Thursday, October 28, 2004

Excluding your readers from the reality-based community

Nov. 9: thought better of it, removed note at bottom

What do you do when you're out to bring someone down, but the facts don't turn out in your favor? Bury them, knowing that casual readers won't notice?

Last Tuesday's Union column under the publisher's byline is extra-long, a condemnation of [C]:
[since starting this] I(publisher)’ve been threatened, picketed and have been asked to resign...
I believe there is sufficient information to warrant an investigation by the grand jury, district attorney or attorney general to determine if [C] violated Government Code Section 1090, the state’s conflict of interest law.

If it was "foreseeable" that [C] could have gone to work for the Land Trust when he voted three months earlier to give the Trust more than a half-million dollars (and it certainly seems possible that it was, in fact, "foreseeable"), the county contract could be voided and the Trust asked to return the $508,000. If [C] knew when he voted that he would eventually work for the Trust, he could be guilty of a felony and possibly jailed. That’s how serious this issue is.
Who asked for [publisher]'s resignation? Were the threats personal threats, or just threats to withhold advertising? Why does the column omit material facts (e.g., intent of incoming supervisors, or who allowed the North Star House to deteriorate so badly, and why) and slant others (minor examples: comparing self-employed earnings against former salary to imply they should be equal, disregarding influence of benefits and overhead on the latter; referring to roofing contractor as 'friend', when it's been established that bid was accepted without knowing contractor's identity) ?
Unfortunately, [publisher] does not even acknowledge your correspondent's email, so NCFocus is not likely to find out.

Also on Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors met to go over the Land Trust's accounting of the North Star project (of which [C] was manager). Note the differing perspectives from The Union's and Yubanet's headline writers as to what's "news":

Front (moving to back) page article from The Union, Crowd defends Land Trust:
Three paragraphs about the crowd;
Then two paragraphs on the background of the situation;
Then, once we've moved to the back page:
County Counsel Robert Shulman authored a memo this week that found, based on current evidence, [C's] hiring by the Land Trust did not violate any laws governing conflict of interest for public officials.

From Yubanet, Glitch Hunt at Nevada County BOS Comes Up Empty is a more extensive report, with a more informative headline.

(Don't blame reporter; keep in mind that headlines are written by copy editors, not by reporters.)


For reference, although not very helpful: California Code (Section 1090):
Members of the Legislature, state, county, district, judicial district, and city officers or employees shall not be financially interested in any contract made by them in their official capacity, or by any body or board of which they are members...

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