COMMENTARY: Try not to irritate Lon Allan

June 17, 2008

By DANIEL BLACKBURN

I have a recurring dream in which the local media crowd works in concert to slay the dragons of government corruption and to cultivate an environment of informed citizens. And then I open my eyes, and my Tribune, and realize what a far-away fantasy that really is.

It is a closely-held belief of mine that newspapers assume a public trust when they publish, and that applies to UncoveredSLO.com. That’s why Trib columnist Lon Allan’s latest love letter to his Atascadero political cronies in today’s issue is oddly disconcerting.

The headline on Allan’s piece is “Gadflies to shoo away – and to praise.” He bemoans the reporting by UncoveredSLO.com of a verbal altercation between city council member Tom O’Malley and Mayor Mike Brennler that threatened to degenerate into a fist fight. Allan calls the article “another hit piece.”

This is a report which has triggered more than 530 responses from readers. Some of those are arguably nonsensical, to be sure. But that number of comments suggest that a lot of San Luis Obispo County residents not only have an enormous need to know, but a hunger to make known their own views, too. Until today, there had been no word of this incident in The Trib. Allan exploits Trib white space to criticize people who believe elected officials’ public behavior is subject to news coverage.

“Knowing O’Malley as I do, I’m sure he regretted his actions as they were happening,” wrote spinmeister Allan. Sure O’Malley did. Like Eisenhower regretted launching D-Day.

Of course, Allan can be forgiven for trying to provide smoke and mirrors to cover for his old buddy. What really makes this whole thing amazing is that some editor allowed Allan to get his cheerleader puffery into print without asking the columnist the obvious question: What the hell is this all about?

When community newspapers are so openly soft in news selection, and allow beat reporters, columnists and editors to become socially entwined with the public officials and community personalities whose activities they cover, it’s a formula for an informational vacuum and an uninformed citizenry.

In a real newspaper, Allan’s kind of drivel would be relegated to the “Letters to the Editor” section. Despite the fact that no one but the most attentive insider has any idea what he’s talking about, Allan castigates a gaggle of citizens he calls “gadflies.” These are people (and one unnamed ‘alternative news Web site’) who apparently disrupt Allan’s Utopian vision of a peaceful Atascadero community by (gasp!) involving themselves in city affairs and commenting freely on those affairs.

It’s a disservice when a community newspaper doesn’t properly cover the news (Estate Financial and Hurst, the Cal Poly Saudi deal, cushy county employee deals with vendors, questionable FEMA applications in Atascadero, to name a few others). It’s also a disservice to publish article after article about how rosy things are in certain SLO County business environs that fly in the face of fact. But when a newspaper pundit criticizes regular, involved citizens because they are viewed as picking on his hot-tempered pal, it borders on being hugely irresponsible.

Allan should re-read some of his own words: “Thomas Jefferson made reference to the need for a vigilant press and public.” This is a columnist who can’t define a vigilant press and doesn’t much care for that vigilant public.


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12 Comments

  1. ccn_debate says:

    Member Opinions:
    By: Anonymous on 6/28/08
    to dogbite

    It does seem you may be right. The post looks like Bob Kelly blogged as dewdog and then signed his comment as Bob Kelly. I'd say it's up to him to admit or deny. If you remember dewdog had many adverse comments about Estates situation but totally backed off when it came to Kelly Gearhart. It appears we may know the answer here. Apparently he has never heard the saying "whats good for the goose is good for the gander"
    By: Anonymous on 6/28/08
    According to the Tribune dewdog is Bob Kelly, Atascadero realtor and former council candidate.

    http://www.sanluisobispo.com/news/local/story/393

    I just received a recorded message on my telephone asking if I was in favor or against Wal Mart. I was then asked that if I would accept all of the traffic congestion, pollution etc. from a Wal Mart. Their closing statement "this has been paid for by Oppose Wal Mart." Where is their money coming from. These telephone calls are extremely expensive. Oppose Wal Mart is obviously a Political Action Group and has not registered and/or reported their finances. The group that they actively support, Luna, Brennler & Beraud, are calling for campaign reform. How hypocritical can you get? Bob Kelley
    By: Anonymous on 6/25/08
    ABA 1 OWM 0

    A big win for the citizens of Atascadero.
    I guess I was right about Comar and Ellen "the turtle" Beraud. Comar tried to push to have the initiative adopted as is and THE TURTLE stared at her hand all night then voted NO, complained about her pay and called for an immediate adjournment. The red faced Smokey the Bear Brennler tried to bully everyone he could from O'Malley and Clay to some little old lady who told him to shut his trap she had had enough. I think she was going to invite him to the parking lot for a minute there. Good luck in November OWM. And by the way your doing a great job at undermining the credibility of your own canidates. Thanks from the other side.
    By: Anonymous on 6/24/08
    here is the fith…I'm sure you meant the 1st

    Lotta time the 1st alows us to display our stupidity

    No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

    By: Anonymous on 6/23/08
    I appreciate and enjoy your site even though people disagree with me. I think it is essential for everyones thoughts to be freely expressed in order to protect the 5th amendment rights of all.
    By: Anonymous on 6/23/08
    People post under my name all time, but I complain not!

