By Robert Haugh
Santa Clara deserves better: better news coverage, better ethics in campaigning and better transparency.
For the past few years, the City has seen an increase in transparency, largely thanks to the efforts of several Council members and a proactive Mayor who have fought for thorough transparency.
Recently, the Santa Clara WEEKLY published several politically-motivated articles and a cover photo that featured images of several candidates for office whom the Publisher opposes.
The cover story was regarding FPPC complaints filed by attorney John Mlnarik, who lost a City Council race to one of the individuals named in the complaints. He was also subject to an FPPC investigation himself, and sued an online blogger over content. Mlnarik lacks credibility and the WEEKLY features his complaints on their front page. This is not journalism. It’s more like an unpaid political ad. Speaking of ads – coincidence that Mlnarik’s law firm has an ad in the same issue newspaper? Santa Clara deserves better.
* According to sources, the WEEKLY has refused publishing letters from candidates that their Publisher doesn’t support – this is not only morally wrong as a newspaper, it is highly unethical. I will offer to print them here, so Santa Clarans can get two sides of a story, not just the WEEKLY’s side which we are learning is frequently biased and wrong. Santa Clara deserves better.
* I filed a formal complaint with the IRS regarding the newspaper publisher’s conflict of interest on the Chamber Board of Directors … The Publisher helps decide whom the Chamber supports then the publication then gets paid by the Chamber to advertise for those candidates. According to a Chamber board member Dave Tobkin: “The PAC uses some of its separate funds to pay for political ads, flyers, and televised interviews. Almost all of these expenses are paid to Chamber board and members.” That sounds like “self dealing” which is legally prohibited by the IRS. I think this is wrong. The practice certainly isn’t transparent. Santa Clara deserves better.
Robert Haugh’s column will appear on Tuesdays and Thursdays.