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Return to Lamorinda: Angst, Dirty Tricks and Other Skullduggery

There's a downside to taking a little time away...

Never, ever take a vacation. Two reasons: one, it only takes about three days for the weeds to overrun your garden and, two, it only takes about three days for scammers, spammers, and political dirty tricksters to overrun your web site.

It seemed like such a good idea at the time, uttered with irony a la Die Hard's John McClain - "Come out to the coast, have a few laughs..." and when you get back to civilization and find a wireless signal -- there's a mushroom cloud hanging over your town.

Well, a cyber-mushroom cloud. What happened, you ask, crawling through the air duct with cables in your mouth, your email inbox throbbing with poison pen letters, cries for help from mortified users, more venom and inviting missives from hostile spammers you've never even heard of. I guess you can chalk it up to small town politics.

Picture me as Jimmy Stewart's "Mr. Smith," ripped from small town America and thrust into the meat grinder of big city politics. Only the big city politics are right here my small town, with political gamers harpooning rival candidates and dirty tricksters with skills enough to make Donald Segretti blush running bogus accounts and filling the comments threads with innuendo and invective.

Memories of redwood trees and blissful sea otters evaporated like burnt silk. I had trolls inside my perimeter - not the ones that live under bridges - much, much worse. These trolls are out to hijack comment threads and sling mud and innuendo to see what will stick. I came away feeling slightly ill.

The inbox was bulging and I've still not had a chance to make a real dent in it. If you wrote me while I was gone I'll be getting back, it may just take a little while. A lot of you wrote. I'm hearing of some burglaries in Orinda and Moraga, and residents yanked off about a number of different things -- from noise complaints to SMC's Brenda Hillman landing an Academy of American Poets fellowship (congrats) to new road paving underway in Orinda and a development planned for Moraga. I hope to get to all of it.

Yee haw, yippee ki-yay gentle readers (and not-so-gentle readers), I'm back in the saddle. Remember... never, ever go on vacation.

David Holden October 01, 2012 at 03:50 PM
Better lesson from that movie, "Never take your shoes off."
c5 October 01, 2012 at 03:50 PM
welcome back jd!
Andrew October 01, 2012 at 04:46 PM
Is it true your Big Sur hotel room was overrun with leaf blowers and road repair invoices ? - Andrew Moran
John Schwartz October 01, 2012 at 04:55 PM
Look on the bright side - this should eliminate about 95% of the complaints about your heavy-handed "censorship"!
Andrew October 01, 2012 at 05:37 PM
A lot of Hans Grubers to avoid around here
bekki gilbert October 02, 2012 at 03:42 AM
Welcome back from your coastal travels, but what's with the strange email reply?
Daniel Archuleta October 02, 2012 at 04:30 AM
It appears that his approach to running the site was not AOLs approach to running the site. I think he's gone.
bekki gilbert October 02, 2012 at 04:40 AM
@Daniel, That was my take too, but is it possible?
Anita Harness October 02, 2012 at 05:22 AM
AOL has an approach?
Anita Harness October 02, 2012 at 07:23 AM
I think y'all are correct. JD's page is gone and he's no longer listed as the editor under the Lamorinda Patch logo. A shame if true. But, Patch seems to have a great deal of turnover.
Chris Nicholson October 02, 2012 at 12:57 PM
Anyone have an alternate email for him and try to reach him? Too bad. J.D. felt like a "real journalist" and I enjoyed his writing / style. I would follow him to any new site he starts/moves to. I wonder if Patch gave him a two-year deal in connection with rolling his old site into this one and they didn't see eye-to-eye (read: $$$) on the renewal. Pure speculation.
Brad Katkowsky October 02, 2012 at 01:10 PM
Ouch. He is slowly being removed from Patch so I guess its true. I would follow him too. Someone else is definitely behind the wheel here and you can tell.
Chris Nicholson October 02, 2012 at 01:17 PM
Maybe he'll connect with Lamorindaweb.com and run a news/discussion format for them that would really drive traffic.
Peter Kendall October 02, 2012 at 01:22 PM
Time to fire up East Bay Daze 2.0, JD!
Tim Davis October 02, 2012 at 02:26 PM
Found him on facebook: john.oconnor.9461@facebook.com
Chris Nicholson October 02, 2012 at 02:35 PM
From J.D.'s Facebook page: G'morning, folks! As a few of you have already discerned I am no longer gunslinging for Patch, as of about 9:32 a.m. Monday. I would tell you we parted ways over editorial differences and they would say it was because I "didn't follow instructions." Come to think of it, I like their explanation better, so let's run with that. Suffice to say issues arose about our individual approaches to managing what was in-arguably one of the most heavily engaged, most profitable sites in their network and they won. Good luck to them. As for me, no rest for the wicked -- I've got work to do!
Jose October 02, 2012 at 03:23 PM
JD was an actual journalist. I wonder what will replace him...
El Cucuy October 02, 2012 at 05:47 PM
Looks like "Patch staff" is in the driver's seat now. Is that code for "unpaid interns aggregating Internet content from an undisclosed location"? Pretty soon every news outlet in America is going to be run by 50 journalism students working for course credit, an Internet ad team, and an actuarial board. Heck, maybe the future is already here!
Peter Kendall October 02, 2012 at 06:24 PM
More respect for you than ever JD - EBD 2.0, or wherever you go - we'll support you! Peter and Susan Kendall
Peter Kendall October 02, 2012 at 07:46 PM
"I wonder what will replace him..." News-clipping content aggregators in Manila.
Chris Nicholson October 02, 2012 at 07:52 PM
AOL/Patch still has talent, but at the regional level. I think site-level talent is tougher. Personally, I don't care for the regional / multi-patch content which I expect will increase.
Peter Kendall October 02, 2012 at 08:05 PM
I'm with you, Chris. I'm sure most of us have discerned an increase in posts/comments due to "regional" articles, and the concomitant increase in trolls.
theresa October 02, 2012 at 08:38 PM
el cucuy, i think that's the huffpo model!
theresa October 02, 2012 at 08:39 PM
"never, ever go on vacation" -- now we know why! best wishes to you, JD.
Jose October 02, 2012 at 08:40 PM
The Patch staff is not reporting on the local burglaries JD mentioned. Where is the "local"?
Jose October 02, 2012 at 08:53 PM
SKULDUGGERY: Synonyms: artifice, chicane, chicanery, gamesmanship, hanky-panky, jiggery-pokery, jugglery, legerdemain, trickery (or skullduggery), subterfuge, wile. Sounds like someone was jiggery-pokeried while surf-fishing the beautiful blue Pacific. Best Wishes JD.
Amanda October 02, 2012 at 09:49 PM
El Cucuy. I wish I had thought of using that name.
Anita Harness October 03, 2012 at 12:11 AM
Inevitable if AOL ever plans to stop the financial hemorrhaging. The amount of site-level talent that would be required is extremely costly. Perhaps, franchising sites is a possible business model.
c5 October 03, 2012 at 04:10 PM
best wishes to you jd...i thought this site was doing well and now this happens...
Nancy Lee November 13, 2012 at 05:20 PM
Looks like he has surfaced here at http://www.news24-680.com/

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