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Erik Wemple
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Posted at 05:05 PM ET, 11/11/2011

The Utah mayor, not to be confused with Richard Burwash

The mayor of West Valley City, Utah, has been busted for deploying a pseudonym in writing positive articles about his city in Utah newspapers. Mike Winder placed such stories in the Oquirrh Times and the Deseret News and on KSL.com. The little scandal raises some interesting questions:

● How will this bit of media trickery affect Winder’s political career? Winder told the Deseret News: “There will be people who will be disappointed in me because of this, but there will also be people who respect me for putting my neck on the line to get good [news] coverage for our city.”

● How did the newspapers not catch this practice sooner?

● How did Winder settle on the pen name “Richard Burwash”?

Because in a country this big, it’s hard to select a name that’s not already taken by someone else. “Richard Burwash” sounds kind of funny, I suppose, and perhaps Winder and his associates got a good laugh out of contriving it.

BUT! What does a real, authentic Richard Burwash have to say about this scandal? A Richard Burwash without quotes around it? Well, let’s take a look: There’s an authentic Richard Burwash residing in Cape Coral, Fla. Let’s ring him up and tell him about this pen-name thing:

“I have no idea what you’re talking about. . . . I haven’t written any stories,” says the real Richard Burwash after a quick explanation of the circumstances. After a bit more discussion, the real Richard Burwash quips, “I’m famous and I don’t even know it.”

Real Richard Burwash is 71 years old and spent a career in education; he enjoys telephonic chit-chat. He has two grown children. Not to mention a name that’s unique but not that unique: “I lost contact with him but I got a call, oh, ten years ago probably: Some guy called me and said, ‘This is Richard Burwash.’ ” That additional Real Richard Burwash was from Champaign, Ill., and was a “big farmer,” according to Real Richard Burwash from Cape Coral, Fla.

So there’s proof that West Valley City Mayor Mike Winder has slimed at least a couple of people out there. I suggest that he apologize to the good people of West Valley City and to all real Richard Burwashes.

By  |  05:05 PM ET, 11/11/2011

 
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