Keeping our eyes out for the bulldozer |

Keeping our eyes out for the bulldozer

Newspapers try to stay out of the news themselves. That’s because such news is usually bad – like last summer when a guy in Granby, Colo., went off the deep end and leveled the newspaper office with an armored bulldozer. Seems he didn’t like the editor’s editorials.

‘Course, he didn’t like a lot of other people in town, either. He leveled the city hall, his neighbor’s business, and about a dozen other buildings before putting a bullet in his own head. Took them a day to pry their way into the ‘dozer to get his body out.

Over the years at various newspapers, one of my colleagues was stabbed by a mental patient, and another chased through the office by a woman swinging a baseball bat.

By that standard, this week hasn’t been so bad for us at The Union. For asking a pointed question at a campaign forum and publishing a detailed editorial criticizing a popular local candidate, the newspaper has been cussed out on the phone, accused of yellow journalism (see the election letters), and picketed (see below).

But nobody died, or was even bruised. Nor has anyone directly addressed the main point: That ethical questions remain about Bruce Conklin arranging a half-million-dollar gift to the Nevada County Land Trust while a supervisor, then turning around to take a job managing those funds after leaving office.

Mr. Conklin, who is running for the Board of Supervisors again, spent most of his four-minute opening statement at a candidate forum on Friday lambasting The Union, saying it “apparently didn’t learn a lesson from Dan Rather’s apology.”

If he means that the documents and letters from the county, Land Trust, and other knowledgeable parties that support the editorial are forgeries, we’ll be happy to let him examine them – or better yet, put them online for folks to make up their own mind.

He has asked The Union to give him space to defend his actions (in addition to the full-page interview with him published on Thursday), and we’ve agreed to do so. If he were politically savvy, he’d do a mea culpa and move on with his campaign. But somehow we don’t think he’ll take our advice.

Mr. Conklin told a reporter that The Union is against him for political reasons. Seems he’s the only thing standing in the way of insane population growth, which the newspaper favors. Magicians call that technique “misdirection.”

What was the newspaper’s motive when it criticized Supervisor Drew Bedwell who, just before leaving office last May, manipulated the governmental process to install his friend, Fran Freedle, as elections clerk?

Mr. Conklin has called that incident a good example of needed change on the board. The only difference between that episode and Conklin’s switcheroo is that, as far as we know, Mr. Bedwell did not profit financially from his machinations.

In the Freedle case, the board recognized citizens’ legitimate objections to the hijacking of the governmental process and undid the error. Too bad Mr. Conklin can’t do that – but he could at least acknowledge that he was in error.

However, we’re not holding our breath. We’re just hoping that picketer doesn’t come back with a bulldozer.


Richard Somerville is the editor of The Union. His column appears each Saturday.

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