Accusations of Bribery and Payoffs in Napa Wine Country
For at least the last two years Americans have implored to become media savvy, to exercise a critical eye when evaluating the news. Among the things this must mean is appreciating the difference between rhetoric and reason; between claims and facts; between libel and reporting.
I was reminded of the need to recognized these differences today when perusing the Napa County Watershed and Oak Woodland Protection Initiative Facebook page. This is the official Facebook page of the “YES ON C” campaign that is attempting to convince Napans to vote “Yes” on the June initiative and roll back the wine industry in the Valley.
I was led to reflect on the issues of facts, rhetoric, libel, opinion and reporting when I read this comment on the YES On C Facebook page:
“Let’s remember who rendered the 9111 report: The BOS (Napa Board of Supervisors) hired the very firm to do the report which defended the BOS in the 2016 debacle of the first initiative, despite citizens’ protests. This is corruption with deep roots in our government. This is why we need initiatives: to take decisions out of the hands of people bought off by a very few but powerful in our wine and hospitality industries.”
This is the comment of Patricia Damery. Ms. Damery is an accomplished psychologist, entrepreneur and farmer here in Napa Valley. And it appears she knows something we all don’t. She apparently knows that the wine industry has made payoffs to the Napa Board of Supervisors in order to help defeat Initiative C. The problem is that she doesn’t say who paid who.
Ms. Damery isn’t just an entrepreneur, farmer and psychologist. She is also a board member of Napa Vision 2050, the organization that spearheaded getting Initiative C on the ballot. Now it appears she’s also the person with information about illegal bribes occurring in Napa’s government circles.
Except, the thing is, she doesn’t name names. And this is always the case when a person has run out of ideas, harbors extraordinary hate, and wants to lash out at their perceived enemies. They let dangerous, unsubstantiated claims fly without a single iota of evidence. I don’t know if this describes Ms. Damery or not. She may, in fact, have solid evidence that the wine industry has bribed members of the Napa Board of supervisors. If she does, then we also know she doesn’t have the guts or courage to name names. Maybe she is lying. Maybe she’s just spouting dangerous rhetoric.
I invite Ms. Damery to finally put facts where her mouth is: Who is bribing who, Ms. Damery? Who bought off who? Please, have the courage of your convictions and name names.
My guess is she won’t make this clear because none of it is true and she’s just making unsubstantiated, near-libelous, dangerous accusations…in a public forum no less.
Whether Napa Vision 2050 and the Yes On C gang convinces enough Napans to proceed with a plan to roll back the wine industry in Napa is yet to be seen. We’ll know in June. However, even at this early point in the campaign, we know the initiative’s most high-profile supporters are willing to make extraordinarily incompetent and dangerous claims in order to support their position.