Saturday Apr 03 2010
Looking behind the scenes: Attorney general hunting for Placer corruption?
By: Jim Ruffalo
Re-registering the notebook while warning Republicans not to start the celebration just yet. Granted, the Democrats are making themselves nearly extinct, but please realize that this latest mass outrage of the electorate assuredly is bipartisan. Why else are some current elected officials busy removing the word “incumbent” from the upcoming ballot?... Of course that’s just a rumor, but many times rumors are the only way we learn what’s really going on. And those whispers also serve as an early warning call. While I’m sometimes forced to deal in rumors, be advised that I’ve spent valuable time on not only establishing their veracity, but also in trying to get somebody of substance to lend their name to them so that the gentle reader can properly digest that form of news. Case in point is a rumor drifting in from the Auburn Court Apartments. After Tuesday night’s explosion there, it was well reported that something nefarious allegedly was taking place inside the apartment where the explosion was. Sources informed us that it probably involved some sort of narcotics activity. I was especially interested in the cause, seeing as how — until the explosion — my daughter and her husband resided in the apartment immediately below the affected unit. My greatest concern was that the incident centered around methamphetamines, which is a chemical nightmare that has a cleanup effort requiring huge amounts of remediation, to say nothing of the human damage caused to nearby residents. Local public safety folks assured us it wasn’t meth, and as law enforcement types love to say: “The investigation continues.” Well, my sources tell me that this particular alleged illegal operation involved using butane to extract THC from marijuana leaves. If true, then no doubt some environmentalists will congratulate the operators for finding a use for those marijuana leaves, which many tokers refuse to use because “bud” is so favored. My sources add that the suspects allegedly were using the bathroom as a processing center, injecting butane into a large glass cylinder that contained the leaves. They add that the explosion was caused by rising butane fumes, which were exploded by sparks from the fan’s electrical motor. Sounds plausible, but just try to get any of those sources to go on the record. Oh, that’s right, it’s still an on-going investigation. Need another rumor? Well, try the one that insists that the state Attorney General’s Office has dispatched several investigators into Placer County on a hunt for governmental corruption. A good guess is that many of us feel that if the rumor is true, then they came to the right place. But try to get confirmation. Could this be an investigation into solar power contracts? Checking with my AG-office sources, I receive insistent assurances that the office never comments as to whether or not something is being investigated. Oddly, in the past I was always apprised off the record whether or not something was being investigated, but not this time. Supposedly those investigators began with a trip to Placer County’s county clerk’s office, but I’ve been assured by a reliable source there that just hasn’t happened. On the other hand, a very reliable source insists that not only has a local resident formerly connected with county planning been interviewed by these folks, but that another similar source is scheduled to be treated likewise. And we know for a fact that business records from another county are being gathered concerning a firm that has ties with another firm doing business with Placer County government, although again we can not get anybody to have enough guts to go on the record. Perhaps I should scurry on over to whomever is handling the publicity duties for the various departments supposedly targeted by this supposed investigation, but why waste the gas or the cell-phone energy. One of the very few things I’ve learned in my lengthy career as a reporter (please don’t ever call me a journalist) is that while PR types usually are personable and caring, they know full well their job is not to announce news, but to manage it. A brighter scribe than myself once insisted that “the job of a PR-person is to obscure the facts while seemingly elaborating on them.” So gentle readers, tell me what I’m supposed to do with information such as this. Do I just set it aside until that day — should it ever come — where some sort of official announcement is made? Or do I do what I think is best, namely print what I’ve been able to confirm so that the public is aware of what it’s not supposed to be? Frankly, I’m convinced that the latter is the correct course, although I could be wrong. And that’s no rumor. Jim Ruffalo appears Sundays in the Journal. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.