The Daily Courier has some explaining to do, but that shouldn’t surprise you. SUNDAY – Sept 5, 2021 – DAILY COURIER
The Courier says Herman Baertschiger Jr. falsely accused the Daily Courier of failing to disclose an application for a county grant.
The first part of this e-mail is Scott Stoddard’s Sept 5, 2021 article in the Courier accusing Herman Baertschiger of bomb-throwing. It appears the bomb-throwing is being done by Scott Stoddard.
The second part is Herman Baertschiger Jr’s response to the Courier. He has asked the Courier to publish his letter giving him a chance to respond to the Courier’s allegations. Of course, we do not expect to see this letter ever published as the Courier does not seem capable of fair and balanced reporting to the public.
The third part is on the front page the same day, Sept 5th that Stoddard wrote his inflammatory article referencing parts of what Shaun Hall of the Courier wrote regarding Commissioner Baertschiger.
The most important part of all of this is,
“Why would the Daily Courier be entitled to Covid-19 funds?”
YOUR CALL TO ACTION ON THIS EMAIL IS TO PLEASE CONTACT THE DAILY COURIER AND ASK THEM TO PUBLISH COMMISSIONER BAERTSCHIGER’S LETTER.
THE PUBLIC HAS A RIGHT TO KNOW
P.O. Box 1468
Grants Pass, OR 97528
email@example.com Scott Stoddard – Editor
Thank you, Candy Kaiser – Chair Communications
Josephine County Republican Party
YOU DO KNOW THAT MAJOR SARA BRISTOL’S HUSBAND CHRIS BRISTOL IS THE CITY EDITOR FOR THE DAILY COURIER?
ARTICLE WRITTEN BY SCOTT STODDARD
DAILY COURIER – SEPT. 5, 2021
Josephine County Commissioner Herman Baertschiger is wrong about a lot of things. But he has enough experience at repugnant political mud-slinging to keep his statements nebulous, effectively sowing doubt while remaining just vague enough so someone cannot definitively prove he’s wrong.
Not this time.
The one-time Senate Minority Leader insinuated Tuesday that the Daily Courier had tried to deceive grant administrators when the newspaper’s publisher applied for a Southern Oregon CARES Business Grant in December 2020. That is completely, unabashedly false. And the Daily Courier has the documents to prove it.
As the Daily Courier’s Shaun Hall reports on the front page of today’s edition, Baertschiger falsely claimed the newspaper “didn’t disclose that they had received almost a million dollars in two PPP loans. They did not disclose that and it was found out.”
That would be known as a defamatory statement.
First, the Daily Courier did indeed disclose every penny of Paycheck Protection Program money it had received at the time of its application for a county grant. In April 2020, the Daily Courier received $455,000 in PPP money. In December 2020, the Courier’s publisher noted that amount in the newspaper’s application to the county program. The newspaper’s second round of PPP money wasn’t even applied for until January, weeks after the recipients of the county awards had been determined. So not only is Baertschiger’s claim of fraud false, he doesn’t even have the amount of PPP money the paper had received at the time correct.
The documents prove Baertschiger’s tale is wrong. The timeline proves Baertschiger’s tale is wrong. And he didn’t even have the name of the program right. Baertschiger described the county grant program as “ARPA funds,” referring to the American Rescue Plan Act. ARPA wasn’t signed into law until March 2021, three months after the county program’s award recipients were chosen.
But wait, there’s more.
The administrator of the program was Southern Oregon Regional Economic Development Inc., or SOREDI. The organization’s executive director, Colleen Padilla, told the Daily Courier that “after listening to the 9/2/21 meeting recording yesterday and hearing there were some inaccuracies said among the Commissioners, I spoke to County staff to offer facts regarding this situation.”
Among those facts: “SOREDI did not reject this application based on purported fraud,” but because the paperwork was incomplete. And the Courier’s paperwork was incomplete because SOREDI’s online uploader apparently did not accept all the PDFs that the newspaper submitted.
Baertschiger’s habitual divisiveness relies heavily on distraction and distortion.
Distract? That’s a no-brainer given the commissioners’ abysmal response to the unfathomable number of COVID-19 deaths in Josephine County over the last five weeks.
Distort? That’s Baertschiger’s bread and butter. He excels at peddling garbage propaganda such as the mayor of Grants Pass killing Boatnik, migrant cannabis field workers causing the COVID-19 surge, and Joe Biden stealing the 2020 presidential election.
And now he has graduated to deceit, spreading falsehoods about the newspaper not once but twice in the same day, at a public meeting and during a talk show on a Medford radio station.
Baertschiger will in all likelihood be back on that radio show Tuesday. Will he set the record straight and tell listeners that he was wrong when he insinuated that the Daily Courier attempted to commit fraud? Will he correct the record at that day’s meeting of the commissioners?
