Vallejo Times-Herald Editorial: The only thing ‘fake’ is calling us ‘the enemy’

Repost from the Vallejo Times-Herald
[Editor: Our president’s foul mouth and shameful behavior is dangerous.  A free and unfettered press is incredibly important. Note that local news is also an issue of great significance.  Recent cutbacks at both the Benicia Herald and the Vallejo Times-Herald leave Benicia largely unreported. See my editorial, Loss of local news coverage by Benicia Herald & Vallejo Times-Herald.  – RS]

Our View: The only thing ‘fake’ is calling us ‘the enemy’

By the Editor, 08/15/18, 2:58 PM PDT

We are not the enemy.

It’s shocking that in this country, built on the foundation of a free press, we would ever have to say that. But we live in shocking times. And we are under attack — from our president.

He has called us “the enemy of the American people.” He disparages our work as “fake news.”

At his rallies, he verbally abuses us. Not surprisingly, some of his supporters have taken it to the next step, threatening violence.

Last week, he tweeted about the press: “They purposely cause great division & distrust. They can also cause War! They are very dangerous & sick!”

Enough. This isn’t OK.

We can’t sit here and be silent. The notion that we are the enemy fomenting division domestically and abroad is absurd. When someone says something that wrong, that egregious, we can’t just let it go — especially when that person is the president.

Understand, as much delight as he seems to bask in while taking shots at us, the president isn’t lobbing “fake news” charges at us for the sport of it. There’s a method to this madness — and it’s centered by the only thing being “fake” in this equation is what continually comes out of the president’s mouth.

The president, through his constant Twitter use and his public statements, spews half-truths, falsehoods and outright lies at an historic rate for a United States President. According to PolitiFact, Trump’s statements are “mostly false” 22 percent of the time, “false” 33 percent of the time and “pants on fire” false 14 percent of the time. That’s an astounding 69 percent of the time where the president is not telling the entire truth.

But don’t just take PolitiFact’s word for it. Just listen to the president, just the other day.

“The head of U.S. Steel called me the other day, and he said, ‘We’re opening up six major facilities and expanding facilities that have never been expanded.’ They haven’t been opened in many, many years.” the president told a round table of American workers.

Except U.S. Steel is doing no such thing. All U.S. Steel has announced is that it will restart two blast furnaces and steelmaking facilities at the company’s Granite City Works integrated plant in Illinois — one in March and the other in October.

And the ridiculous things Trump said about the latest round of devastating California wildfires? We won’t even justify that by repeating it.

These lies are important to remember, because they are why Trump attacks the media with such zealousness: To discredit us. To get his base to believe his lies, not the fourth estate’s carefully sourced stories, many of which feature the president’s own words contradicting himself and others in the White House.

Journalists are trying to do a job. We’re not trying to tear down our nation. We’re trying to strengthen it. For we believe in the foundational premise behind the First Amendment — that our nation is stronger if its people are informed.

That’s just as true when talking about the local city council and school board as it is when discussing national and international policymaking and politics.

We sincerely believe that most of you understand that — otherwise you wouldn’t be reading our newspapers and websites. For that, we are deeply grateful.

You understand that we express our opinions on the editorial pages, but the reporters whose articles appear in the rest of the newspaper seek to present their work without bias.

You understand that there’s a qualitative difference between the reporting of mainstream journalists and the unchecked information — and disinformation — that flows alongside our work on Facebook and Twitter.

We wish the president could focus on fixing the threats to our democracy that stream through social media, rather than conflating social media and professional journalists to insinuate that somehow we’re all the same.

Yes, we make mistakes. We’re human. But we try to correct our errors as quickly as possible. And we’re certainly not purveyors of made-up information.

Today, we, and scores of other news organizations across the country, at the urging of the Boston Globe editorial page, are speaking up — defending the integrity of our journalists against the incessant onslaught from the president.

It’s a remarkable, unprecedented moment. Frankly, it’s scary. We’re afraid, for our personal safety and for the future of our country. These attacks on the press are an attack on our nation’s foundation.

And we’re angry. Angry that we work so hard to carry out the mission our Founding Fathers envisioned, to provide the free flow of information so critical to a well-functioning democracy, only to be demonized by our president for doing our jobs.

Today, we ask readers to keep supporting us. And, whatever your political leanings or feelings about the president’s policies, recognize that the press has an important role to play in our nation.

We take it very seriously. We wish Trump did, too.

    Vallejo Times-Herald report: Birdseye gets Progressive Dem endorsement

    Repost from the Vallejo Times-Herald
    [Editor: for more about Kari Birdseye, see BirdseyeForBenicia.com. For more about Christina Strawbridge, see Christinaforbeniciacouncil.com. – RS]

    Birdseye gets nod from Progressive Dems of Benicia

    Times-Herald staff report, 08/15/18, 4:55 PM PDT 

    BENICIA >> The Progressive Democrats of Benicia have endorsed Kari Birdseye in her bid for a seat on the Benicia City Council.

