ER - Article on private e-mail sparks debate


Article on private e-mail sparks debate
by Glenn Franco Simmons
The Eureka Reporter
An executive of Rob Arkley’s said he is disappointed in the Times-Standard for publishing a private e-mail that Arkley sent to local political consultant Richard Salzman.

Fred Griffith, senior vice president of acquisitions/development at Security National Properties, spoke to The Eureka Reporter and Times-Standard Tuesday in Eureka because Arkley was out of town on business.

Arkley’s business, Security National, owns The Eureka Reporter.

“(The article) was intended to inflame,” Griffith said. “I think it diminishes the Times-Standard to print that sort of thing.”

He also objected to the large headline the Times-Standard used on the story, which was above the fold in the most-prominent location in the newspaper.

James Tressler, the reporter who wrote the article, said that he was unable to reach Arkley. Griffith responded by saying that Arkley was out of town on business and was unable to return his phone call.

“We are in the business of making money,” Griffith said, in reference to Arkley’s unavailability. “We work very, very hard. We’re very, very busy and these … e-mails and stuff like that have to be prioritized.”

Griffith asked Tressler if it was ethical to print the e-mail.

“I pulled some quotes about ethical journalists and it says a journalist should show compassion for those who may be affected by news coverage,” Griffith said. “… It seems to me that what you’ve done here is you have gotten the Salzman e-mails and you used private information in private communication between two people with differing views and brought it out to sell newspapers. I just feel that is wrong. … If you are a journalist, this is unethical in my view.”

Griffith was referencing the Society of Professional Journalists’ code of ethics (www.spj.org/ethics_code.asp).

Later in the interview, Tressler said, “Well, you guys stick to making money and we’ll stick to putting out the newspapers. I’ve been trained in journalism, have you?”

“I know ethics when I hear ethics,” Griffith said. “If I send you a bunch of e-mails and you and I are having a disagreement, for either one of us to run and take them to the press and having the press print all of those things, that is unethical in my view because you and I have a private disagreement. We agree to disagree.” Griffith said.

He said he would rather see the community focusing on solving problems.

“Let’s make this place a better place,” he said. “Let’s get out of the ‘he said, she said.’ If you start blaming people, there is no end to the blame. All of this good, healthy energy gets wasted. It’s negative energy. It’s bad.

“… The Times-Standard has an opportunity, as does The Eureka Reporter, to take partisan politics and throw it in the garbage, and we all can sit down … and make this the greatest city ever and the greatest county ever.”

When contacted by The Eureka Reporter and asked about the community working together, Salzman said in an e-mailed response, “We have to be able to come together and find common ground. That is the only way we will maintain a healthy community. That is why the tone and threats of Rob Arkley’s e-mails were both alarming and disappointing. Once an election is over, we need to set aside our differences and work for the common good. But we need to start by having an honest conversation. …

“When all is said and done, the 60/40 mandate that was delivered to Chris Kerrigan is a reflection of the changing demographics of Eureka. Not so much my influence or Rob’s influence as a financier but that the new residents providing the very growth that has fueled our economy is (bringing) a younger and more progressive electorate not interested in playing ball with the good old boys.”

In relation to the e-mail he received from Arkley, Salzman said, “I feel disappointed. Not so much that Rob, a former ally, no longer likes me, but disappointed that an opportunity to open a dialogue has been trashed and trashed on poor intelligence. I’m frustrated that Rob knows so little that is accurate about me and my work, and my history in California.”

Salzman (salzint.com) represents commercial illustrators who are commissioned by art directors and graphic designers in advertising, publishing and corporate communications.

He moved to the North Coast because he said he loves the weather, the lifestyle and fishing. He relocated here in 2000 after spending the previous 10 years living and working in San Francisco.

He has worked on the local campaigns of Paul Gallegos, to which Arkley gave financial support, Jill Geist and Chris Kerrigan.