(4/12/10) Editorial – 2010 Election – Can We Please Get a Little More Accuracy?

This editorial is the opinion of Bill Coburn, publisher of Sierra Madre News Net and 15 year Sierra Madre resident.  It is not intended to reflect the views of any other person or entity with whom I am associated.

Candidate John Crawford has had on his website, for some time now, a photo of what are at least six-story buildings, with a header that says “Is this what you want to see in Sierra Madre?” and a caption that says “Then vote Joe Mosca, 2010.”  By his use of this photo with these statements, Crawford is telling readers (voters) that Mosca is in favor of mid-rise buildings in Sierra Madre, when Mosca has repeatedly stated that he is not. 

Candidate Crawford has repeatedly stated on his website that the DSP called for more than 300 condo units to be built downtown.  The fact of the matter is that the DSP didn’t call for anything to be built.  The DSP was actually designed to restrict building.  It was a set of guidelines to put in place limits as to what could or could not be built downtown.  Nowhere did it state that once the plan was in effect, the City needed to build those units, i.e., call for the construction of these units.  The problem is that the limits being proposed in the DSP exceeded what Mr. Crawford and others wanted to see built downtown.  But it is definitely not accurate to say that the Plan called for things that it didn’t call for. 

At the Candidate Forum at City Hall, Mr. Crawford informed us that the old fire station in the canyon had been sold to help pay for the DSP.  The money generated from the sale of the fire station was actually used to pay for the start-up of paramedic service in this town. 

After the Housing Element Workshop about a year ago, Candidate Crawford posted an article on his website with a misleading headline:  “Homes Listed as Possible Eminent Domain Seizure Targets For the Purpose of Building Multi-Family Low Income Housing in Sierra Madre.“ The article continued the inaccurate information:  “Below you will find a list of those homes identified as candidates for Eminent Domain seizure should the statute be revived. Once these homes are seized by the government they would then be razed and the property used for the construction of multi-unit low income housing. The notion behind this singular act of government violence against a selected few citizens here in Sierra Madre is to jam high-density housing into what is already a very built out town.”

Both the headline and the first sentence of the post contain statements that are just completely inaccurate. There were no (that’s right NO) homes listed as possible Eminent Domain seizure targets. There WERE properties that the City identified as candidates to be zoned for higher density. That means the property owners could, should they so choose, build, or sell to someone who would build, more units on the property than it is currently zoned to allow to have built on it. In essence, the move by the City would probably increase the property value for the owners, by increasing the options the owners have as to what they can do with the property. The City has not targeted these properties for Eminent Domain, or even possible Eminent Domain.  But Mr. Crawford uses words like seized, razed and act of government violence to whip up a little frenzy among his readers, the fact that it’s not true notwithstanding.

Now, in Sunday’s Tattler column, John is telling his readers that Susan lied to them in a front page article by claiming that LASD is taking over the SMPD.  Anybody who read the article knows this isn’t true.  Even John’s first quote from that article specifically quotes Susan saying just the opposite:  “Despite the fact that there is currently no executed contract between the city and the Sheriff’s Department…”  In her article, Ms. Henderson quotes Police Chief Marilyn Diaz denying that the Sheriff’s Dept. is taking over, she quotes SMPD Capt. Larry Giannone denying it, and she states that Supervisor Antonovich office has not received the necessary request for the supervisors to approve a contract for LASD to begin contracting with Sierra Madre.  Yet Crawford’s headline, in big red letters, is “Susan Henderson’s Final Campaign Whopper: L.A. Sheriff’s Dept. is taking over Sierra Madre.” 

Susan did say that she has been informed LASD officers are discussing the idea that LASD will take over SMPD, and that the deputies are positioning themselves for that possibility.  But as shown above, she made it very clear that that is not the current status.

I don’t know if Mr. Crawford is confused, if he was given bad information, if he has misinterpreted information, if he really believes the things he is saying, or if, and I hope this isn’t the case, he is purposely misstating the facts.  One would hope that a candidate for City Council wouldn’t purposely mislead the people that he’s asking to elect him to office.  One would think that he would have enough respect for the voters that he would check his information before he starts stating things as facts.  Yet time and again, Mr. Crawford has made statements that are just not accurate.

Mayor Maryann MacGillivray, in a letter sent to Sierra Madre voters, describes Mr. Crawford’s website as reliable, accurate and (a) valuable source of information.  Uh-oh, looks like it may be catching.

I want my Council members to be people that I trust will be giving me accurate information about what’s happening in the City.  That’s why I’ll be voting Moran, Mosca, Walsh on Tuesday, April 13th.