That would be the right thing to do. But as Josephine County has learned in the eight-plus months Baertschiger has served as a commissioner, we shouldn’t expect the man to do what’s right.
This is Herman Baertschiger’s letter of reply to the Daily Courier
TO: The Daily Courier
15, September 2021
I would like to thank The Daily Courier for allowing me to set the record straight concerning Scott Stoddard’s Opinion in the newspaper, dated 9/5/21. I was amazed by the theatrical title as I have never been labeled a “bomb thrower” before. As his op-ed was published in the weeks leading up to 9/11, this was an insensitive and false accusation to lob at a fellow American.
Stoddard’s opinion focused on two matters. One; The Daily Courier’s receipt of two PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) loans and two; The Daily Courier’s application for CARES Business Grant in December 2020.
In the spirit of Stoddard’s December 30, 2020, editorial, he writes, “It is anti-ethical to the most baseline American principles of open government to keep this kind of information secret. Taxpayers have the right to know how their money is being spent by those who control the purse strings”. I agree that transparency is key.
Further, on May 27, 2021, his editorial states “Make details about how relief money is spent clear and easily accessible.”
I have the same opinion as him on both points. My only question to The Courier is how was The Courier adversely affected by COVID and why did the paper need taxpayer dollars to operate the newspaper?
The receipt of two PPP Loans by The Courier Publishing Company can be found on https://projects.propublica.org/coronavirus/bailouts/, just search Courier Publishing Company.
From there, you will find the first loan was approved on April 14, 2020, in the amount of 455,000; later forgiven at the amount of 459,276. The second loan was approved on March 23, 2021, in the amount of 450,914.
The second issue Mr. Stoddard presented was with the CARES Business Grant in December 2020, which was administered by the County. The County had contracted with SOREDI to review the applications and make recommendations to the Board of County Commissioners where I serve. The Daily Courier applied, but was not approved because the application was not complete. I will provide the email language from SOREDI to Travis Moore, Courier Publisher, dated December 22, 2020, on why the application was denied:
“Your business had a limited decline in revenues and unfortunately your application did not provide complete information to us to confirm FTE (full-time employees). In addition, we did not receive full information on your PPP documents.”
Now, in Stoddard’s piece, he stated that I insinuated The Daily Courier had tried to deceive the grant administrators. Please disregard this blatant lie and let the record show I did not. I referred to the language from the email between SOREDI and The Courier’s Travis Moore.
He correctly stated that I referred to ARPA FUNDS when it was CARES FUNDS they applied for. I made an honest mistake as both programs provided COVID relief.
To conclude, I would like to address the following defamatory accusations Stoddard directed at me: Baertschiger says Mayor Bristol is trying to kill Boatnik. That statement was based on the mayor stating she thought it would be a super-spreader event.
Baertschiger said migrant cannabis field workers causing the COVID surge. Check your sources Mr. Stoddard as I never said that. I asked our County Health Director if it was possible for the 7,000 – 10,000 guest workers in the county may contribute to the spread of COVID, given reports from the southern border and high COVID rates with these groups of people, and I asked what we are doing to reach out to these individuals concerning vaccinations.
Baertschiger said that Biden stole the election. No, my words from day one of the election were, “There are questions that need to be answered concerning the election”.
I hope this clears up a few things, the most important being that I did not say The Daily Courier committed fraud. My only question to The Courier continues to be: how has the Daily Courier been adversely affected by Covid-19 that it needs the assistance of the taxpayer?
Herman Baertschiger Jr
|ARTICLE WRITTEN BY SHAUN HALL OF THE DAILY COURIER – SEPT. 5, 2021|
Baertschiger falsely accuses the newspaper of relief aid fraud
SOREDI grant administrator refutes claim: ‘There was nothing fraudulent’ in Daily Courier’s application, she says.
Josephine County Commissioner Herman Baertschiger Jr., who has a history of making provocative and sometimes imprudent claims, was back at it this week. This time his target was the Daily Courier.
In comments Tuesday during a Board of Commissioners meeting, Baertschiger said he feared the Courier has been “attacking” the embattled commissioners in retaliation for not being selected for a county COVID-19 relief grant in December that was funded by federal stimulus money.
He then doubled down by falsely claiming the newspaper was denied the grant because the newspaper failed to disclose other federal pandemic aid it had received. The paperwork was handled for the county by Southern Oregon Economic Development Inc., or SOREDI.
“They didn’t disclose that they had received almost a million dollars in two different PPP loans,” Baertschiger said, referring to federal stimulus funding called the Paycheck Protection Program. “They did not disclose that, and it was found out. So SOREDI denied them ARPA funds.”
Baertschiger also made similar statements earlier the same day on a conservative talk radio show hosted by Bill Meyer on KMED-FM in Medford, broadcasting locally as KCMD-FM in Grants Pass.
Baertschiger’s statement, which insinuated the Courier had committed fraud, was wrong on several levels.
