A personal perspective

press hat


There are rare occasions when the content of this column becomes personal and when the necessity therefore arises to step out of the collective embrace of “we” and into the voice of “I.”

The impending ballot on Measure B – the Hotel Limitation Measure – is such an occasion, in part because this newspaper is owned by Sonoma Media Investments, the managing partner of which is would-be hotel developer and my boss, Darius Anderson.

That relationship impinges on Index-Tribune coverage of the hotel limitation debate, if only because it can feed the suspicion that a media voice owned by a potential hotel developer must, by definition, be biased and suspect.

That is why, whenever possible, the Index-Tribune has relied on the services of Sonoma freelancer Pam Gibson – a former professional journalist, as well as a former city manager – to cover the story. We have tried to provide consistently balanced coverage on the hotel debate, and to the space in our opinion pages, although the opinion pendulum may swing from side to side depending on the fluctuating volume of letters and columns we receive, as is the case today.

These assertions won’t satisfy everyone – I know that – but in the end that issue comes down to the record of what appears in the pages of this newspaper. And on that subject, there are two very important facts all readers should understand.

First, as a mutually agreed-upon condition of my employment as editor of this newspaper, Darius Anderson and I both insisted he would not interfere in the content, the coverage or the opinions expressed in these pages. Anderson felt as strongly as I did that the editorial independence of the Index-Tribune is a public trust, and that for him to personally influence editorial content would violate that trust and damage the credibility of the paper.

Anderson has been good to his word, and throughout the many months of this increasingly-contentious public process neither he, nor anyone at his behest, has ever expressed a suggestion, request or demand concerning what we do or do not publish. Not once. That’s a fact.

Second, contrary to wildly misinformed statements by at least one irresponsible blogger, I have absolutely no financial interest in a future hotel, the land it would sit on or in any other business owned or controlled by Darius Anderson. I did have a very small, fractional interest in the Index-Tribune prior to acquisition of the Press Democrat by Sonoma Media Investments, but I surrendered that interest almost a year ago to clear the way for major local investors.

What that means is simply this: However good or bad, balanced or biased the news and opinions in these pages have been, the credit and the blame rest on me.

It also means that I have formed opinions over the last several months about the accuracy of claims made by all sides of the hotel issue and, in a companion editorial on Friday, I will share some of them.

But even before then, I feel compelled to dispel another preposterous rumor, circulated by the afore-mentioned blogger, that the Bank of America will soon unload its branch office on the Plaza to an unnamed developer who plans to build a three-story hotel with underground parking.

No one in Sonoma city government knows anything about such plans, which means the story is as empty as the source from which it came.

  • bob edwards

    You are a commendably serious person (albeit one who has yet to buy me a drink). So I assume you are serious about attempting on Friday to persuade readers that your opinions on Measure B will be uninfluenced by your highly visible employment, business & personal relationships with the newspaper and its ownership, which I believe — perhaps mistakenly — includes you.

    As a serious person, you probably appreciate that despite your best intentions and confidence in your own objectivity, the only one way anyone will believe you is if, at the end of your ‘independent’ analysis of the “accuracy of claims made by all sides of the hotel issue,” you actually endorse Measure B. Any fair measure of the Measure would clearly warrant that.

    I hope you do not take that as sarcasm from a declared supporter of Measure B, but rather as an appreciation of the difficulty you have set for yourself. Having proclaimed your independence of mind in the face of the aforenoted relationships, even those who are not World Class Cynics will expect you to prove it in no uncertain terms.

    Having endorsed or opposed candidates and positions in every election anyone can recall, merely opining on “the accuracy of claims made by all sides of the hotel issue” — even if laboriously done — is not going to carry the day.

    If you endorse Measure B, i will be forced to toast your independence, and your wisdom. And if as I expect, you reaffirm my faith in human nature, I will toast that, too. Even though I’ll probably have to buy my own drink. ;-)

    • Chris Scott

      MR Edwards;
      This is your argument, Measure B’s form of the question, have you stopped beating your wife.

      This is proof Darwin was only half right, You have proved the theory of devolution,

  • Phineas Worthington

    I think you’re doing just fine Mr. Bolling. There is no reason to believe that the IT as a business institution has diminished the ability of either side to express their views publicly on this matter in these pages. And everyone is entitled to an opinion on the matter. Unfortunately, at times, that may include false, hurtful accusations. Illegitimi non carborundum Mr. Bolling.

  • Fred Allebach

    My sense David, is that you have been quite fair in your role as clearing house of Sonoma public opinion as it pertains to Measure B.

  • Jim Pacheco

    Mr. Bolling, plans of the hotel at the BofA site have now surfaced. Just because no one in the Sonoma city government knows anything about the hotel, does not mean it is not in the works. There is a lot of prep work for any development before going before the planning commission.

    The plans for the 1st floor of the building, which the blogger you bashed just posted on the Sonoma Valley Patch web site, show that the BofA branch is downsized and occupies the front corner of the new building. And it makes sense to me that BofA would downsize its branch. Have
    you been inside the branch recently? More than half of the branch is wasted space.