Let’s see how long it takes Jeffie to correct this blooper

Jeff “Podunk” Pelline, western Nevada County’s foremost media critic, takes great delight in pointing out errors made by others in the media and on blogs.

His glee is almost palpable when he uncovers a mistake, but holding himself to the standards he establishes for everybody else is another issue. When Liz Kellar, a reporter for The Union, called him out a couple of years ago for consistently misspelling her last name, Podunk lamely replied that it occurred on his personal blog, presumably giving him a pass.

When somebody calls him on an error on his blog, he quickly corrects it without owning up to the mistake. One exception was when he managed to misspell the name of then Grass Valley council member Jason Fouyer in a headline. He couldn’t dodge that one.

So let’s see what he has to say about this little gem from the alleged ex-professional journalist in a Dec. 24, 2018, post entitled “Great grandpa’s letter on Park Record newspaper letterhead, c 1912,” in which we are informed that W.A. Raddon “had six daughters with his wife Chloe, all girls.” Good to know, Jeffie.

Great grandpa’s letter on Park Record newspaper letterhead, c. 1912

Let’s see how long it takes Podunk to correct it, and if he acknowledges the error. I’m posting this at 2:15 p.m. Monday.

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SPEAKING OF SPORTS: Fans don’t like too much success

Tom Brady will be going for a record sixth Super Bowl ring when the New England Patriots play the Los Angeles Rams Sunday in Atlanta, and there are a lot of people who aren’t happy about it.

At first glance, this seems perplexing. Starting with George Washington, Americans have a long history of idolizing winners, showering them with fame, praise and generally more money than is good for them. Baseball fans still celebrate Babe Ruth, the game’s first super star, along with Lou Gehrig, Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle and others. With the exception of Gehrig, none of these guys were choir boys.

The great baseball dynasties–the “Murders Row” Yankees of the ’20s and ’30s and their great teams of the ’50s–are fondly remembers by fans. In basketball, its the Auerbach/Russell era of the Boston Celtics, the Abdul-Jabar/Johnson teams of the Los Angeles Lakers, and the Jordan/Pippen squads in Chicago. And who can forget the great 49ers, Cowboys and Packers teams?

Bill Belichick

But the same respect isn’t being accorded the Patriots, who are appearing in their record 9th Super Bowl, all during the Brady era. There are a couple of reasons for this.

One of them is Brady, with his movie star looks, super model wife, and jet set life style. (How many people do you know who attended the Kentucky Derby, then took a private jet to Vegas in time for a championship fight that night? This sounds like the Carly Simon classic, “You’re So Vain,” come to life.)

Brady can be somewhat off-putting in the rare interviews he does. You get the sense his responses are scripted rather than from the heart, seeking to find the perfect words to maintain his image. Still, a certain feeling of arrogance comes through (why shouldn’t it?).

Then there’s the evil genius behind New England’s success, coach Bill Belichick. His record of success speaks for itself, but he will never be likable in the same sense that Bill Walsh and John Madden were.

Belichick clearly dislikes interacting with the media, and does the minimum required to avoid being fined by the NFL (head coaches are required to attend 2 press conferences a week, 1 at mid-week and 1 after the game).

Belichick never smiles and studiously avoids saying anything that ‘s quotable. Jason Gay, sports columnist for The Wall Street Journal (really!), describes him as the grumpy old lobster boat captain,  and that about nails it.

Then there’s the team’s reputation for deceit, the most recent example being the deflate gate controversy of a couple of years ago. If the Patriots win Sunday, few people outside of the New England area will be celebrating.

Steve Kerr

But these days, even teams that are likable can cause grumbling for being too good. Take the Golden State Warriors, currently seeking their 4th NBA title in 5 years.

Coach Steve Kerr is quotable, funny, and able to get a roster full of stars to tamp down their egos and play together as a team–the Warriors lead the league in assists. One of their star players, Steph Curry, is one of the most popular in the league.

