HOW DENNIS ROLER AND THE DAILY COURIER POLITICALLY ASSASSINATES FISCAL CONSERVATIVES
October 10, 2013
I seldom read the Daily Courier anymore. My wife canceled our subscription 4 years ago when it became disgustingly obvious that Dennis Roler and his staff couldn't be trusted to report the truth. I recently saw a copy of the September 1, 2013 Courier sitting under a magazine in a corner of the break room at work. A cover story caught my attention and got me thinking.
The story was about a changing of the guard at the Courier. Long time editor Dennis Roler announced his retirement in the paper that day. He'll be sticking around until November. The complimentary parting bio they ran on him said Roler was a lifelong newspaper man with a history of being a top-notch investigative reporter. They gave 2 examples for an entire 26 year Courier career of his “good” work I don't think it's coincidence that in both examples Roler attacked conservatives. His boss said that Roler led the troops at the Courier with integrity and dedication. That's laughable.
Roler was anything but a top-notch investigator. As a former City Council president, I also have to question his integrity and dedication to the truth. With a whole newspaper staff at his command, all Roler typically did was write mundane editorials showing few insights with little evidence of in-depth knowledge of the subjects he wrote about. He could have dug hard to get to the bottom of stories but didn't. He skated by, taking the easy way out. His formula for most editorials was to straddle the fence and throw out a few soundbites. Roler's commitment to mediocrity makes it appear like he has government employee DNA.
Roler's True Calling
However, when hot local political issues came up, his role at the Courier was transformed to the level of political operative or hit man. In that role, Roler was very consistent. The objects of his attacks were never big spending, big government liberal bureaucrats like Grants Pass City Managers Bill Peterson, David Frasher & Laurel Samson. Those types were always off-limits for Roler. He'd sometimes attack the more conservative County government, but not the City staff, they always stood on sacred ground for him. The last 3 City Managers were eventually terminated or forced out by City Councils for various transgressions or inadequacies. Roler never bothered to print the truth about any of their shortcomings.
I haven't been reading the paper lately, but I'm sure that Roler has been and will always give liberal County Commissioners Cheryl Walker and Keith Heck free passes too, after all, he helped get them both elected.
Back in the late 90s, former City Manager Bill Peterson teamed with Oregon Dept Of Transportation to try to remove nearly 400 customer parking spaces from the downtown. For the first 2 years of the battle that ensued, Roler sided with Peterson and the state agencies against the interests of the hardworking independent downtown Grants Pass business and property owners.
Peterson was caught lying about project costs, lying about air pollution regulations and lying about other studies that supported his plan, yet Roler never initiated investigations on any of it. Only after it started to become clear that the efforts of Ward Warren and Len Holziger had turned the tide against that moronic, deceitful plan, did Roler change sides and support a vital downtown with parking spaces left in place on 6th st.
After Peterson was fired from his City Manager position, with no experience in construction, he was hired by Copeland paving, the very company that made the multi-million dollar windfall from the downtown paving project that Peterson fought and lied so hard for. A real truth seeking investigative reporter should have had a field day with any of this, but not Roler.
In the years immediately preceding my election to the City Council in 2006, out of control, poorly planned development in the Redwood area contributed to making Redwood Hwy one of the most dangerous roadways in the state. A lot of innocent people needlessly died on that road.
Developers and bankers made a fortune. Evergreen and other banks who financed the building boom frequently paid for full page ads in the Courier. That was enough to keep Roler and company from taking a stand and demanding that construction slow down enough to allow for sanity, safety and traffic lights along that dangerous stretch of road.
I was elected in large part because the people knew that safety was very important to me. I promised to do everything in my power to make those intersections safer. Once on the City Council however, it was apparent that there was little I could do because a majority of the City Council was made of bankers and builders who were too busy making fistfulls of money to care about people's safety.
The 2nd City Council I was on was a different story. I was chosen to be the City Council president and we finally had enough independent thinkers to take a fresh look at almost everything the City was spending money on. Most important, we had enough fiscally conservative votes to demand true accounting from City Hall. City Manager David Frasher was impossibly difficult and did everything in his power to stall and keep the truth from the Council and the public. That all came to a head and in a power play. Frasher led the City employees in the effort to recall myself and 4 other City Councilors.
