Dan Logue’s dubious honor

Gives small-business award to right-wing rag owned by major campaign contributors

Most CN&R readers probably aren’t familiar with The Territorial Dispatch, a free weekly publication based in Marysville and distributed in Yuba, Sutter, Colusa and Nevada counties. It’s full of press-release material (“Premier Mushrooms L.P. providing summer jobs to students”) and folksy columns (“Fishin’ Talk,” by Boots Johnson) mixed in with a smattering of local news and lots and lots of red-country claptrap.

In the June 29 issue, for example, just above the mushrooms story, is a long screed by local political consultant John Busch with a page-wide, triple-deck headline that screams: “Agenda 21, The Endangered Species Act, AB 32, Hitler, Castro, Mussolini, Hussein, Obama, United Nations, and the Holocaust … The beat goes on.” In fairness, I think Busch intended that to be his lead sentence and the editors made it the headline, but you get the idea.

Here’s how The Territorial Dispatch is described on the Yuba-Sutter Wiki:

“There is a decidedly right-wing political bias as well as a religious-right bias to this newspaper. For example, a number of recent opinion pieces make the claim that there is some sort of collusion between the United Nations and Yuba County efforts to prevent environmental damage via the Yuba County General Plan. Opinions of the editors suggest that global warming is a hoax. The editors also use quotation marks around the word ‘marriage’ when referring to same-sex marriages, even when the marriages they are referring to are legal marriages that remain fully recognized by the state of California. The views promoted by the Territorial Dispatch are consistent with those of the Christian Reconstructionist movement.”

I mention all this because I recently received a press release from our local assemblyman, Dan Logue, announcing that he’d honored The Territorial Dispatch as the “2011 Small Business of the Year” in his district. Logue is fulsome in his praise of the paper, calling it “a very important part of our rural news community, providing news and information services to many remote cities and towns.”

What Logue fails to mention is that the paper’s owners, John Mistler and wife Kitty O’Neal, have also provided him with major campaign cash—$14,000 in the 2007-08 cycle, for example.

Let’s get this straight: Logue takes money from the paper’s owners, then spends taxpayer dollars to fabricate and deliver an award to those same owners, casting their paper in a favorable light.

This leads Jeff Pelline, a retired journalist (he was editor of the Grass Valley Union, among other jobs in the trade) and avid blogger (“Jeff Pelline’s Sierra Foothills Report”), to ask: “How does that make all the other hard-working small businesses in Dan’s district feel? What gall!”

This is yet another example of Logue’s rather carefree personal ethics. Readers may remember that in September of last year I wrote that he’d once failed to pay some $28,000 in back taxes, resulting in 16 different liens on various properties he’d owned.

Now he’s publicly honoring his campaign donors—without mentioning the money they gave him. Pelline’s right: Other small-business owners in his district should be indignant, as should voters.

Robert Speer is editor of the CN&R.