The Warriors achieved success by drafting wisely–Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green weren’t highly regarded when the Warriors picked them–and then filling out their roster with excellent role players.

But the team has come under criticism the last two years for signing all-world free agent Kevin Durant and DeMarcus Cousins, perhaps the most dominant low post player in the NBA today.

Durant was criticized for spurning Oklahoma City and signing with the Warriors (who could blame him?) and then Golden State was accused of piling on when it signed Cousins, who’s trying to make a comeback after tearing his Achilles tendon. (The fact that nobody else was willing to take a chance on Cousins apparently is irrelevant.)

Whoever thought you could become TOO successful in this country?

Rebounds: Barry Bonds failed to make it into the Hall of Fame again on his seventh try. He has 3 more chances to get the 75 percent of the votes he needs.

Most people think the all-time leader in home runs is being punished for his use of steroids, and that is certainly the case. But there’s another factor at work here too.

Inductees are elected by sports writers, a group of people Bonds ignored and went out of his way to humiliate during his playing days. Barry had a well deserved reputation for being a first-class jerk, managing to alienate teammates, team officials, and just about everybody else he came into contact with during his long playing career. The Giants put up with it because he was their biggest box office draw.

But payback can be a bitch. That’s why Bonds can’t get a job in baseball today and why he probably won’t get voted into the Hall of Fame in the next three years.

***

The Pac-12 is an absolutely terrible basketball conference this season. It doesn’t have one team ranked in the Top 25 and–at this point in the season–the conference champion is likely to be the only team to make it into the NCAA tournament.

The 2 best teams in the West? Gonzaga and Nevada.

***

Dave Pasch, the lead announcer on ESPN’s coverage of the Pac-12, should get a bonus for having to work with commentator Bill Walton. He has to call the game while at the same time keeping Walton from going off the rails, no easy task.

***

New Raiders GM Mike Mayock is acting like he’s actually in charge of the team’s football operations. But he doesn’t have a guaranteed 10-year, $100 million contract like coach Jon Gruden.

***

If the Patriots win the Super Bowl, Brady will get his sixth ring, breaking a tie with defensive end Charles Haley, who won 2 Super Bowls with the 49ers and 3 with Dallas. Haley is in the NFL Hall of Fame, but he was difficult to deal with and was known for his erratic behavior.

The 49ers finally had enough and traded him to Dallas when Haley got into an argument with coach George Seifert and then peed on a teammate’s car. After he retired, Haley was diagnosed as being bipolar and has since become an advocate for early detection and treatment of the disorder.

Posted in Golden State Warriors, National Football League, San Francisco 49ers, San Francisco Giants, Sports, Super Bowl, Uncategorized | 6 Comments

QUICK HITS: Trump’s national security fantasies

–It should alarm even his strongest supporters that Donald Trump doesn’t believe our national security experts. When it comes to international security threats, he operates in a fantasy world of his own.

–Why is Howard Schultz considering a run for president? Well, he has a huge fortune and an ego to match it.

–We apparently have a governor who’s willing to address California’s housing crisis. Gov. Gavin Newsom is suing Huntington Beach for failing to build affordable housing, and is threatening to withhold tax gas tax funds from communities that ignore these mandates.

–Atlas Arms, saying it is “critical to a well-regulated militia,” will make free to the public a computer-aided design file for milling “cop killer” armor-piercing bullets. Those bullets are currently illegal.

–This is scary: Caltrans is closing the rest areas at Gold Run on Highway 80 to repair the plumbing system damaged by people who have flushed, among other things, syringes down the toilets. Apparently people are shooting up before they make the trek over Donner Summit or head down into the valley.

–The recent Women’s March in Nevada City had a modest turnout, but at least they held one. The marches in Redding and Eureka were canceled because of a lack of diversity (what do you expect up there?) and the Democratic National Committee withdrew its endorsement of the national march because of a controversy over anti-semitism.

