This week, lame-duck Ada County Commissioner Sharon Ullman was in such a rush to criticize the Statesman — for what she calls inaccuracies — that she couldn't even get her own facts straight.
It all started Aug. 17, when we wrote an editorial criticizing the county's seeming preoccupation with the Dynamis waste-to-energy project — at, perhaps, the expense of the existing Hidden Hollow Energy project. Hidden Hollow has filed a $30 million tort claim against the county, saying the Dynamis project compromises Hidden Hollow's access to landfill methane gas, which it needs to run a series of engines that produce power.
Here's an excerpt from that editorial: "Hidden Hollow, which has produced energy from landfill methane gas since 2006, has built a second pair of engines to convert gas into electricity. But those engines aren’t running."
In a guest opinion that we published Tuesday, Ullman criticized a series of points in the editorial. Here's a key snippet. "Hidden Hollow Energy has never even BUILT the second set of engines at the landfill."
On Wednesday, Ullman blogged about the issue and linked to her blog on her Facebook page. The title of her post: "Idaho Statesman's Accuracy Stinks." But here's what she wrote this time: "Hidden Hollow Energy has never even installed the second set of engines at the landfill."
Built? Installed? One word makes a big difference. "Built" suggests that Hidden Hollow isn't anywhere close to expansion; "installed" suggests that the Hidden Hollow has equipment ready to go, if the issues about access to methane gas are resolved.
On Friday, Ullman said she decided the switch words "for the sake of clarity and accuracy."
Hmm. Kind of sounds like we had this right in the first place.
Ullman can chastise us for what she calls inaccuracies — but her one criticism that gave me pause centered on the status of the Hidden Hollow engines. And she didn't even get that right. So I'll stand behind the editorial. It accurately summarized the dispute between Hidden Hollow and the county: Hidden Hollow believes the Dynamis project will cut into the amount of methane gas available for processing; the county says it can provide adequate methane to Hidden Hollow's project.
If Ullman doesn't like Hidden Hollow's assertions, then her problem is with the company, not the editorial board.
If Ullman — a diehard Dynamis supporter — disagrees with our conclusions and our opposition to the Dynamis project, then that's perfectly fair game.
I do have an issue when our accuracy is challenged without basis.
Kind of like I have an issue when Ullman — a past winner of the Idaho Newspaper Foundation's Max Dalton Award for open government — sits on a county commission that has been far too secretive about its dealings with Dynamis.