Arnold, at a chance encounter [recently] you asked why I have not for some time now submitted a letter to the editor. This letter will explain my reasons. Until recently, I have given you a certain amount of respect for your practice of printing without editing all letters, however critical of you or anyone else. But I see clearly now that your respect for First Amendment protected freedoms is limited by whose freedoms are being trampled.
I refer, of course, to your lack of interest in, utter disdain for, and unconcealed glee respecting what Malibu civic activists are suffering for exercise of their Constitutional rights. The most important harm by far of the ongoing state Fair Political Practices Commission and Malibu City Attorney investigations of 1998 election activities, instigated by your disgruntled losing council candidate, is the chill on political activities, which has already fallen on the community and will grow worse as the ongoing investigations are prolonged to be political ammunition for the April 2000 city election. (How can this involve council persons Van Horn and Keller, who did not run for office in 1998? Arnold, I know you will find a way.)
These investigations threaten citizens in the exercise of First Amendment protected freedoms:
- to make financial contributions to the organizations for promotion of issue and ideas (slow growth, right to life, gun control, or what have you),
- to make financial contributions to the campaigns of candidates running for political office,
- to associate and communicate with like minded friends and neighbors respecting issues, ideas and political candidates, and
- to engage in such activities in public or in private.
It seems that your interest in protection of First Amendment rights wanes when you perceive a threat to what seem to you to be the rights of your developer friends to develop to the maximum. Your consistently pro-development bias goes way back. You were on the wrong side of the last failed, and then finally successful, cityhood/anti-sewers campaigns (lack of sewers, of course, being the main barrier to massive development). In the more recent past, you tried but failed to rally homeowners against Malibu’s slow growth, environmentally responsible General Plan and Zoning Ordinance with phony “down-zoning” and “won’t be able to rebuild or remodel your house” scare tactics. And now you are at it again, seeking to build a single issue ball fields, parks and playgrounds constituency for the upcoming April 2000 election by trying to paint as anti-kids and anti-young couples those on the City Council who are trying to negotiate a fiscally sound, environmentally protective agreement, providing for acquisition of the land needed for ball fields, parks and playgrounds and allowing the Malibu Bay Company reasonable, community serving development of its property.
Malibu would be best served by two newspapers, each responsible to report the news fully and fairly, while voicing its opinions in clearly labeled editorials. But I believe you have failed in this responsibility. Too often you have used your paper to abuse and vilify those few who have worked unselfishly and tirelessly for the good of the community. Simply put, I do not wish any longer (this letter being a last exception) to contribute in however small a way to the success of your publication and thereby to the real harm you do to Malibu. So adios, Arnold, and do your damnedest — without any help from me.