Roler Sells Out The People
Predictably, Roler took sides firmly supporting Frasher and the big government machine at City Hall against fiscal responsibility. There were six of us on that Council who knew the recession was going to be devastating to our citizens and the economy. The City staff and Roler were still in La-La land. All 5 recalled Councilors had completely different political and personal philosophies, yet were committed to trying to help the people as economic times were going from bad to worse.
It was so twisted, Frasher and the recall campaign were rotten to the core. All the factual evidence was presented to Roler and he refused to write about any of it. No need for the great investigator to investigate anything. He had an agenda and the facts be damned.
It became a battle to sway public opinion and voters. Roler was happy to play his role. Whenever the City Manager or his staff or anyone anti-Council wanted to distribute propaganda, all they had to do was issue a press release and Roler instantly printed it as the Gospel Truth. I was the City Council president and never once did Roler fact check anything through me. One perfect example of Roler's intentional lack of due diligence occurred when the Courier and City Hall were ramping up their disinformation, recall the Council campaign. Without a shred of fact checking, Roler printed a half page guest opinion column from local businessman Dave Taley. Taley blamed the wicked City Council for eliminating his beloved annual hot air balloon festival. Only problem, it was all a complete lie. Nothing about any balloon festival had ever come before the Council.
Roler obviously couldn't be bothered to take 2 minutes to call me for a fact check. With Taley's “facts” that far off, nothing he wrote should have ever been printed in the paper. But as far as Roler's concerned, if it bashes fiscal conservatives, lies or not, it's fit to print. The tiny correction the Courier eventually printed was inconsequential compared to half page guest opinion. If Roler had lifted a finger to check out Taley's lies, he would have found out that Taley was well connected to City staff. Taley's intentionally misleading guest opinion was nothing more than him paying back the liberal hand that fed him. Roler loved it all.
Then there was the supposed background check done on Frasher before he was even hired in Grants Pass. It was allegedly done by a Grants Pass Police Department detective named Dan Runyan. Maybe not so coincidentally, Dan Runyan was also one of the chief organizers in the recall trying to get rid of the fiscally conservative Council.
The Mayor and City Councilors from Ashland, Wisconsin, the town Frasher had come from, contacted us and said Runyon had never spoken to any of them. They knew nothing of any so-called background check done on Frasher by anyone in Grants Pass. They offered to be interviewed by Roler. Of course Roler refused to write the truth about a liberal big spender who created chaos wherever he'd worked before. A real background check done on Frasher by the Police Chief in Ashland Wisconsin turned up plenty, but nothing Roler would present to the people of Grants Pass. Roler refused to help the people of Grants Pass understand the calculating, deceitful, self-serving, trouble maker the Council was forced to deal with and eventually dispose of.
Again using the Courier as a weapon against fiscal conservatives, Roler then printed a guest opinion column written by Runyan in support of the recall. This is the same City employee Runyan who was paid to do the supposed background check on Frasher and the same Runyan who was a leader in the recall. The Courier repeatedly identified Runyan as a retired Grants Pass cop. Trouble was, Runyan was still working for the cops and was still on the Grants Pass city payroll. He was working in the evidence room for the police dept. Many say he was paid with taxpayer money for time he spent working and organizing the recall. With his eyes squeezed tightly shut, Roler saw nothing to investigate.
City Councilors started asking questions about all this. How much was Runyan paid for doing the supposed background check? Was he still employed by the City or was he retired like the Courier alleged?
Instead of investigating, Roler wrote in the Courier that City Councilors asking these questions were abusing their power. Rather than investigate, in the name big spending and liberalism, Roler did whatever he could to sweep Runyan's misrepresented employment status all neatly under the rug.
Interesting to note that Police Chief Joe Henner could have stepped up publicly and offered the truth about Runyan's ongoing city employment but chose to sit back silently in his pretty blue uniform and allow the lie to continue. From its top cop, the people of Grants Pass got a lie of omission.
Roler Goes Fishing, Gets Skunked, Makes Up Big Fish Story
Trying to discredit the Council right before the recall election, Roler & the Courier then made the legal demand to see all 5 Councilors personal emails. Roler and the Courier were sure they'd find evidence that the Council had discussed firing Frasher in the emails, outside of a public meeting. If we had done that it would have been illegal, a violation of public meeting law. Of course we broke no laws.
