Big, bad Pelline: He huffs, he puffs, he’s in lousy shape

Try as he might (and he’s always trying), Jeff “Podunk” Pelline can’t huff and puff hard enough to blow down The Union, but you have to give him credit for trying this week.

In his untiring effort to disparage the paper, Podunk attacked the publisher’s latest column and several articles that appeared in the paper this week, employing his usual hypocrisy and intellectual dishonesty to build his house of straw.

Publisher Jim Hemig used his column to take a gentle poke at The Union’s annual “Best of…” awards, listing some off-beat awards he’d like to include. The column was lighthearted and some of it was downright funny–something you don’t expect from a newspaper publisher. Alas, Podunk saw this exercise as so much grandstanding and frivolity. Podunk could use a humor gene transplant.

Next he criticized the paper’s coverage of the measles outbreak, suggesting the paper downplayed the issue by running a press release–which announced there’s nothing new to report–on an inside page. Maybe The Union should have followed the lead of The Sacramento Bee, which rewrote the press release and put a reporter’s byline on it.

Podunk was right about the paper’s handling of the minimum wage story. Given the number of service businesses in the community, the subject deserved more coverage than a press release announcing Assemblyman Brian Dahle’s opposition to the increase.

But Podunk went off the rails when he criticized The Union earlier this week for its reporting on the Julia Jordan case, and took a swipe at its ongoing coverage of the Terry Lamphier case.

The Union reported Wednesday that Jordan has been charged with embezzling money from the Grass Valley Downtown Association when she was executive director. Podunk didn’t see fit to report this, but did write, “The Union just trashed Julia’s career for her, without even interviewing her, her lawyer, or the DA.”

I guess Podunk missed the last paragraph of The Union’s story: “Jordan did not respond to attempts to contact her, and (her lawyer, Stephen) Munkelt declined to comment.” If the reporter had contacted the DA, he would have issued his standard “no comment.”

When one of his blog regulars mentioned The Union’s coverage of the Lamphier case, Podunk responded that he hopes both cases go to trial. “It will shine light on what The Union reports as the truth and the truth. It will put The Union, its informants and their tactics on trial.”

The “truth” The Union reported in its news columns in both cases is based on formal criminal complaints filed by the district attorney’s office, and statements by Sheriff Keith Royal and Grass Valley Police Chief Alex Gammelgard. Is Podunk saying the DA, the sheriff and the police chief are lying? Where’s your proof?

Podunk may be sensitive about these cases because he was a big booster of Lamphier when he was a supervisor, and couldn’t contain his joy when Jordan got the Grass Valley position. Writing in his blog, Podunk proclaimed: “Our family is so proud of her! (We wrote a well-deserved letter of recommendation…”

Is Podunk trying to deflect attention from his apparent poor judgement of people with his unfair criticism of The Union? You decide.


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