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Here’s my response to Diaz’s claim of ‘misinformation’

County-Clerk Recorder Gregory Diaz had a lot to say about my post below, “County election office stumbles out of the gate,” but he chose to say it on Jeff Pelline’s blog, where he knows he will not be challenged. You can read his comments there.

Diaz left me a voice mail Friday that I didn’t pick up until about 7:30 p.m. and I have to be out of the house early Monday, so I’m posting my response now. Let’s take it from the top.

Diaz says an article I referenced in The Union published last Tuesday contained erroneous information about the upcoming special election because of errors the paper made when it published the Notice of Election, and that I’m blaming the election office because The Union had to correct its own error.

But the Notice of Election doesn’t contain the erroneous information in The Union article I referenced: When ballots will be mailed and when the Gold Miners Inn will be open as a vote center. According to the article, that information came via email from Abby Kelly, acting assistant county clerk-recorder/registrar of voters in Diaz’s office:

https://www.theunion.com/news/local-news/candidate-filing-open-for-californias-1st-senate-district-election-on-march-26/

That prompted The Union to run this clarification two days later (emphasis mine): “DUE TO INACCURATE INFORMATION PROVIDED TO THE UNION, a Tuesday, Jan. 22, story on A3 about the March 26 special election contained errors. Elections officials will issue vote-by-mail ballots no sooner than Feb . 26. The Gold Miners Inn will open as a vote center on election day only.”

I also wrote that ballots-by-mail for the 2016 general election were missing a page listing 9 of 17 state propositions and 3 local measures. “Our staff remember getting a complaint from one person that they were missing page two,” Diaz wrote on Pelline’s blog. “Since only one person complained, we feel perhaps the voter misplaced their original page two. We received one complaint from an elderly voter.”

But that isn’t what his staff told The Union in an article dated Oct. 20, 2016. They said then that 3 people complained and that “the page just didn’t get stuffed in the ballot.”

https://www.theunion.com/news/nevada-county-voters-should-check-vote-by-mail-ballots/

I also wrote that ballots for the 2016 primary election were delayed because they weren’t properly verified. “We don’t know what that means,” Diaz wrote on Pelline’s blog. I suggest he ask Sandy Sjoberg of this staff for an explanation:

https://www.theunion.com/news/nevada-county-elections-office-voters-should-expect-ballots-around-may-20/

Diaz acknowledges a printing error in 2014 so we won’t go over that again. Then there’s his interpretation of the law governing how many signatures are required to quality a measure for the ballot.

“This issue is still unsettled to this day,” Diaz writes on Pelline’s blog. If that’s the case, why did he reverse his decision? Why was his decision announced in a private letter instead of a press release? Can he cite any cases currently being litigated to resolve this issue, assuming it’s still an issue?

There was no need to interview Diaz because all of the articles cited above were based on information provided  by his office. Diaz just wants to rewrite history now.

Posted in County Clerk/Recorder Gregory Diaz, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

County election office comes stumbling out of the gate again

A special election is being help March 26 to pick a successor to former state Senator Ted Gaines and  as we’ve come to expect in the past, the Nevada County election office has come stumbling out of the gate.

The election office announced earlier this week that ballots would be mailed about Feb. 9 and that Gold Miners Inn in Grass Valley would serve as a vote center beginning March 16.

Then a correction was issued Wednesday: Ballots will be mailed no sooner than Feb. 25 and Gold Miners Inn will function as a vote center only on election day.

Barry Pruett
He was right

This stumblin’, bumblin’ approach to elections has become standard operating procedure under the leadership of county Clerk-Recorder Gregory Diaz. People have become so conditioned to something going wrong they are surprised when there are no screw-ups.

Ballots sent to vote-by-mail voters for the 2016 general election were missing a page listing nine of 17 state propositions and three local measures. “The page just didn’t get stuffed in the ballot by the printer,” an election office employee explained.

