Teditorial: Sun News tries to clarify issue of political ad mailers

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As most of Seal Beach knows by now, there have been political mailers sent to residents in District 1, regarding one of the runoff candidates for City Council. The Sun’s story on the issue is on page 1.

There has also been some backlash toward the Sun because an article that ran on Dec. 20 was used as part of the mailer’s attack on candidate Joe Kalmick. These types of political mailers are common and often cite media outlets as the source of information. As a news organization, we have to accept that fact.

However, we stand by our assertion that much of the mailer was taken out of context and that words that were not in the story were added to inflame the message. The Sun story that is used was intended to be a profile on outgoing City Clerk Robin Roberts.

During the interview, she noted that over the years, there has been a lot of displeasure among some of the residents, often aimed at elected city officials and city staff. One such incident was cited as an example. It was described in way that did not identify the person and was used as an anonymous story to illustrate some of the things that have occurred.

Incidents like these were part of the reason that Roberts had decided to leave her position. Since no one was identified and there were reportedly no criminal charges filed, it was left in the story.

As noted in the article on page one of this issue, we were not aware that the person described in the story was a candidate in the runoff. Almost as soon as the article was published, we began to get tips that it was indeed Kalmick. The Sun put in a public records request for the surveillance video and received it on Dec. 28. Viewing the video on that day, was the first time the Sun staff had personally seen the incident and verified that it was indeed Kalmick.

With crunched deadlines because of the New Year’s Day holiday, the story was set aside as we planned to figure out the next best step after Jan. 1.

We reached out to Kalmick and Ellery Deaton, as she was in the video as a witness, to see if they would be willing to speak with the Sun after the new year.

By Jan. 4, tips began to arrive noting that emails, social media posts and flyers were already citing Kalmick as the person described in the story.

On Monday, Jan. 7, the first mailers showed up and from there the story took on a life of its own. Sun staffer reached out to individuals again, and on Jan. 10, the second mailer arrived.

At that point, the Sun had not printed Kalmick’s name in any story or online post about the incident. Yet, the California Taxpayer Protection Committee had connected the dots, produced a mailer, and already had it on the streets.

From there, the Sun was essentially following up on a story we were not even sure we were going to report. However, it begs the question of how the CTPC was so quick to put all this together. There have already been multiple conspiracy theories bandied about, that I have heard. Residents have probably heard even more.

But here’s the good news, District 1, you still have the power. You still have the power to decide who you want to represent your district and your city. If you have not mailed in your ballot, you have the power to make your voice heard.

PACs are created to try to influence elections, that’s their function. As a voter, you have the power to listen to them, or not.

As for the Sun, our editorial policy is that we do not endorse any candidate. We have always and will continue to try and be fair and accurate in our reporting. And to be a voice for the community.

Ted Apodaca is the editor of the Sun News. He can be reached at 562-317-1100 or at editor@sunnews.org.

 

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