Taking issue with opinion piece promoting Rainier

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William Randolph Hearst used yellow journalism to create false narrative through headlines. Using false headlines and attacking truth is designed to cause doubt and confusion. Eventually facts are obscured, the truth becomes muddied, forgotten, and lies become reality.

John Burns is no stranger to attacking council members, or community members who do not subscribe to his agenda. He has a long history of using yellow journalism to manipulate the readers into believing something is true when in fact there is no truth. After reading his most recent opinion piece (“Getting the job done on Rainier,” Dec. 5) a few adjectives came to mind: desperate, careless, impulsive, irresponsible, risky. It read more like a hit piece with alternative facts.

Let’s start with a little history between John and me. In 1998 I was elected to the Petaluma City Council and in 1999 John was hired as publisher of the Petaluma Argus-Courier.

There was talk in the community about a potential sales tax, a tax the Chamber of Commerce was promoting. John reached out to me and we met at Hallie’s Café. John began pitching a local sales tax and wanted my support, and my support with a campaign. He stated he could use the newspaper to promote the sales tax.

That statement was alarming. John was willing to use his power as publisher to promote a Chamber of Commerce agenda, a sales tax. Our local newspaper was in the hands of a publisher, who would use his power to manipulate the outcome of a sales tax ballot measure.

Did John use his power to promote certain council candidates and attack others? History says yes. His most recent opinion piece brings me back to 1999 when he stated he could use his power as publisher of a paper to promote that sales tax. Today John is using his power as an opinion writer to promote a sales tax. Feels like full circle.

In 2018, John retired as publisher of the Argus-Courier. He soon came back as an opinion writer promoting his old agenda and promoting his candidates and their agenda. Is John being paid by a campaign? Is he being paid to promote certain council members and attack others?

History shows us examples of bad planning. Payran Street was developed in a flood plain. Building in Napa along the river, and the Barlow Project in Sebastopol are examples of poor planning. The results are flooding and more costs to the tax payers to bail out these decisions (hundreds of millions of dollars). Yet Petaluma continues in this direction, which to me and every person living downstream should be alarming.

Framing these stories in a newspaper is like outshouting your opponent in an argument. The opposition never gets heard. History matters as does truth. Yellow journalism has become the truth. John Burns needs to get his facts right.

CORRECTION: Janice Cader-Thompson’s name was misspelled in a Dec. 5 opinion piece.

(Janice Cader-Thompson is a former Petaluma City Councilwoman.)

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