Managing outside vendors has been a recurring problem for Diaz’s office. Ballots in 2016 (late getting verified) and 2014 (printing error) were delayed because of screw ups that weren’t caught by Diaz’s office. Then there’s his interpretation of election law, something he’s supposed to know.

Americans for Safe Access Nevada County launched a drive in 2014 to quality a medical marijuana initiative for the ballot. State law required the promoters to obtain valid signatures of 20 percent of county residents who voted in the most recent governor’s election.

In this case, that was 2010, when 45,657 votes were cast in the county for governor. That meant the promoters needed to obtain a minimum of 9,131 valid signatures to get the initiative on the ballot.

But Diaz came up with another number, claiming they needed to obtain 9,928 signatures, 20 percent of all voters even if they didn’t cast a vote in the governor’s race. Diaz was the only clerk/recorder in the state to come up with that novel interpretation. Heck, local attorney Barry Pruett, who Diaz beat in the 2010 election, pointed out the mistake before Diaz conceded he was wrong.

There is only one decision for voters to make in the special election and, as of now, only two candidates to choose from, so the election office should get this one right. But past history suggests this is not a slam dunk.

Posted in Barry Pruett, County Clerk/Recorder Gregory Diaz, Politics, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Here’s an example of why the GOP has a racism problem

“Some in our party wonder why Republicans are constantly accused of racism. It is because of our silence when things like this are said.”–Tim Scott, black Republican senator, on Rep. Steven King

After years of ignoring his racist comments, House Republicans have finally had enough of Rep. Steven King of Iowa.

Republican leaders in the House stripped King of his committee assignments and Rep. Liz Cheney, chair of the House Republican Conference, suggested he resign his seat. A resolution condemning his comments had bi-partisan support in the House.

The GOP leadership apparently had enough of King when he told the New York Times:  “White nationalist, white supremacist, western civilization–how did that language become offensive? Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?”

Here in western Nevada County, conservatives expressed confusion and hostility toward the House GOP’s action, apparently either oblivious to, or in agreement with, King’s long history of racist comments.

“What exactly did he say (as opposed to what his detractors claim he said) that caused the furor and the Republican leadership to censure him,” asked George Rebane, proprietor of Rebane’s Ruminations, a blog that’s a gathering place for the local conservative intelligentsia.

This apparent ignorance is hard to accept. Rebane is obviously well read, and it stretches credibility to suggest that he is unaware of King’s long history of racist comments. Perhaps he just reads conservative publications that don’t find King’s comments objectionable or worthy of criticism, or maybe Rebane just agrees with him.

He has drawn criticism locally for contending that people want to be with their own kind, and suggesting the U.S. would be better off if it was organized into a “confederacy of like-minded regions.” How you would accomplish this in the country with the world’s more diverse population is hard to fathom, but a lot of people see racism in the proposal. I’ll call it segregation and leave it at that.

Rebane’s bewilderment over the King dust-up was quickly dismissed by two of his regulars. “fish,” the only one of Rebane’s regulars who appears to have a sense of humor, responded: “Oh that hardly matters George…they’re running with the narrative…Mittens Romney wants him primaried. Even McConnell is wobbly! GOPe…craven cowards to the man.”

Todd Juvinall, who’s rude, crude and claims to have never witnessed racial discrimination in Nevada County, chimed in with this: “Yeah the lefty snowflakes can’t deal with that so they have to ban it. God help America.”

Rebane’s fellow travelers seem to be fearful of the encroachment of “those people” into California’s second whitest county. They were particularly aroused recently when some blacks tried to rip-off a local pot dealer, and two groups of blacks robbed the T-Mobile store in Grass Valley.

Rebane regular Walt Branson was particularly upset with this chain of events, referring to one of the invaders as a “city pavement ape” in a post on December 1. Rebane didn’t remove it, and nobody suggested it was out-of-bounds. It’s possible that nobody read the rant. The other possibility is that those who read it didn’t find it objectionable.

As Senator Scott has observed, this is why the GOP has an image problem.

