George Boardman: Silence may be Lamphier’s best defense at this point |

George Boardman: Silence may be Lamphier’s best defense at this point

Observations from the center stripe: Repeat edition

STRIKE THREE? A survey circulating in the Higgins Fire Protection District makes it clear voters will be asked to approve an increase of $100 per dwelling unit to fund district operations. Efforts to increase the special tax in 2012 and 2013 failed to get the needed two-thirds vote … YOU WOULD think people who have lived here awhile would be able to deal with light snow, but last week’s “blizzard” proved once again that isn’t the case … I KNOW NCTV is a shoestring operation, but it’s not that difficult to edit out lunch breaks and other dead time before rebroadcasting a government agency meeting … CHIROPRACTORS, WHO claim to be health-care professionals, are bankrolling an effort to kill legislation that would tighten up California’s child vaccination requirements … BIG DEAL: The $1.6 billion fine levied by the state PUC against PG&E for the San Bruno gas explosion sounds impressive until you realize that more than half the money — $850 million — is for system upgrades the utility should have done anyway … JUST IN CASE: Kansas has passed legislation that forbids recipients from using food stamps to pay for meals on cruise ships …

After saying he’s reluctant to try Terry Lamphier’s child porn case in public, attorney Stephen Munkelt used every media outlet at his disposal last week to discredit a person who isn’t central to the case against his client.

The object of Munkelt’s ire is Steve Enos, who revealed last month that he wrote the letter that triggered an investigation into Lamphier’s alleged improper use of a county-owned computer. Munkelt charged in an article that appeared in The Union and other local media that Enos had less than pure motives, conducting “a secret politically-motivated campaign against Terry,” and cited inconsistencies in Enos’ story.

Munkelt also released a summary of a sheriff’s office interview with Enos that reveals for the first time how he learned about Lamphier’s alleged illegal activity. In Enos’ telling, he heard half of a telephone conversion between two people working on Lamphier’s Grass Valley City Council campaign in which the problem was discussed. Their names were redacted from the report released by Munkelt.

All of this is titillating and mildly interesting, but it isn’t central to the case against Lamphier.

The district attorney charged the former supervisor based on evidence allegedly found by the sheriff’s office and state crime lab on a computer controlled by Lamphier. Inadvertently or otherwise, Enos just set the investigation in motion.

Lamphier has said he never knowingly downloaded child porn and Munkelt wrote in his article, “I am sure there will never be any evidence that Mr. Lamphier ever possessed child pornography …”

Does that mean they aren’t interested in a plea bargain, the outcome a lot of people expect? What’s the point of these revelations at a time when the legal process shifts into high gear? Three possibilities come to mind: Munkelt is trying to create a smoke screen; is test marketing a line of defense; or is setting the stage for a change of venue motion.

Perhaps Munkelt and his client should adopt the policy of District Attorney Cliff Newell and remain silent until they get their day in court.

Roseville has pluses

A developer’s hope to build the quaintly named “Dorsey Marketplace” has again raised the specter of Rosevilling Nevada County. There’s even a Facebook page, Don’t Roseville Nevada County, for those who want to fight this invasive, soul-eating virus.

Roseville is viewed by some folks around here as everything western Nevada County doesn’t want to be — populous, treeless, clogged with cars, un-quaint, a city with no soul. When I first explored the place in 2000, it reminded me of the early days of Irvine, before the UC campus was built.

But the city has some redeeming values that enhance the quality of life of its residents. Some of them would even work for Grass Valley, if the city had the money.

The city has spent tens of millions of dollars to revitalize its historic downtown area and maintain its infrastructure as Roseville’s population has grown. It has 72 city parks, 90 miles of off-street bike lanes and 32 miles of off-street bike paths. All of this has earned it recognition from the League of American Bicyclists for its user-friendly policy.

Roseville has its own municipal utility, providing residents with electricity, garbage pickup and other services for less money than they would pay elsewhere. The city can afford to pay salaries that attract firefighters and policemen from places like Grass Valley. Finally, they have a Trader Joe’s and residents don’t have to drive to Colfax or Auburn to buy a new car.

There’s something to be said for having the 13th highest retail sales in the state, especially when a good chunk of those sales come from out-of-town places like Nevada County.

What separates us

Pauline Nevins’ delightful “Other Voices” essay last week about how the British and Americans speak the same language reminded me of a chance encounter I had several years ago with America’s favorite Brit, Alistair Cooke.

Most people remember him for his work on “Masterpiece Theatre” and other PBS programs, but Cooke made his television debut in 1952 as the host of “Omnibus,” an anthology of American culture that ran for nine years on CBS.

One of the show’s sponsors was Aluminum Company of America (now Alcoa), and Cooke used the British pronunciation for “aluminum” (al-you-min-i-um). Being young and impressionable at the time, I followed his lead until I realize that isn’t how Americans pronounce the word.

Fast-forward about 30 years to a flight I was on from New York to San Francisco. I looked up from my reading to see Cooke emerge from first class and walk to the plane’s rear. I followed him, introduced myself, and recounted how he led an impressionable boy down the wrong pronunciation path.

With a bemused look on his face, Cooke said: “As Sir Winston Churchill observed several years ago, the English and Americans are two great peoples separated by a common language.”

George Boardman lives at Lake of the Pines. His column is published Mondays in The Union.

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