: Supes to announce measure to extend library tax

Since it’s the start of a new week, here’s a “scoop” that further suggests that our electeds, including the supervisors, can be “proactive,” to use Boardman’s words. My sources tell me that the supervisors, or at least one of them, will soon announce a plan for a measure to extend the county library tax — known as “Measure C.” It would be up the voters to decide.

I’d support that. The money will be well spent: to continue to support our libraries throughout the county. The Madelyn Helling Library also has a collaborative technology center, showing that it is keeping up with the times. Measure C was originally passed by Nevada County voters in 1998 for five years, and was passed again in 2002 for a 15-year extension. The eighth-cent library tax is set to expire on September 30, 2018. Some background is here.

In addition, the money also could help fund a community recreation center in Penn Valley, which will include a library. So in fact, this eighth-cent tax could help address “finding the funding.”

This goes well beyond attending a meeting to show collaboration and leadership. It’s proactive too.

It is time for The Union to rethink its one-year-old experiment with George Boardman as a weekly columnist. It just isn’t working out. We are neither being “informed” nor “delighted.” And he just can’t get his facts straight. It merely undermines the newspaper’s credibility when it needs to be bolstering its readership.

George Boardman: “The Village Idiot” in our local newspaper

Editor’s note: Here we go again: another uninformed column by weekly columnist George Boardman drawing an “Other Voices” in The Union. It’s endless. Think of all the ink and paper that is wasted from publishing his column and then having to publish the counterpoint. How utterly unproductive. Where’s the RL Crabb cartoon on “Bored Georgeman”? LOL.

“George Boardman’s portrayal of organic farming as food grown for indulgent yuppies and not worth the extra money is an outstanding example of not understanding the subject of GMOs whatsoever.

“The main reason the public wants food labeled is because of the amount of herbicides and pesticides that are sprayed on GMO crops.

“Many of those chemicals remain on and in the food that goes to kitchen tables all over the world.

“More reasons for ‘no’ to GMOs:

“1. Organic farming practices are safer for the water, air, soil, farm workers, farm families, all animals, bees, adjacent towns and especially children and pregnant women.

“We are all paying extra for the fallout from GMOs.

“2. The weeds that are being sprayed are now superweeds— resistant to the herbicides, requiring heavier use or stronger poisons further affecting the environment.

“3. The GMO companies produce patented seeds that farmers are not legally allowed to save without paying again and they manufacture the herbicides and pesticides that go with them.

“4. There are health risks associated with GMO feeds given to lab rats and farm animals.”

The rest of the column is here.

Bashing farm-to-fork in our local newspaper

BriarPatch donates chickens to feed the homeless (Photo: Tony Finnerty)
BriarPatch donates chickens to feed the homeless (Photo: Tony Finnerty)

The Union continues to show it has a lock on the curmudgeon and ignorant demographic with a mind-boggling column by George Boardman, its paid weekly columnist, in this morning’s newspaper. A parody website now calls this guy “Bored Georgeman” – no wonder.

This time The Union columnist manages to ridicule the newspaper’s readers in Nevada City, along with the local farmers, farms and businesses who produce or sell local and organic food (including the BriarPatch and Michael Funk’s United Natural Foods) — all in one swipe.

“The vast majority of feed given to dairy cows in the U.S. is made from GMO corn, soybeans and alfalfa, and 80 percent of packaged foods contain GMOs,” Boardman writes.

“It’s unlikely any of this concerned our neighbors who gathered recently on Commercial Street in Nevada City to indulge themselves at the second annual Farm to Table Banquet, a celebration of the local effort to produce organic food and a benefit for the Commercial Street Music Fund and music for the First Friday Art Walk. This year’s meal, which featured a flat-iron steak (grass-fed, of course), was priced at $75 a plate, plus an 18 percent gratuity and a $5.86 fee on top of that — over $94 to dine on an asphalt surface infused with grease and oil. Alcohol was extra.

“The prices reflect in part the willingness of people to pay the premium required to be a righteous eater, a premium that moves down the food chain. Being holier than thou commands a premium of 20 percent to more than 100 percent, according to price surveys done by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and other organizations.”

Here are the facts: Besides being a fundraiser (at a price comparable to other local fundraisers), the banquet supported our local farms, farmers and small businesses: Nevada County Free Range Beef, Riverhill, Blue Bird, First Rain, Dinner Bell, Soil Sisters, Super Tuber and Mountain Bounty, among others. The participating restaurants included Matteo’s Public, Three Forks Bakery & Brewing Co., Nevada City Winery, Treats Ice Cream and The Fix. (The Fix is owned by the family of our local Olympic hero, Evan Strong).

The banquet was a sellout for the second straight year. It was a great community accomplishment; others would struggle to match it.

