The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Editorial policy is incomprehensible


To The Eagle:

What a coup! Our former mayor submits a myopic view of letters to the editor and secures an instant inadvisable change to editorial policy, all in one fell swoop in last week’s Eagle. First, background: The vitriolic candidate trolling refers to letters criticizing our tax assessor, Bill Coons, and the first one was from Lori Hamp on March 22, before the beginning of our local political season. Next edition featured a response from Bill, and a candidacy announcement from Brian McClain, wisely accepting the opportunity presented. Next week came a complaint from Karen Cressa and an apology for Bill’s conduct by Colleen Haley of the BOE. Then a couple of critical letters: tax policy from Don Kinney, and a critique of Coons’s response to Lori Hamp by Kressa.

On April 19, I weighed in, and on the 26th came criticisms from Michael Baccellieri coupled with an instant response from Mr. Coons. May 3rd brought criticisms from Ursula Petralia, compliments from Poul Toftemark, a rebuttal by Baccellieri, and a defense of Coons by former mayor George Wehrfritz, who opines that “Tax men are never popular,” unmindful that Kay Cochran held the post for many years, retiring with the respect and admiration of the community. Then a month-long hiatus, ending with a June 7 comment by Baccellieri on Coons’s amusing ad about hating the assessor, and George’s June 14 letter condemning “prolific letter-writers”...“pounding the same point”… “steeped in the same bile.”

Cut to the chase: The only prolific or frequent letter-writers in the above mix are me, Ursula, and Poul, and we have contributed one each on the current brouhaha. Michael has contributed three, but he is the most grievously harmed. He builds exquisite and expensive small boats which he donates to charities and good causes (like the Wahkiakum Museum which has been cut from county support). As a reward Bill slapped him on the tax rolls, and when he protested, turned him over to Olympia, in keeping with the “no good deed goes unpunished” rule. All the writers had different points to make, all legitimate, all made relatively non-biliously, and most of the multiple entries were made in response to rebuttals and defense.

As to the shiny new editorial policy, it is incomprehensible that you would cut your local readership off from political speech while continuing to run the trashy anti-Trump pieces that are regurgitated from the Associated Press Novelty Shop. Most people I talk to think the Letters section is the best part of The Eagle, but it’s your paper, Rick – do what you gotta do.

Howard Brawn

Puget Island

Editor responds: Readers needn't worry about being cut off from political commentary. In the interest of fact checking, one should remember that Assessor Coons explained in his letter that after learning Mr. Baccelliere was doing non-profit work, he was uncertain how to classify the enterprise and consulted with Department of Revenue. To some, that is slapping; to others it is getting it right.

As for fact checking by the Associated Press: While recently going through an Eagle from the 1990's, I saw a letter to the editor asking for more state and national news, and we responded to that suggestion at that time by trying to include more AP reporting. The AP is staffed by professionals who do good work, so the agency is a good source of state and national news. I feel newspapers and the media in general are remiss when they don't shine the light on misstatements, and the AP does a thorough and respectful job in its fact checking. It needs to be done.


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