Sunday, June 19, 2011

Paper Feud

It is a source of continual amusement to follow the ongoing feud between Paul Miller, publisher of the Carmel Pine Cone, and the editorial staff of the Monterey Herald.

Miller is well known for his right-wing conservative credentials which, he constantly reminds us, qualifies him to determine whose reporting is biased (The Herald, obviously) and whose is completely fair and objective (The Pine Cone, naturally).

In recent months, The Herald has expressed considerable concern over the management of the proposed Regional Water Project. The project would build a desalination plant in Marina and a pipeline to The Peninsula which would, once and for all, solve our decades-old water shortage. It sounds straightforward enough until you look at the bureaucratic side of the equation. 

The problems are manifold. First, the physical plant's components - intake pipes, desal plant, discharge pipes, and the Peninsula pipeline - would each be separately managed by four different agencies. The plant itself would be run by the Marina Coast Water District, a dysfunctional agency that makes the useless Monterey Peninsula Water Management District (a.k.a. the "water board") look like King Solomon by comparison. But the worst part is that while Peninsula water users would pay for the project, they would have no representation in how it is run. Instead, the Marina Coast directors, would be running the show at our expense. 

And it gets worse, as the Herald reported in detail recently. Someone with a clear conflict of interest played a major role in hiring a contractor for a major part of the work. It turns out that he was employed by both a public agency involved in the project and for said contractor at the same time!

The Herald has wisely asked that this entire mess get cleaned up before any project moves forward. Paul Miller - The Objective One - took this as undeniable proof that The Herald is biased against any water project, and said so in his editorials.

In response the Herald wrote in a June 12th editorial:
We try not to pay much attention to the quaint weekly newspaper in Carmel, but Friday's editorial begs for help. Discussing the Peninsula's need for a greatly expanded water supply, it says "the media — in particular Monterey County Weekly and The Monterey County Herald — do their best to undermine any progress toward a new water supply."
There was no elaboration, no specifics and apparently no understanding of the difference between wanting new water supplies and wanting good ones that result from logical, professional and honest processes.
This Friday, in typical Whine Cone editorial fashion, Miller took that to mean “The Pine Cone is utterly insignificant.” 

No, that's not what the Herald was saying. The Herald was speaking in jest, pushing his buttons(it worked!), and exaggerating to drive home a point. It's not the Pine Cone they consider insignificant. That little weekly does some terrific reporting. It's Miller's incessant editorial whining about The Herald that is insignificant. Really. But I'm biased. I want to know that Peninsula ratepayers will have a strong voice in how the Regional Water Project is managed, so I'm delighted that The Herald is driving that point home at every opportunity.

Miller's "unbiased" mind, on the other hand, completely ignores these serious concerns and in his latest editorial he blows them off as obstructionism:
By constantly exaggerating its costs and downplaying its benefits, The Monterey County Herald is a major obstacle toward getting a new water supply for the Monterey Peninsula, thereby damaging the people and the community the newspaper pretends to serve.
He goes on to say that the only evidence one needs to prove his point is that in a recent water board election the Herald endorsed a different candidate than he did. OMG, how horrible. 

Thus we have the latest installment of the ongoing feud between the no-growth-no-progress-know-nothing Monterey Herald and the all-wise-perfectly-innocent-unbiased Carmel Pine Cone. I still read and learn a great deal from both of them, but these days I read the Pine Cone's editorial page mostly just for laughs. 

Be sure to read my earlier installment on this feud in my August 16, 2008 entry entitled Carmel Whine Cone.
 

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