Monday, April 28, 2003
Commission Says Valley Candidate’s Mailer Misleading
By a MetNews Staff Writer
An April 1 mailer by Los Angeles City Council candidate Greig Smith included misleading attacks on his opponent, a campaign watchdog group said.
In findings sent Wednesday to longtime school board member Julie Korenstein, the Campaign Watch Commission said it agreed with Korenstein that Smith’s mailer was misleading in four respects.
The commission is sponsored by the League of Women Voters, with support from several local civic and religious groups.
The commission said the attempt at the humor of the front page of the April Fools’ Day brochure was a cover picture of a person with long black hair, clearly designed to be a court jester.
“Because the nameplate on the desk ... says ‘Julie Korenstein,’ the commission finds ... the cover is misleading,” the commission said.
The group also criticized the Smith campaign for trying to mislead voters on such issues as Belmont High School, school crime and student test scores.
The mailer accused Korenstein of having “voted at least 25 times to build” the troubled Belmont Learning Center. The commission said this was misleading, because Korenstein’s votes in favor of the project came before safety and environmental problems became a subject of discussion.
The brochure, the commission noted, quotes a New Times Los Angeles article as its source but omits the author’s statement that Korenstein and colleague David Tokofsky “joined in opposing two crucial board approvals of Belmont.”
On the crime issue, the commission faulted Smith for noting that “school crime is at an all time high,” when in fact the district’s police department reports crime is down. Smith told the commission that the reference was accurate, based on data that crimes against persons are up, but the commission said the mailer was misleading because it drew no distinction between all crimes and crimes against persons.
The group also upheld the claim that Smith’s comments on test scores were misleading. They said he created a misimpression by juxtaposing a Korenstein quote that “test scores are up” with a statement by board member-elect Jon Lauritzen that “Barely 16% of 6th graders can read at grade level and barely half our students graduate.”
The commission’s findings were announced by its chair, ex-Councilman Marvin Braude. Commission members who heard the matter include attorney and MetNews co-publisher Jo-Ann W. Grace.
Korenstein and Smith, the former chief deputy to Councilman Hal Bernson, are locked in a runoff in the May 20 election to succeed Bernson in the northwest San Fernando Valley district.
Smith’s campaign manager, Mitchell Englander, disputed the findings of the commission.
“First off, this group has its own biases and doesn’t rely on facts,” Englander told the Daily News of Los Angeles. “Everything we said in the mailer was backed up by documents and news accounts.”
Copyright 2003, Metropolitan News Company