Boardman concludes: “So when the time comes, forego that hand-crafted peach, gorgonzola, bacon pizza and donate the cost to a food bank. You’ll find the act nourishes your soul.”

In fact, the same people participating in the banquet do just that!

BriarPatch regularly has donated organic chicken — 1,000 pounds of it at once — to the Food Bank of Nevada County to help feed the hungry.

So does United Natural Foods Inc., founded by local resident Michael Funk of Nevada City. The details are here and here. The BriarPatch also gave a grant.

The Food Bank is one of few food banks that offer organic and sustainably grown products.

But wait, there’s more. Nevada Union High is now offering fresh food from local farms in the school cafeteria. “We are working closely with local farms to secure produce that is grown locally and regionally; this means students can expect colorful summer vegetables when they begin the school year, crisp apples as they enter autumn and savory root vegetables as they turn the corner into winter,” the school writes.

More details are here.

All told more locals, including the homeless, are eating organic products, much of it produced by locals. What’s wrong with that?

The community-wide complaint about Boardman is that he never does his homework, shooting from the hip with strident views.

Picking extreme views does not create balance

The Union continues to open itself to endless back-and-forth sniping in our community with ignorant columns like this, but it doesn’t end there:

Here’s an example from this morning of what we can expect from The Union’s new editorial board: Tea party supporter Nancy Garcia rebutting progressive Nancy Eubanks’ column: “Whose freedom is being tread on”?

As reader Greg Zaller wrote here on the weekend:

“I posted this comment on The Union comment site:

“(Publisher) Jim (Hemig), it appears that your premise is that by picking the most extreme views it will create balance, to which I don’t agree. Extremeness is not a point of view. If you seek balance then you will need to find people who experience the different conditions people face in this county, instead of its newsworthy activists.

“It would be most interesting if you developed a second editorial board, as I described, and let the two write side by side editorials. I doubt that my suggested board representing actual segments of this community would agree closely with your ‘balanced’ board.”

Why can’t The Union columnist Boardman get public officials to talk to him?

I feel sorry for subscribers of The Union. As it turns out, the community newspaper’s weekly columnist and member of The Union’s editorial board can’t find a way to get our local public officials to talk to him — in a small town, no less.

“When contacted by The Union, Supt. Louise Johnson and two trustees declined to comment, and the district has yet to respond formally to the report,” George writes in his column this morning.

“(School board trustee) Klauer didn’t respond to a request for comment,” he adds.

Inside the “sausage factory” of journalism, this one-way street of communications is a “red flag” to editors that a staffer, or in this case, a columnist has a reputation for being unfair.

It means it’s time for “sit down” to discuss news-gathering practices.

I guess The Union’s management hasn’t got the memo. But if they’re worried about their community perception and relevancy, they ought to ask around. It’s becoming an open secret.

 

The Union’s curmudgeon columnist: A farm-to-table movement moron

UnknownThe Union dug a deep hole for itself when it hired George Boardman to be its weekly columnist, as I’ve written before. He’s the poster boy for the newspaper’s declining, aging demographic. Until it dumps George, it won’t grow readership. Not a chance.

In the latest example, George trashes the farm-to-fork movement to improve healthy eating in our schools. Under the headline “Here’s something else the government can’t do for you,” George’s thesis is that the “farm-to-fork movement may be trendy and organic may be growing in popularity” but the government should ignore all this. He even wrote this: “Kids in Georgia love their friend chicken.”

Boardman concludes: “And when you attend the county fair in August, make sure your children are accompanied by a responsible adult when they visit Treat Street.”

In fact, George is ignorant about some nationally recognized programs in our own community, insulting its organizers and supporters with his ignorant column.

For example: “Sierra Harvest’s Farm to School program connects 16 schools and partner farms, reaching over 5000 students and 82% of the K-8 population in Western Nevada County with;
• Farm field trips
• School produce stands
• Classroom visits by chefs and farmers and
• Monthly tastings of seasonal produce in over 200 classrooms.

“‘When the guest chef came in with crates of raw kale, I was skeptical, I thought, ‘they are never going to go for this’, but at the end of the day, kids were asking for seconds and thirds of kale salad. One 8th grader exclaimed, ‘If my mom made kale like this, I would eat it every night’! Michelle Mc Daniel, Teacher.”

Another example: “The end of the year has arrived for our local schools…..after a wonderful year of learning about growing food, how to cook and eat healthy, fresh food and the importance of caring for our bodies, it was so inspiring to see these Deer Creek students celebrate the end of the year by harvesting a fresh salad from the school garden!

“We can’t wait for 2013/14 school year when we can make even more progress with Live Healthy Nevada County’s Farm to School Programs! Until then…..go play in the dirt!”

