03/23/12

For the Record: Community Planning Groups - Part 2

As written by Dave Maass in San Diego City Beat on March 22, 2012: 

County flack's email sparks activist uproar
Supervisor Bill Horn's spokesperson Anita Lightfoot attacks longtime activist Patsy Fritz

Community activists who subscribe to the email newsletter "Ranters' Roost" are livid this week after reading a caustic email sent by a spokesperson for San Diego County Supervisor Bill Horn to a Valley Center newspaper editor. 

In the email to David Ross, who edits the Valley Roadrunner, former Channel 6 broadcaster Anita Lightfoot attacks the editor's journalistic ethics as well as the credibility of longtime county activist Patsy Fritz. The issue: Ross' story on Horn's apparent goal of essentially eliminating planning groups and Fritz's verbal attack on Horn during a public meeting. From the story:

Mrs. Fritz ridiculed Horn’s assertion that planning groups cost the County too much money by comparing the cost of a toxic workplace lawsuit that a former member of Horn’s staff filed several years ago to how much the Board of Supervisors’ lawyer, county counsel estimated that individual planning members cost the county over the years. The cost comparison was $70,000 for Horn’s lawsuit, compared to $17 per individual planning member over many years.

Here's how Lightfoot responded:

Mr. Ross, 

As a former reporter, I am surprised at how many factual errors you put to print. In the interest of journalistic integrity, allow me to point some of them out. 

Supervisor Horn is not trying to abolish Planning Groups. Just because you want to believe it, and keep printing it, doesn’t make it true. 

This is not a witch hunt orchestrated by Supervisors Horn and Roberts. The California Fair Political Practices Commission clarified that the County is liable for Planning and Sponsor Group Brown Act violations. That kind of open-ended financial responsibility (you make the mistake, I’ll pay, you make another mistake, I’ll pay) could bleed the county finances. I don’t know if you realize this, but there are other planning groups outside of Valley Center. 

The RTRTF came up with a list of ways the county can protect itself. The options mean compromise. The Board is considering all of the options. You want it your way or no way. 

Your friend, Patsy Fritz, is creative but her numbers are way off. I suggest you check her math. She has an obvious axe to grind as a 2-time losing opponent to Supervisor Horn. And let’s not forget, she was removed from her position as a Planning Commissioner after a Board discussion on December 12, 2000. Even so, you don’t seem to question her credibility. 

Supervisor Horn is not dead set against Planning Groups. That is a lie. 

Your use of the word `planners’ is another example of being fast and loose with the facts. A planner has a degree and certification. It is an insult to our county staff to refer to no-growth activists with little or no formal training as `planners’. 

Finally, this article was posted as a news story. It isn’t a news story. It’s an editorial. 

I have answered your e-mails, your questions and even supplied you with pictures. I expect some level of professionalism from you as well. How about we start with honesty and integrity? The next time you decide to post a `story’ like this one, I have a suggestion. Go bite a dog. 

Anita Lightfoot
Communications Director
Supervisor Bill Horn

(For what it's worth, the "Go bite a dog" remark is a reference to the email signature Ross uses, a line from Billy Wilder's classic journalism film Ace in the Hole: "I can handle big news and little news. And if there's no news, I'll go out and bite a dog.") 

In the back-and-forth chatter on Ranters' Roost: 
 

From Charlene Ayers, who manages the Roost: 
"Honesty and Integrity? Aahhhhahaaagasp. Horn and Lightweight accusing others of unprofessionalism and a lack of honesty and integrity? Aaaaahahahahahahhaaaaaaagasphhhaaaaaaa. Too funneeeee." 

Other than Ayers, most of Ranters' subscribers and contributors remain anonymous when responding. Here's what one anonymous commentor said: 
"Sounds to me that Ms. Lightfoot needs to take a professional pill and stop calling people names." 

And from another: 
"Whoa!! What a bitch!" 

And another: 
"This letter from Anita Lightfoot is incredibly appalling for its defensiveness, ignorance, transparently biased accusations that the VC Community Planning Group members are 'no-growthers' (VC’s population will more than double with the new General Plan), contempt for the voting public and for its so-crude understanding of 'public relations.' She learned her trade … where?" 

And another: 
"I bet Ms Lightfoot is a joy on the freeway during the 5 o'clock rush hour....." 

And yet another: 
"Her ignorance and disdain for the voting public speaks for itself." 

And one last one: 
"Bill Horn... EAT ME !!!"

 

 

For the Record as written by Supervisor Horn’s Communications Director Anita Lightfoot in an email to Valley Roadrunner Editor David Ross on March 21, 2012:

Mr. Ross, 

As a former reporter, I am surprised at how many factual errors you put to print. In the interest of journalistic integrity, allow me to point some of them out. 

Supervisor Horn is not trying to abolish Planning Groups. Just because you want to believe it, and keep printing it, doesn’t make it true. 

This is not a witch hunt orchestrated by Supervisors Horn and Roberts. The California Fair Political Practices Commission clarified that the County is liable for Planning and Sponsor Group Brown Act violations. That kind of open-ended financial responsibility (you make the mistake, I’ll pay, you make another mistake, I’ll pay) could bleed the county finances. I don’t know if you realize this, but there are other planning groups outside of Valley Center. 

The RTRTF came up with a list of ways the county can protect itself. The options mean compromise. The Board is considering all of the options. You want it your way or no way. 

Your friend, Patsy Fritz, is creative but her numbers are way off. I suggest you check her math. She has an obvious axe to grind as a 2-time losing opponent to Supervisor Horn. And let’s not forget, she was removed from her position as a Planning Commissioner after a Board discussion on December 12, 2000. Even so, you don’t seem to question her credibility. 

Supervisor Horn is not dead set against Planning Groups. That is a lie. 

Your use of the word `planners’ is another example of being fast and loose with the facts. A planner has a degree and certification. It is an insult to our county staff to refer to no-growth activists with little or no formal training as `planners’. 

Finally, this article was posted as a news story. It isn’t a news story. It’s an editorial. 

I have answered your e-mails, your questions and even supplied you with pictures. I expect some level of professionalism from you as well. How about we start with honesty and integrity? The next time you decide to post a `story’ like this one, I have a suggestion. Go bite a dog. 

Anita Lightfoot
Communications Director
Supervisor Bill Horn