Now it’s ’embarrassing’ for The Union to cover the news!

Fevered brain?

You would think Jeff “Podunk” Pelline would have run out of reasons by now for criticizing The Union, but you should never underestimate a fevered brain that never rests. Bitterness is a powerful motivator.

Now Podunk is teeing off on the paper for having the audacity to actually publish a news story about the fake news forum organized recently by the League of Women Voters. “The Union embarrasses itself further writing about ‘fake news’ seminar,” proclaimed the headline on his blog.

Jeffie was upset because the alleged Randall “Fink” Finklestein, the alleged ring leader at Nevada County Scooper, didn’t make a promoted appearance to discuss the subject with Brooke Binkowski,  managing editor of Instead, he sent a computer monitor that displayed the image of a swimming fish. (As far as I know, it was not a picture of David Larsen of Carmichael, aka fish in local blogging circles.)

Podunk apparently thinks the event wasn’t worth covering because one of the featured participants didn’t show. But that’s not The Union’s problem–its job is to report what happens, even if what happens is a disappointment to some people. Sometimes, that’s a better story than what you expect to find.

If we apply the Podunk standard universally, newspapers wouldn’t bother to review a concert that was dud, report on a political speech that revealed nothing new, or write about a city council that didn’t make a decision on the major item on the agenda. Try to sell that to any newspaper editor I’ve ever known.

While Podunk’s animosity toward The Union is well documented, he also has a grudge against Scooper because it has run several stories making him look like the buffoon he truly is. That piece about Jeffie recovering  from a coma was hilarious, and some people actually believed the story about him returning to The Union as a copy editor.

Jeffie apparently prefers more refined events like the recent visit of food maven Alice Waters to the Center for the Arts. For $32, you could sip some wine, eat some munchies, and get Waters to sign a copy of her new book. Then you could pay another $70 to hear her talk about food–and, oh yeh–plug her book. Jeffie’s kind of event.

But what’s really rich about Podunk criticizing The Union for covering the forum is his former association with the San Francisco Chronicle–did you know, he’s a former ex-big time journalist?

The Chronicle is known among those in the news business as the “Comical” because of such ground-breaking journalism as the great coffee swill scandal (“A Great City’s People Forced to Drink Swill”) and the Last Man on Earth series that was exposed as a hoax. The paper was even mocked in the movie version of “All the President’s Men.” (The scene got a big laugh in the theater where I saw the film.)

Then there’s Jeffie’s “magazine,” his crowning achievement after 35 years in journalism. Now that’s embarrassing.

Posted in Jeff Pelline, Uncategorized | 10 Comments

Royal’s candidate finally enters the sheriff’s race

Sheriff’s Lt. Bill Smethers announced his candidacy earlier today to succeed Keith Royal as sheriff, a development that may prompt a serious discussion of marijuana and the law in Nevada County.

Smethers supervised the sheriff’s narcotics task force for several years and was a key player in the dog-and-pony show Royal staged for the Board of Supervisors to get the ill-fated Measure W on the ballot. He even represented the pro-W side in a debate staged by the League of Women Voters.

Strangely, none of this was mentioned in the press release announcing his candidacy that was prepared by Royal’s wife, Jeannette, who will be running the campaign. (Expect the sheriff’s endorsement in the near future.)

The release was particularly light on substance, strange for such an announcement–such press releases usually go into excruciating detail on the candidate’s experience and qualifications for office. At least we now know why Royal declined to endorse either of the other two announced candidates, former Grass Valley police chief John Foster and Sheriff’s Captain Shannan Moon.

Foster and Moon have said they recognize the reality that retail pot will soon be legal in California and have indicated a willingness to find ways to live with it. These are not soothing words for the hard-line anti-plot forces in Nevada County, led by Keith Royal.

The three candidates will face off in next June’s primary election less than six months after retail pot becomes legal in California. I can’t wait to hear the horror stories coming out of the sheriff’s office prior to election day.