Like many businesses in the region that suffered a downturn due to the pandemic, the newspaper in 2020 had indeed received assistance from the first round of the Paycheck Protection Program.
The amount was for $455,000, clearly stated in the Courier’s application for aid for the county’s grant money, submitted online to SOREDI.
SOREDI acknowledged receipt of that information via email on Dec. 5, and on Thursday, the group’s executive director, Colleen Padilla, further verified it.
“Yes — we confirm you indicated $455,000 in PPP,” Padilla said in an email, adding in a later phone interview, “There was nothing fraudulent. You just didn’t meet the criteria. I don’t want anyone to be accused.”
The Courier has since received a second round of assistance from the Paycheck Protection Program. But that funding, $450,914, was approved in late March of this year. The application period for the second round didn’t even start until more than a month after the paper was rejected for the county grant.
Baertschiger also erred when he referenced ARPA, short for the American Rescue Plan Act, the Biden administration stimulus package that wasn’t even in existence at the time.
Why the paper didn’t meet the criteria for the county grant money is another story.
Baertschiger inadvertently exposed a glitch in SOREDI’s handling of the paperwork that likely shortchanged multiple businesses.
As it turns out, SOREDI required numerous forms from companies applying for aid but also required them to be submitted in a single PDF document. At least in the case of the Courier, SOREDI’s system apparently rejected paperwork that was submitted in multiple PDFs.
The extent of the rejections was not immediately clear, but Padilla said many companies, including the Daily Courier, failed to provide complete PPP documents. She said companies should have checked to make sure they uploaded documents properly.
“We required them to upload the complete PPP documents,” she said. “Apparently, many companies did the first page, not the whole thing.”
Daily Courier Publisher Travis Moore confirmed that the newspaper uploaded multiple PDFs documenting its PPP loan, unaware that SOREDI’s platform was not accepting all of the paperwork.
Prior to preapproving applicants, SOREDI did not alert any applicants who uploaded multiple PDFs about missing paperwork. It notified companies only after making its decision. Padilla said the process was rushed, to meet an end-of-the-year deadline.
Commissioners later formally voted on who got grants, amounting to $1.2 million to 38 companies.
Asked Thursday to explain his erroneous statements, Baertschiger referred to a Dec. 22 email from Padilla to Moore explaining why the grant was denied. He said he also looked up documentation about the Daily Courier’s PPP loans posted online at ProPublica.
He did not explain how he obtained a copy of the email from Padilla to Moore. He also declined to provide a copy of it.
He provided copies of what he found on ProPublica: separate pages showing a loan amount to the paper of $455,000 on April 14, 2020 — before the newspaper applied for the county’s aid program — and an additional loan amount months later, of $450,914, approved on March 23, 2021.
Baertschiger offered no apology but noted that decisions were made on the Courier’s application before he took office in January. He said he never saw the paper’s application.
“I wasn’t even a commissioner,” he said. When it was pointed out to him that it’s hard to disclose in December 2020 a second-round PPP loan that wasn’t received until April 2021, Baertschiger took half a step back, but stubbornly held his ground.
“It’s the first one you didn’t disclose,” he maintained, again pointing to the Dec. 22 email from Padilla to Moore, which said SOREDI “did not receive full information on your PPP documentation.”
When he was told that SOREDI confirmed the paper had, in fact, disclosed the first loan in its application, Baertschiger replied, “Uh-huh.”
Asked if he had anything else to say, he said, “No, that’s it.”
In a followup Friday, Padilla said in a statement that the email between her and Moore, the Courier’s publisher, was sent to county staff “to demonstrate our general response to the ‘declined’ inquiries we received.”
She said there was no confidential or financial information in the email. She did not say whether she volunteered to share the email, or whether someone with the county asked for it, or when.
She also said she heard about “inaccuracies” at the Board of Commissioners meeting on Tuesday and said she “spoke to County staff to offer facts regarding this situation.” “SOREDI did not reject this application based on purported fraud,” she said.
Moore, the publisher of the Courier, said in a statement that the paper never complained about not getting the county grant.
He said SOREDI explained at the time that other local companies that shut down or lost more revenue were the ones who were prioritized.
“That made sense. That seemed fair. So we didn’t pursue it any further,” he said.
As for Baertschiger’s falsehoods about what happened, and his motive for making them, Moore rejected the commissioner’s claims that the paper is picking on him and his colleagues in retaliation for not getting county grant money.
“I applied for the grant on behalf of the Daily Courier. I’m not involved in news coverage. I doubt any editors or reporters even knew I had applied for the grant. Plus, we were told this was a blind process — that the commissioners didn’t know the names of the companies they were approving or rejecting.
“How could anyone hold a grudge against the commissioners under those circumstances? It doesn’t make sense.” ———
Shaun Hall at 541-474-3726 or firstname.lastname@example.org.