Roler and his team investigated over 500 of our emails and found NOTHING. They were so humiliated by being so wrong, they started making stuff up. Insane as it sounds, the Courier actually wrote that we had violated something they referred to as the Daisy Chain email law. No one had ever heard of it. We strictly and carefully followed the guidelines in the City Charter in our communications. But to cover his butt for being so wrong about our emails, on the Courier front page Roler called us all lawbreakers. Roler and his bosses obviously knew full well that elected officials are sitting ducks and that legally there is virtually no such thing as slander against public officials. He was in the clear to say whatever he pleased, no matter how false.
Ultimately, Roler succeeded in helping reckless spending liberal bureaucrats in City Hall get rid of 5 fiscally conservative, honest Councilors who were putting on the brakes. Roler kept the lies about Runyan being retired under wraps. Roler refused to interview City officials from Ashland, Wi who knew the truth about Frasher's past. Roler refused to investigate the fact that they all said Runyan never checked Frasher's background with them.
A former City Attorney with whom Frasher had worked at his prior job said that it took his town 10 years to get over Frasher's destructive actions. Roler refused to contact him for a story. In the end, Roler refused to print the truth about the battle between the 5 fiscally conservative Councilors trying to corral a culture of runaway government spending. This is the same Roler they now say did a good job of "investigative reporting." Roler only investigates\fabricates stories about fiscal conservatives. Liberals are hands off no matter how incompetent or deceitful they may be.
After myself and the others were removed from office, liberal Mayor Mike Murphy appointed replacement Councilors in a secret backroom appointment process with no open applications or public process. The new appointees gave new City Manager Laurel Samson a severance package worth nearly a quarter of million dollars. No one in the local media said a word. To Roler a liberal mayor holding secret meetings that ultimately cost the people a quarter million is not nearly as news worthy as fabricated violations of his made up Daisy Chain email law. Integrity and dedication???? Puleeze, pass the alka-seltzer.
When the Oregon State Attorney General later found Frasher, and Sampson guilty of violating the Oregon State election laws as charged by the Oregon Secretary of State and were fined, there were no headlines from Roler. Instead buried far in the back pages was a short story minimizing their convictions.
Roler's Double Standards
Look at the difference. When Roler fabricated nonsense about fiscally conservative Councilors breaking his made up email law, he put it on the front page and his editorial page at least 3 times. His accusation was so stupid it was never even acknowledged by the Attorney General. When the City Manager and Assistant City Manager were convicted of breaking the law to rig an election to raise taxes Roler buried it.
Recently I heard about the Sheriff presenting crime figures that were off by 4000%. Apparently a 4000% mistake is not enough for the Courier to investigate. That's probably because higher crime figures, even if completely false helps to sell higher taxes and more government, liberals bread & butter.
Now that liberal County Commissioner Cheryl Walker has been caught in a series of lies about the money grabbing nuisance ordinances she's trying to bulldoze through, you can bet Roler and the Courier will ignore it too. Roler loves giving liberals the get-out-of-jail-free card, in his news monopoly game. What makes this so dangerous to a town like Grants Pass is that until now, the Courier has been the only news source. Under Roler, the Courier abdicated it's responsibility to the people to report fully and honestly about the local government.
Despite the Courier's phony claims about Roler in their Sept 1st edition, Dennis Roler is anything but a top-notch investigative reporter. In fact, he is a lazy reporter that knows he can say anything about conservative public officials and get away with it. Too bad he abused his power and went after the 5 honest City Councilors instead of the real villains. In the end it was the people who lost.
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Last year, word at work was that the Courier supported the recall of a County Commissioner who was near the end of her term. It cost the cash strapped County government $45,000 for the recall election. I haven't heard from anyone how the people benefited from that. But it helped to discredit conservatives and that's what Roler does whenever he has the chance.
Roler wears his allegiance to liberal big government on his sleeve. It's not surprising. His wife is a state government worker in line for a fat PERS pension that Roler will be feeding off of for rest of his life.
© 2013 Bill Kangas - All Rights Reserved
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5- Bill Kangas, Grants Pass Recall and David Frasher, 3-2-10
Bill Kangas has lived in Grants
Pass for nearly 40 years and has worked with hundreds of people,
for many causes making Grants Pass a better place. He was elected
to the Grants Pass City Council in 2006 and named Council president
E-Mail: [email protected]