Congratulations to The Union for another “shooting yourself in the foot award.”

Meanwhile, the community and its farm-to-table movement is thriving – and making The Union look more and more irrelevant.

The Union columnist Boardman: shooting blanks again

The Union has long been a lapdog for our community, promoting the “old boys” network. Keeping the western county small and insular has benefitted the newspaper and the “old boys,” because they can control the message and, in their minds, influence local policymaking. It’s a selfish strategy. The internet is changing this, however.

Worse is when The Union tries to be a “watchdog.” It often just doesn’t have the “journalistic chops.” Instead, it falls back on the “don’t argue with people who buy ink by the barrel” mantra, increasingly irrelevant nowadays amid new competition.

Nowhere is this more apparent than with The Union’s weekly columnist George Boardman, who epitomizes a small-town journalist “shooting blanks.” He’s become a running joke in some circles around town because like Former Union Columnists such as Russ Steele and George Rebane (known to some locals as the “FUCs”), he’s not interested in the truth, just an ideology. (“Dumb bureaucrats” is one of Boardman’s favorite themes).

These “bureaucrats,” by the way, increasingly are asking to meet with The Union’s management to express their displeasure with the newspaper’s ignorant reporting.

For whatever reason, The Union’s “stock-in-trade” has become turning its pages over to the uninformed like Boardman, telling the rest of us “what we think we should know.” It’s why The Union’s demographics match its readers — aging and declining. George isn’t just a weekly columnist, either. He’s been a member of “The Union’s advisory board,” supposedly a brain trust for information.

Boardman’s blog this morning (promoted in this mornings print pages of The Union) is a case in point. It is titled “Bureaucrats will tell you what they think you should know” and manages to insult a whole slew of them — but without informing us. Memo to Publisher Jim Hemig: What’s the ROI on Boardman?

Insults our clerk-recorder with a “Where’s Waldo” reference

George takes aim at:

•High-school district Superintendent Louise Johnson
•High-school trustee Richard Baker
•Clerk-Recorder Gregory Diaz, whom he insulted with a caption, “Where’s Waldo.”

When it comes to the schools, George is upset that the Superintendent or Trustees won’t discuss personnel issues, though it happens to be the law. The Union lost an FOI lawsuit in a related case, costing the district $17,000 to defend.

In this instance, the handwriting is on the wall at the school district, but The Union just doesn’t like the answer. The district is struggling with issues such as longterm accreditation and declining enrollment, and it is changing management to achieve that — just like all businesses do, including The Union. Duh.

In the issue of the clerk-recorder’s office, Boardman would have been better off to just publish Diaz’ statement regarding a delay in mailing of ballots because of a printing error. It would have been more informative. The Union also has a habit of “interpreting” and getting it wrong.

Boardman also is incorrect in alleging a lack of transparency in this issue. I know this firsthand: I had the same brief discussion with the assistant-clerk recorder and got all my questions answered, including the name of the printer.

Write about the El Dorado County supe who’s on trial

Instead, Boardman ought to be picking on a “bureaucrat” such as El Dorado County Supervisor Ray Nutting, a property rights advocate and tea-party hero who also happens to be on trial for felony charges. A jury is deliberating his fate this week. Nutting faces four felony counts stemming from roughly $70,000 in state grants he was awarded to clear brush on his private property.

“The prosecution of the veteran timber rancher, a stout defender of private property rights and a hero to tea party conservatives, is revealing angry divisions within the local Republican Party faithful and deep-rooted antagonisms in a county long known for its bare-knuckled politics,” as the Bee has reported.

For its part, The Union is at a crossroads and struggling to find the talent it needs to grow its business in the age of the internet.

The Union columnist George Boardman gets it wrong — again

Editor’s note: The Union’s weekly columnist George Boardman has posted a formal “clarification” (AKA correction) on his blog for a post titled “Making a concealed weapons list, check it twice.” This has been a pattern with George’s journalism, causing considerable consternation in the community. Here’s another: Confusing the Auburn and Folsom Dams. Duh. As I said last week, The Union needs to dump George before it’s too late. The Union links to George’s blog — at its peril.

Clarification of ‘Making a concealed weapons list…’
Posted on February 21, 2014 by George Boardman

Sheriff Keith Royal said earlier this week he didn’t provide a list of Nevada County residents with concealed weapons permits to The Union when the newspaper requested the information in 2004.

In accordance with the law, Royal said he first notified permit holders about the paper’s request. He said he subsequently received a call from publisher Jeff Ackerman canceling The Union’s request for the information.

The original post, “Making a concealed weapons list, checking it twice,” has been revised to incorporate this information.

–George Boardman