    The group’s membership voted on the endorsement during a membership meeting Tuesday night.

    Birdseye is current chair of the city’s Planning Commission.

    Fellow candidate and former Councilwoman Christina Strawbridge failed to secure the endorsement of the Progressive Democrats, group officials said.

    Strawbridge, who served on the council from 2011 to 2016, is also a member of the Progressive Democrats of Benicia.

    Two seats are open on the Benicia City Council this fall. Incumbents Mark Hughes and Alan Schwartzman are leaving the council after their terms end this year. Current Economic Development Board Chair Lionel Largaespada is also a candidate for a council seat.

    Members further endorsed Dana Dean for the Solano County Board of Education Trustee Area 3. Dean was the only person to pull and submit candidacy paperwork prior to the Aug. 10 deadline. Thus, her contest was removed from the ballot and she was automatically re-elected to a new four-year term.

    The election is Nov. 6.

    For more information, visit progressivedemocratsofbenicia.com.

      Benicia Herald interview with Alan Schwartzman: will not seek re-election

      Repost from the Benicia Herald

      Schwartzman will not seek re-election; no incumbents in City Council race

      AUGUST 15, 2018 BY NICK SESTANOVICH
      Councilmember Alan Schwartzman will not be running for re-election, leaving no incumbents running in 2018. (Photo courtesy of City of Benicia)

      Councilmember Alan Schwartzman will not be running for re-election, leaving no incumbents running in 2018. (Photo courtesy of City of Benicia)

      For the first time since 2007, no incumbents will be running in the Benicia City Council election. Councilmember Mark Hughes announced on Friday that he would not seek re-election, and Alan Schwartzman told the Herald today that he would not be running either.

      After 13 years on the council preceded by six years on the Planning Commission and a year and a half on the Economic Development Board a few years earlier, Schwartzman felt it was time to retire to spend more time with family.

      “As of Saturday, I’m going to have seven grandchildren,” he said. “I want to spend some more time traveling and seeing the grandkids. It’s time to give back to family.”

      A resident since 1987 and current manager of American Pacific Mortgage’s Benicia branch, Schwartzman first considered running for the council in 2003 while serving on the Planning Commission.

      “I spent at least two of those six years as the chair,” he said. “It was a wonderful experience. It just confirmed for me that I enjoyed being involved in city government and having a role in decision-making and moving the city forward.”

      “I wanted to go beyond Planning Commission and have a greater role in the policies of the city and being able to move the city forward,” he added.

      Additionally, Schwartzman’s children were adults and had moved out of Benicia, so he felt he now had the time and commitment to serve on the City Council. He ran in 2005, and ended up being the top vote-getter, which earned him a position as vice mayor. He earned the title again when he was re-elected in 2009 and secured another term in 2014 when he and Hughes ran unopposed. In between, Schwartzman mounted a run for mayor in 2011 but lost to incumbent Elizabeth Patterson.

      Schwartzman said he had a lot of proud moments of his time on the council, including being able to get the city through a “contentious” bargaining issue with the firefighters in 2006, maintaining a balanced budget, “hiring a new city manager who filled the department heads slots with high-caliber individuals and the stabilizing of attrition” and weathering the effects of the Great Recession.

      “We were a little late to the party getting into it and a little late coming out of it,” he said. “I think that we navigated it as well as we could do.”

      Moreover, Schwartzman is proud of the construction of the Rose Drive overpass in 2010 and doing a PERS refunding bond, which both happened during his tenure.

      “I’m very happy that we’re able to start to give back to the employees because we certainly had to, during the Great Recession when were going through budget restraints like most every other jurisdiction, do cutbacks,” he said. “I’m happy that we were able to get employees back to where they were and hopefully ahead of where they were.”

      Schwartzman feels positive about the current council and hopes the members will continue to keep up the work while taking economic development into consideration, particularly in the Industrial Park.

      “I think it’s gonna be extremely important that they focus on the Industrial Park and how to enhance it and have it continue to be a major force economically in the city,” he said.

      Additionally, Schwartzman hopes the council will stay on top of the water issue and ensure the city has good water for generations, main the 20 percent reserve and work toward appropriate development of the Seeno property.

      “It would be great to start to develop that appropriately because I think that it will go a long way for sustainability of the city,” he said.

      Finally, Schwartzman hopes the council will keep in mind the importance of city employees.

      “Without a good staff of employees, the city will not run properly,” he said.

      Schwartzman said he has a house in Oregon and hopes to spend more time up there after he finishes up his term.

      Overall, Schwartzman has enjoyed his time on the council and various government agencies as well as the people he has met along the way.

      “Some people call it a thankless job,” he said. “I’ve never thought of it that way. I always thought what the council does is positive for the community, and just knowing that was rewarding to me.”

      The candidates running for the council this year are Planning Commission Chair Kari Birdseye, Economic Development Board Chair Lionel Largaespada and former Councilmember Christina Strawbridge. Keep reading the Herald for interviews with all these candidates.

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