AMATEUR MOVE: Public relations professionals will tell you Friday is the best day to release bad news. Newspaper readership is low on Saturday and people are more likely to ignore the news as they pursue other activities. That makes Friday a bad day to announce news you want to circulate as widely as possible, like candidacy for office.

Posted in Captain Shannan Moon, John Foster, Lt. Bill Smethers, Sheriff Keith Royal, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Bear River wins, Neveda Union loses the numbers game

Attrition plays a large role in the fortunes of football teams, giving teams with good depth a decided advantage as the season wears on. As Bear River and Nevada Union showed last week, depth plays a large if silent role in who wins and loses.

The Bruins remained undefeated at 3-0 with a 31-10 victory over Pershing County, Nevada, the state’s defending 2A champion. Given the size of Pershing’s roster, I find it hard to believe there are any divisions in Nevada below 2A.

Pershing entered the game with a 23-man roster, according to MaxPrep Sports, not enough players to have a full practice. Bear River, with 30 on the team, managed to build up a 31-0 lead before Pershing kicked a field goal and scored a touchdown with the clock expiring.

Co-coach Terry Logue gave the school props for showing up: “They have a lot of class. A smaller school to come over here, (they) weren’t afraid to play us, battled us in the first half for sure,” he told The Union.

Still, they didn’t have the manpower to compete with the Bruins. The same can be said for Nevada Union, which couldn’t hold off a Lincoln rally in the fourth quarter and lost 23-22 to drop to 1-2 for the season.

The Miners fielded a roster of 42 players, while the Zebras showed up with 57 players. The depth disparity became apparent late in the game as many of NU’s best players, going both ways, couldn’t protect a 9-point lead. As commentator Dan Miller pointed out on KNCO, Lincoln’s enrollment is growing while NU’s is shrinking.

It’s a wonder the games was as close as it was. Lincoln ran 99 plays (vs. 50 for the Miners) and rolled up 533 yards of total offense to NU’s 141. The fatigue factor was evident in the last 4:43 of the game, when Lincoln ran 10 straight running plays to eat up the clock and preserve a 1-point victory.

“It was frustrating,” coach Dennis Houlihan told The Union. “Our defense played fine, they played well. They just got tired…We weren’t winning the line of scrimmage, you could see it, and we were giving up big plays on third down.”

Things get a little better this week, when NU travels to Napa, a team with 40 players. Meanwhile, Bear River plays the first of four straight road games at Marysville, which claims a bigger roster of 36 players. This is the last chance each school has to pad its record before league play starts.

Posted in Bear River football, Nevada Union football, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Colfax, not Bear River should be in The Bee’s top 20

Bear River is rated No. 20 in The Sacramento Bee’s latest ranking of high school football teams in the region, with Colfax considered a bubble team.

Each team  enters this week’s play with a 3-0 record, so what’s the difference? It’s hard to tell from reading The Bee. The paper doesn’t explain how it assembles the list, but it’s reasonable to presume that the ratings reflect the opinion prep sports writer Joe Davidson, who’s more of a cheerleader than reporter.

According to Davidson, Bear River is a “storied” program with a couple of classy co-coaches. That was apparently enough to rank the Bruins above Colfax. But the performance of each team to-date suggests that Gushin’ Joe has it backwards.

Colfax has dominated its opponents, winning each game by an average of 35 points. That performance was achieved against three teams with a combined record of 3-4, no great but considerably better than the line-up Bear River has faced.

The combined record of the Bruins’ three opponents is 2-6, and Bear River managed to beat them by an average of 27.6 points, not quite as good as Colfax. When you adjust for these factors, Colfax is clearly the better team at this point in the season and deserves to be ranked higher than Bear River.

Here’s how the Foothill 4 rate this week:

  1. Colfax                                      130.6
  2. Bear River                              114.4
  3. Nevada Union                       107.0
  4. Placer                                      103.5
Posted in Bear River football, Colfax football, Nevada Union football, Placer football, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The defenses didn’t rest, and that’s a good thing

Nevada Union football coach Dennis Houlihan said before the season started that he expected the Miners to be a better second half team this year, winning games it lost last year because it faded in the last two quarters.

