Sacramento Bee’s fact-checker can’t get his facts right

PoliGRAPH False

The political fact-checker for the Sacramento Bee can’t get his facts right when critiquing an ad campaign against Senator Darrell Steinberg, who is running for mayor of the state capital.

Ryan Lillis, who writes for the Bee’s PoliGRAPH feature to determine the truth or falsity of political ads, says that a mailing attacking Steinberg is “misleading” and “false.” Yet he can’t even get the name of a state agency right.

Lillis offers no factual evidence to back up his “fact checking.”

Here’s Lillis’ “analysis” of the ad: “The ad cites Senate Bill 25 as its evidence of Steinberg stripping voting rights of farmworkers. The bill was authored by Steinberg and vetoed by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2014. The bill was supported by unions, including the United Farm Workers, who have blasted the ad’s message.”

So in Lillis’ view, because the UFW supported the Steinberg legislation and blasted the ad’s message, Steinberg must be pro-voting rights for farmworkers. (By that logic, because Governor Brown vetoed the Steinberg bill, Brown must be anti-farmworker.)

But wait – there’s more:

“SB 25 would have allowed the state’s Agriculture Labor Relations Board to implement farm labor contracts secured through mandatory mediation even if employers appealed. Farmers who opposed the bill argued that it would have limited workers’ ability to vote on contracts before they were imposed, but the bill was not crafted to impact voting rights,” Lillis wrote.

Let’s ignore for the moment that:

  1. the Sacramento Bee‘s fact-checker got the name of the state agency wrong. It’s “Agricultural Labor Relations Board,” not “Agriculture.” And:
  2. the Sacramento Bee‘s fact-checker didn’t even bother to quote from the SB 25 legislation.

Fact: SB 25 was indeed written to weaken farmworker voting rights to decertify UFW

The fact is, that the bill WAS crafted to impact voting rights, because it was designed to limit farmworkers’ ability to de-certify the UFW. That’s why the UFW supported SB 25. And it’s one of the reasons why Governor Brown vetoed the Steinberg bill, because it would have gutted the state Agricultural Labor Relations Act (ALRA) of 1975 – the law that created the ALRB – by effectively disallowing workers from voting to de-certify a union that they believe does not serve them.

Here’s one of the vote-killing sections of SB 25: “If a petition is filed, the board shall issue an order confirming the mediator’s report and order it into immediate effect, unless it finds that the report is subject to review for any of the grounds specified in subdivision (a), in which case the board shall determine the issues and shall issue a final order of the board.”

That deliberately garbled language means dismissal of worker votes by fiat.

Shame on the Sacramento Bee for such sloppy, unprofessional – and perhaps even dishonest – reporting.

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