Ashland reacts to problems plaguing embattled editor

Despite the rocky relationship many of the city's politicos say they've had with Tidings Editor Andrew Scot Bolsinger, community leaders appear divided over whether a new editor should be named in light of Bolsinger's wave of legal troubles.

Bolsinger, who has been the editor of the Daily Tidings since 2003, turned himself into authorities in Salem on Friday after being told that a warrant was issued for his arrest.

Bolsinger is accused of having a sexual relationship with an unidentified woman in 2000 when she was a 16-year-old student at a private school where he taught history and journalism for about four years.

But it is recent revelations that Bolsinger failed to pay food and beverage taxes collected by his restaurant, Pipon's Cantina, for a period in 2006 that at least one Ashland city councilor is having the most problem swallowing.

"His not paying is not fair to the other restaurants, and it's not fair to the public because the public paid that money," Hardesty said in a telephone interview.

She stopped short of saying that Bolsinger swayed local news coverage to benefit businesses he owned or had interest in, including Pipon's, the now-closed Jefferson State Pub and The Main Source, a commercial printing company.

"The more businesses he bought up, the more obvious was the potential for conflict of interest," Hardesty said, adding that Bolsinger has contributed to the "polarization of the city" on such thorny issues as the Mt. Ashland expansion.

"Under his editorship he really did politicize the newspaper," Hardesty said. "A new editor would help &

somebody with a lot of integrity."

Councilor David Chapman said he sees Bolsinger's business troubles as little to do with his role as editor of the town's newspaper.

"He was always pro-business and he had some businesses, but I don't think that is a conflict," Chapman said.

Chapman said he knew that the city successfully sued Pipon's for not submitting the food and beverage tax it collected, but didn't make the connection to Bolsinger.

Mayor John Morrison, noting he and Bolsinger have disagreed frequently on policy issues, said he'd "like to see the newspaper as a partner."

He added that there is widespread criticism of Bolsinger and some of the newspaper's policies, mostly related to the newspaper's readers' response blog, which some say has become a platform for personal attacks.

"I am aware of the criticisms of Bolsinger, but right now is not the time for me to say negative things &

or positive things &

about the newspaper."

Councilor Eric Navickas, with whom Bolsinger disagreed with over the Mt. Ashland expansion, said now is "a good opportunity" for the newspaper to refocus and name a new editor.

"I cannot really imagine Bolsinger coming back as the editor," Navickas said.

Local political observer George Kramer said he was "sorry to hear" of Bolsinger's criminal charges and "further disappointed" to hear of his business dealings.

"It will be difficult for him to come back to Ashland unless this story unfolds differently than it appears it might," Kramer said. "In small towns you have your reputation, and it's hard to both build one and recapture it."

Kramer said even if Bolsinger is exonerated of the sex abuse charges and is able to "clarify" his finances it might be difficult for him to lead the Tidings.

"A lot of people just hear the charges and not the answer, and you don't have to look any further than the Pete Seda case to see that," Kramer said, referencing the legal troubles of the Ashland activist who is fighting charges for allegedly helping to fund terrorists.

He added regarding Bolsinger: "I have no idea if he is getting his comeuppance or if he's being railroaded."

Jeff Golden, a former popular local radio personality, said there is a presumption of innocence, a legal principle observers should be mindful of before rushing to judgment.

"It strikes me that although we all know about the principle of innocent until proven guilty, it's harder for us to hold onto when the charges are really upsetting &

and it should really apply to whatever the charges are."

covers politics for the Ashland Daily Tidings. Reach him at

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