The team lived up to the coach’s expectations last week, turning a 16-16 halftime tie into a 43-16 laugher against the Placer Hillmen in the home opener at Hooper Stadium.

Meanwhile, Bear River relied on its superior defense to shut out Union Mine 20-0 at home, taking its season record to 2-0. The Bruins have now surrendered just 7 points in 8 quarters of play.

NU’s first win of the season was a first in several regards: First victory in nine games and first home win since 2014. The Miners showed considerable improvement on both sides of the line of scrimmage after the team’s disheartening opening week lose to Antelope.

Aside from shutting out the Hillmen 27-0 in the second half, NU racked up more than 400 yards of total offense thanks to a solid run game and a revitalized passing attack. Quarterback Owen Dal Bon completed 10 of 14 passes for 141 yards and ran for two scores.

Placer was one of two teams NU beat last season. The other team, Lincoln, visits Hooper Stadium Friday. NU and Lincoln have 1-1 records, each losing to Antelope.

Bear River’s win was a slog, and led by the defense on both sides of the ball. In addition to shutting out the Diamondbacks, the defense set up two scores. Garrett Pratt was the catalyst in both instances, recovering a fumble that led to a field goal to close out the first half, and then blocking a punt that led to a TD.

Backup QB Calder Kunde held his own, completing 8 of 14 passes for 78 yards and a touchdown. Regular QB Luke Baggett sat out the game because of a suspension, and will return Friday when Bear River hosts Pershing County, Nevada.

Pershing County is the site of the Burning Man Festival. BR hopes the visitors (1-0) aren’t as hot as the closing festivities at the unconventional event.

Posted in Bear River football, Nevada Union football, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

The first football rankings for the Foothills 4

Forget about the Sacramento Bee and all of those other prep football polls out there, we’re going to focus on the four schools people around here care about: Nevada Union, Bear River, Place and Colfax high schools.

Unlike the other polls, the analyst at Roadkill–that would be me–is not impressed with reputation, legendary coaches, or storied programs. Our ratings are based on how a team is performing this year and the quality of the opposition.

Our ratings are strictly a numbers game, free of bias and other factors that impede clear thinking. With 20 percent of the season in the record books, this is how we rate the local teams:

  1. Colfax                  135.0
  2. Bear River           112.5
  3. Nevada Union   107.8
  4. Placer                    99.3

Nevada Union has by far the most difficult schedule of the four schools, but its opening week loss to Antelope offset any boost that would give the Miners in the ratings.

Colfax captured the top spot because of its strong start, winning by 48 and 22 points against average competition. History shows that Colfax will come back to the pack as the season progresses. In any case, ratings are more volatile at the start of the season because so few games have been played.

Let’s see how much change–if any–there is next week.

Posted in Bear River football, Colfax football, Nevada Union football, Placer football, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Is it satire or fake news? Only you can decide

Jeff “Podunk” Pelline, never known for his sense of humor, got off a good one this morning when he described Reinette Senum as a “citizen journalist” before running her “report” on last night’s forum on fake news featuring Snopes and NC Scooper.

Senum has a legitimate gripe against NC Scooper because it ran a story last year that exaggerated Senum’s criticism of police in general and the Dallas Police Department in particular. But she is not a dispassionate observer, the minimum qualification required of a real reporter.

“I attempted to sit through (the presentation),” she reported to the ex-big time journalist. “Walked out. What a joke.” Senum decided the program was nothing more than an attempt to “…legitimize NC Scooper with Snopes ‘blessing’ of NOT being fake, but ‘satirical.'”

I wonder what Snopes thinks of the conspiracy theories Senum likes to promote on her Facebook page and blog? LOL, as they say.

Posted in Jeff Pelline, Reinette Senum, Uncategorized | 8 Comments