Supervisor’s Trial has El Dorado Political World Seething
In the courtroom, Nutting, a four-term county supervisor, faces prosecution for alleged misconduct related to state grants he took for clearing brush on his family ranch. But it is the spectacle surrounding his case that envelops this county east of Sacramento.
The prosecution of the veteran timber rancher, a stout defender of private property rights and a hero to tea party conservatives, is revealing angry divisions within the local Republican Party faithful and deep-rooted antagonisms in a county long known for its bare-knuckled politics.
In typically procedural court documents, District Attorney Vern Pierson and his top prosecutor call Nutting a “hypocrite” and blast him for supporting “puppet candidates” for office and directing “underhanded efforts ... to try his case in the media.”
In turn, Nutting ripped the prosecutor, saying, “Pierson is ruthless and will stoop to the lowest levels” to destroy his enemies.
The trial has been preceded by months of angry theatrics as Nutting supporters have jammed meetings of the Board of Supervisors, protesting what they consider “bullying” tactics of a powerful county auditor-controller, Joe Harn, who triggered the prosecution by alerting the district attorney to alleged discrepancies in Nutting’s invoices for state-funded work on his ranch.
Critics of the supervisor, who has recused himself from virtually every board action since his indictment, are calling on him to step down. Meanwhile, divisions over the trial permeate county election races.
The actual legal proceedings, People of the State of Californa v. Raymond James Nutting, will take place at the turn-of-the century courthouse in Old Placerville. A retired state appellate judge from outside the county, Timothy S. Buckley, will preside over the trial because El Dorado judges recused themselves from the case...
Read more in the Sac Bee: http://www.sacbee.com/2014/04/18/6334189/supervisors-trial-has-el-dorado.html
Editors Note: What a refreshment to see a well written story by a respected newspaper about an El Dorado County issues. Although El Dorado County has its own local newspaper, its reputation in the journalism world of Northern California is one of "Poor" quality. Even the local college communications classes that require students to subscribe to a number of newspapers as their class work are prohibited from using the Mountain Democrat newspaper with the explanation that the students need "Good" examples of newspapers for the class purposes.
“Propaganda must facilitate the displacement of aggression by specifying the targets for hatred,” Joseph Goebbels.
Too many recent stories about politics in the local newspaper are so slanted, poorly written, and replete with errors that simple fact checking would have eliminated, that the paper is on the edge of collapse as subscriptions plummet. Many decade-long subscribers have cancelled their subscriptions out of disgust with the paper's use of the rights of the press to mask clear political bias. Some have placed the blame on Editor Mike Raffety explaining that he is in-bed with the government and unable to serve the public good because of his close financial ties to local government officials.
Unlike the local paper, Sac Bee writers like Peter Hecht and Cathy Locke are well respected for being fair and objective in their writing. They provide all relevant sides to a story and are known to fact-check and contact people about whom the story is related before going to press. Seldom do we ever see these reporters issuing corrections because they did not make an effort to check facts.
This stands in stark contrast to the stories appearing in the Mt. Democrat related to local politics which are one-sided and full of avoidable errors due to lack of diligence in fact checking.
Many people feel the paper under Raffety's leadership is failing to do its job as a watchdog for the public which it serves. Good reporting is the foundation of our government's highest protections often referred to as "Freedom of the Press." This Constitutional protection is granted to give the People a counter-balance to the overwhelming power of the government to trample on the citizens rights and authority over the government that represents them.
One commenter responded to a recent story in the Mt. Democrat as "Hitler Propaganda" due to its clear bias and appearance as mouthpiece of the government.
The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, says that "Congress shall make no law....abridging (limiting) the freedom of speech, or of the press..." Freedom of speech is closely linked to freedom of the press.
The Constitution's framers provided the press with broad freedom. The First Amendment's protection of speech and expression is central to the concept of American political system. Free speech is an indispensable tool of self-governance in a democratic society. It enables people to obtain information from a diversity of sources, make decisions, and communicate those decisions to the government.
Rather than having the government establish and dictate the truth, freedom of speech enables the truth to emerge from diverse opinions. Concurring in Whitney v. California (1927), Justice Louis Brandeis wrote that "freedom to think as you will and to speak as you think are means indispensable to the discovery and spread of political truth."
Freedom of speech is also an essential contributor to the American belief in government confined by a system of checks and balances, operating as a restraint on tyranny, corruption and ineptitude. The United States was founded on the revolutionary principles of John Locke, who taught that under the social compact sovereignty always rests with the people, who never surrender their natural right to protest, or even revolt, when the state exceeds the limits of legitimate authority. Speech is thus a means of "people-power," through which the people may ferret out corruption and discourage tyrannical excesses.
Although many love our local paper and hope for its continued existence, we also welcome the Sacramento Bee in the local market and hope the market pressure will cause the management and ownership to rethink their practices and reform them to meet the needs of the people. And specifically to Peter Hecht and Cathy Locke, thank your for your thorough, fair and balanced reporting. We hope to see more of your stories about issues in the El Dorado County market.
Cris Alarcon, Owner & Editor of the Placerville Newswire.