Posted in George Rebane, Nevada County Republican Party, Politics, Racism, Republican Party | 8 Comments

Liking the people you cover can be dangerous for a reporter

Jeff “Podunk” Pelline took some victory laps recently because he was invited to a luncheon celebrating the reelection of county Clerk-Recorder Gregory Diaz, giving Jeffie an excuse to (again) drop a name and (again) infer that he’s an important fellow.

Pelline has been a reliable foot soldier for Diaz over the years, contributing money to past campaigns, running Diaz’s press releases on his blog unedited and with no critical comment, and taking regular shots at anybody who dares to run against him.

When Diaz misinterpreted the statute regarding how many signatures of registered voters you need to qualify a measure for the ballot, Podunk brushed it off as no big deal.

Jeffie has been in Diaz’s camp since he was editor of The Union, when he ran against incumbent Kathleen Smith in 2006 for the clerk-recorder’s job. She was appointed to the job when Lorraine Jewett-Burdick resigned, and was seeking election to a full term.

Smith was a real piece of work. She managed to screw up a couple of elections and didn’t think it was necessary to apologize. She spent no money on advertising, and did little campaigning when she ran for election. The Union endorsed Diaz, but she won anyway. (The paper hasn’t endorsed a candidate since then.)

The luncheon is the latest episode of Pelline’s ongoing campaign to impress the local yokels with how many important people he has met over the years, presumably making him superior to the rest of us.

He has certainly reminded me on several occasions, informing me that Larry Ellison and other corporate titans have praised his work in the past. (That would raise a red flag with most reporters I know, but I digress.)

Then there’s the recent email regarding Larry Baer, president of the San Francisco Giants. I mentioned Baer in my commentary on the death of long-time Giants broadcaster Hank Greenwald, suggesting he was less than sincere in his praise of Hank. That prompted the following from Podunk:

“Baer couldn’t pick ‘Bored Georgeman’ out of a lineup! I ran into him at the Arizona Biltmore at Spring Training in March, however, and he said, ‘Hi Jeff.’ Need an introduction? Let me know. Ha!”

So it shouldn’t surprise anybody that the recent death of Herb Kelleher, long-time head of Southwest Airlines, prompted Jeffie to write that it was a “privilege” to interview Kelleher during his big-time reporting days. (Privilege? You would think Pelline was granted an audience with a potentate.)

Pelline writes fondly of a “fun night” he had with Kelleher at a business editors and writers convention in Phoenix. “He had a great sense of humor,” we’re told.

Kelleher was certainly an unorthodox CEO, eschewing the stiff formality of most corporate heads to come across as one of the guys, a hail fellow well met. Just listen to Terry Maxon, who covered the airline industry for 25 years at the Dallas Morning News.

“For the time you spent with Herb, you were the only one who existed,” Maxon wrote in a blog post. “You were his best friend, the person he’d rather be talking to than anyone else in the world. You were awash in the glow of his admiration.”

This can be quite intoxicating for reporters, who are usually greeted with grudging acceptance at best or outright hostility at worst when interviewing corporate heavyweights. Imagine that, a friendly CEO!

“For a reporter, of course, this is dangerous,” Maxon continues. “At the core, we are not the friends of the people we cover. We are not their enemies. We are recorders of what they do, with an effort to put it into an accurate, balanced context that informs our readers. We are not cynics, but we are skeptics.”

So for all his conviviality, how informative was Kelleher? “From time to time, I would have sit down interviews with Kelleher, ” Maxon wrote. “I can’t remember any newsworthy secrets, any news he ever told me–ever.”

There are a lot of reporters who are susceptible to a kind gesture or compliment that colors their work, a phenomenon I witnessed many times during my years in corporate PR. They yearn for acceptance–or at least acknowledgment–from people in positions of power, and mute criticism to maintain access.

Of course, none of them would ever admit to such a weakness.

Posted in Jeff Pelline, Uncategorized | 10 Comments