    (0) 0 Total Votes - 0 up - 0 down
  2. ccn_debate says:

    Member Opinions:
    By: Anonymous on 6/28/08
    to dogbite

    It does seem you may be right. The post looks like Bob Kelly blogged as dewdog and then signed his comment as Bob Kelly. I'd say it's up to him to admit or deny. If you remember dewdog had many adverse comments about Estates situation but totally backed off when it came to Kelly Gearhart. It appears we may know the answer here. Apparently he has never heard the saying "whats good for the goose is good for the gander"
    By: Anonymous on 6/28/08
    According to the Tribune dewdog is Bob Kelly, Atascadero realtor and former council candidate.

    http://www.sanluisobispo.com/news/local/story/393

    I just received a recorded message on my telephone asking if I was in favor or against Wal Mart. I was then asked that if I would accept all of the traffic congestion, pollution etc. from a Wal Mart. Their closing statement "this has been paid for by Oppose Wal Mart." Where is their money coming from. These telephone calls are extremely expensive. Oppose Wal Mart is obviously a Political Action Group and has not registered and/or reported their finances. The group that they actively support, Luna, Brennler & Beraud, are calling for campaign reform. How hypocritical can you get? Bob Kelley
    By: Anonymous on 6/25/08
    ABA 1 OWM 0

    A big win for the citizens of Atascadero.
    I guess I was right about Comar and Ellen "the turtle" Beraud. Comar tried to push to have the initiative adopted as is and THE TURTLE stared at her hand all night then voted NO, complained about her pay and called for an immediate adjournment. The red faced Smokey the Bear Brennler tried to bully everyone he could from O'Malley and Clay to some little old lady who told him to shut his trap she had had enough. I think she was going to invite him to the parking lot for a minute there. Good luck in November OWM. And by the way your doing a great job at undermining the credibility of your own canidates. Thanks from the other side.
    By: Anonymous on 6/24/08
    here is the fith…I'm sure you meant the 1st

    Lotta time the 1st alows us to display our stupidity

    No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

    By: Anonymous on 6/23/08
    I appreciate and enjoy your site even though people disagree with me. I think it is essential for everyones thoughts to be freely expressed in order to protect the 5th amendment rights of all.
    By: Anonymous on 6/23/08
    People post under my name all time, but I complain not!

    (0) 0 Total Votes - 0 up - 0 down
  3. ccn_debate says:

    By: Anonymous on 6/22/08
    What the hell is the last post, anyway to stay on subject. God, don't you people read the posts before spouting off? Those who accuse the victims of being less than prudent are the dumb ones. You haven't a clue what you are talking about.
    By: Anonymous on 6/22/08
    People posting under my name now, how quaint. I can speak for myself thank you. Unfortunately the level of discourse on this site is reminiscent of another site I posted on a while back. I will post here no more. So if someone by the name of norske posts here it will not be the original. FUBAR
    By: Anonymous on 6/22/08
    Capitalism is dead and this country is broken. Peace
    By: Anonymous on 6/22/08
    to we the people

    Are you speaking for the people that separated so many good honest people from thier hard earned savings? Or are you speaking for all the the people you were taken advantage of by these people? I believe there are good honest developers and brokers out there and until this is cleared up there will be no room for them to continue in buisness. It's time to flush the system clean.
    By: Anonymous on 6/22/08
    to insider. why do you hate everyone,SLAM SLAM SLAM.some one said to you May THE BIRD OF PAIRADICE FLY UP YOUR NOSE is that why you are so angry WE THE PEOPLE belive so.
    By: Anonymous on 6/22/08
    yes
    By: Anonymous on 6/21/08
    I will ask here also, has K Gearhart been seen around lately? Certainly hasn't been responding or showing any responsibility.
    By: Anonymous on 6/21/08
    to confused

    Rumor is over the last few years Kelly has been investing in projects in Ohio. That he has some family there and has been buying and development. Again rumor has it.
    By: Anonymous on 6/21/08
    Please explain the reference to Ohio for Kelly?
    By: Anonymous on 6/21/08
    I guess that's what I'd do with all of them. They have made no effort at reconciliation with any of thier victims. Nor have they proposed a repayment plan. It's just basically tough sh@t. Thats the way the cookie crumbles. At least make sure they don't just move to thier next victim.
    By: Anonymous on 6/21/08
    I'd put Gearhart in Jail and make and example out of him. He took money intended for a specific use and Converted to his own use. Thats a crime and is punishable by time in prison. I would also make him pay restitution. Thats what I would do. What would you do? Spank him and send him to Ohio.
    By: Anonymous on 6/21/08
    What is the man suppose to do? Like most people these days who are in financial distress, irregardless how they got there, you liquidate and move on.
    Time will take its course with the Hurst Financial dealings.

    (0) 0 Total Votes - 0 up - 0 down

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