Press Talk: The Columbian’s part in the recall petition

By Lou Brancaccio, Columbian Editor



Lou Brancaccio is The Columbian's editor emeritus. His column of personal opinion appears the first Saturday of every month. Reach him at

Part 1 — Press Talk: More M&M boys drama

(This is the second in a two-part column on the recall petition.)

There must have been a lot going on in Councilor Tom Mielke’s head when he woke up Tuesday and decided to prominently include The Columbian in the recall petition he filed against three of his fellow county councilors.

I take that back. I have no idea what — if anything — was going on in Mielke’s head. Not on that day. Nor on any other day, for that matter.

Look, I like Mielke. He — as we say in the newspaper business — is good copy. But there must be several pieces needing repair in his frontal lobe. And there don’t appear to be any spare parts.

So when he filed a coherent 10-page recall petition, nobody — and I mean nobody — believed he played much of a role. I mean, this guy has never been able to string two sentences together that made any sense.

Anyway, the petition is all just bait-and-switch stuff. It has no chance of succeeding. None. Mielke — who has opted not to run for re-election — filed it to help his partner in crime, Councilor David Madore. Madore is running for re-election. And he needs help. Lots of it.

Madore and Mielke — the M&M boys — have been quite the odd couple for the last three years. Madore has always been the brains of the operation and Mielke has always gone along for the ride.

We’re all going to miss ’em when they’re gone. At least, us newspaper types will miss them.

The Columbian as part of the recall

As noted, the petition has no chance. It details a number of accusations that we’ve reported, but I was particularly bemused how we became part of it.

Earlier this year, we were awarded the title of newspaper of record, which simply means most of the county’s legal advertising is printed in The Columbian.

The M&M boys said we should not have received that contract. And in a very convoluted way, they offered up as proof that as soon as we got the contract we began saying bad things about them as payback.


First, the newsroom has nothing to do with advertising here. One of the ways we keep our credibility is to not hang around with advertising. 

But more important, the timing is all wrong on the accusation. Take this column, for example. I’ve been critical of the M&M boys long before that contract was ever awarded to us. But, hey, the M&M boys won’t let the facts get in the way of a false charge.

And although the recall petition notes The Columbian, it’s mainly going after me.

I’m the “most glaring example” of bad behavior, according to the recall petition.

One of the pieces of evidence against me is a column I wrote comparing Madore to presidential candidate Donald Trump.

“He’s a rich guy … check. He had no political experience … check. He’s a successful businessman … check. He says he loves the little people … check. And when he ran, he told us he would shake things up … double check! Now after witnessing three years of Madore World — I’m pretty ready to use a word to describe how it’s working:


Truth happens to be a defense, gentlemen.

It gets better

Not only do I write bad stuff about the M&M boys, Mielke said I was the creator of the infamous “Don’t Do Stupid Stuff” mug.

OK, I am guilty of that.

The mug features me and Madore. Where’s the problem? That mug was created in 2014, long before the legal contract was awarded to us.

And Mielke has additional complaints about me:

“Editor Brancaccio often appears at (county) meetings with the mug in hand communicating his unfavorable view of Councilor Madore.”

What the …

You see, Councilor Mielke, in this great country of ours, we’re allowed to voice an unfavorable view of folks. It’s that pesky First Amendment thing.

Not the tie!

But you went too far, Councilor Mielke, when you attacked my tie in the recall petition.

“He also wears a tie to the meetings depicting the M&M candy characters.”

You can go after me, even my mugs, if you must. But not the tie! Leave my tie alone!

Too much fun.