CAN releases second issue of newsletter

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CAN says the publication presents an alternative view for Malibu. Critics call it one-sided propoganda.

By Michelle Logsdon/Special to The Malibu Times

A second issue of Malibu Tribune has hit the newsstands, surprising some people who said the first edition was political propaganda and would not see an encore presentation. A publication of the Malibu Community Action Network (CAN), the Malibu Tribune’s masthead states it is “committed to saving what’s special about Malibu.” The first issue focused solely on the Malibu Bay Company Development Agreement (Measure M), which CAN opposed. Although the second issue covers several topics from coastal preservation to a profile of Serra Retreat, some say it is still a one-sided publication.

“The Malibu Tribune does not give both sides of an issue like a professional paper,” said Les Moss, who served as treasurer for the committee that campaigned in favor of Measure M. “There are many people in Malibu who don’t understand the political matriculations of either side and may be misled by the paper.”

The Tribune’s publisher, Tami Clark, said the publication was not meant to be a competitive local paper. Rather, she said, it was a vehicle for CAN to address some of the complexities of Measure M, which the group said were not being covered in The Malibu Times or Malibu Surfside News.

“It’s very hard to communicate with the public here in Malibu,” Clark said. “And we were dealing with a City Council that supported Measure M, and most of the editorials in the papers did as well. We just wanted to get the facts out there.”

CAN is registered as a non-profit 501c4 social welfare organization. The Center for Responsive Politics, a non-partisan research group that keeps tabs on political fundraising, says that gives CAN the right to lobby and advocate for certain issues. When the first issue of Malibu Tribune came out, critics said it was nothing more than an illegal political mailer. But CAN President Steve Uhring, who is also the Malibu Tribune city bureau chief, said he was not concerned about that.

“We have very good legal counsel … we just ignored the comments,” Uhring said.

The California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) said the format the publication used is legal.

Moss, who has filed a complaint with the FPPC concerning CAN’s financial disclosures, said CAN is an anti-City Council group that will use the publication as an avenue to fill the three council seats up for grabs in the April election.

“They can significantly affect the campaign because of their high funding dollars and others [candidates] will have to raise tons of money to compete,” Moss said.

Uhring said CAN does not have any City Council candidates in mind, and he doesn’t know yet if the paper will endorse any.

Mayor Pro Tem Sharon Barovsky discredited the publication by pointing out that it is riddled with spelling and grammatical errors. She said those mistakes should be a red flag as to the paper’s accuracy in its stories as well.

Clark admitted Malibu Tribune is not perfect, pointing out the first issue did not even have her name spelled correctly. But she said that adds credence to the fact that the newspaper is not vying for a position as a competitive, commercial newspaper.

CAN printed approximately 8,000 copies of the second edition of Malibu Tribune. About 4,000 were sent to residents and the rest were placed throughout the city. Uhring said the next issue will be published in January, but the long-term future of the publication is undetermined.

“There are many major issues facing Malibu in the next couple of years,” he said. “We would like to cover those and present an alternative view for the community.”