Critics say it’s an illegal political mailer
By Jonathan Friedman/Staff Writer
With only five days remaining until the Malibu Bay Company (MBC) election, Measure M, opposition group Malibu Community Action Network (CAN) has released an eight-page publication encouraging residents to vote against the measure. Called Malibu Tribune, the front page says it is a “bi-weekly publication committed to saving what’s special about Malibu.” But some Measure M proponents say it is nothing more than a political mailer, and an illegal one since they say it is not properly documented.
The publication contains numerous small pieces addressing various problems CAN says exist with Measure M. The front page headline states, “Measure M creates more, not less commercial development — the devil is in the details.” There are also diagrams, charts and pictures addressing traffic, environmental and financial concerns among others. No writers are attributed to any of the pieces, but there is a list of staff members. All are either CAN members or sympathizers. There are no advertisements.
“It’s like a newsletter,” said Tami Clark, who is listed as the publisher. “It’s an idea we (CAN) have been playing around with for a while.”
CAN President Steve Uhring, who is listed as Malibu Tribune’s city bureau chief, said about 5,000 copies were mailed to Malibu voters and another 1,500 were distributed around the city. He said new editions will come out after the election, something Mayor Pro Tem Sharon Barovsky said she doubts is true.
“Once this election’s over, that’s the end of that,” she said.
Barovsky said regardless of what CAN might describe the publication to be, it is actually nothing more than a political mailer. Since it does not contain information such as a political committee identification number, required for political mailers, she added it is also another example of CAN conducting a dishonest campaign. Although Malibu Tribune does not contain the number, it does say on the back page that CAN has paid for it.
Sending out political mailers without proper identification is a violation of the state’s campaign laws. Les Moss, treasure of pro-Measure M group Yes on Malibu, has already sent a complaint to the California Fair Political Practices Commission on allegations that CAN did not follow the rules for campaign financial disclosures. The commission does not comment on any ongoing investigations.
Uhring said Malibu Tribune is not a political mailer, but rather it is an actual newspaper.
Uhring said Malibu Tribune is an opportunity for CAN to get out the truth because residents can only get biased information from the city on the MBC Development Agreement and other agreements such as those involving the La Paz and Schultz properties. Those agreements are expected to go before the Planning Commission and the City Council in 2004. Clark said future editions of Malibu Tribune will also address the April 2004 City Council election and the Local Coastal Plan controversy, with the city’s proposed version possibly going before the voters in April.
“We have very little chance in the [local] papers for us to do our own editorials,” Clark said. “With this, we will be able to get out important information to the people.”
But Georgianna McBurney, chair of Yes on Malibu, said Malibu Tribune is a further example of the misleading information she said CAN has been distributing throughout the campaign. She called the publication “emotionally nauseating.”
Barovsky added that the publication contained numerous spelling and grammatical errors, including the misspelling of Clark’s name.
“They’re spelling is about on the par with their truthfulness,” she said. “When somebody can’t even spell the publisher’s name right, it’s not a newspaper I want to read.”