From the Publisher
Mayor Willie Brien in person is kind, polite, invariably courteous. Our issue has always been his official votes cast as a member of the Beverly Hills City Council. We have never said anything different.
As written in The Courier, we have three guiding issues: the subway under Beverly Hills High School; out of control public pay and pensions; and transparency in government. Mayor Brien differs with us on all three as evidenced by his votes, not his words.
From the beginning, Willie Brien refused to take stands against Metro to support the Beverly Hills Unified School District. That is the part that can be hard for many to see, because his opposition was behind closed doors and evidenced by the votes and positions he refused to take when it could have done some good. His website touts the subway. He believes in it. After L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa switched the route, Brien obstructed or actually blocked attempts to create a united front against Metro’s designs on our only high school. Only after the Metro political battle was over, did he authorize filing a lawsuit against Metro. Even his use of the term “historic core” on his website is an obfuscation – that only means “the tunnels still go under the high school, but they will move them few yards one way or the other.” It is not the same as opposition.
Newspapers in general vigorously seek transparency in government. He has repeatedly voted to block more transparency in government in Beverly Hills. He voted for hike-after-hike in water rates and even supported reducing the people’s 2-hour free parking in City lots. He has also supported City bureaucrats, higher pay, higher pensions—to the point where our City’s unfunded liabilities are more than $100 million. With a City budget of more than $400 million, he touts a $2 million plus-or-minus per year reduction in employee health costs (to quote his website: $90 million over four decades) as his prime financial achievement. (For these positions, go to www.electwilliebrien.com).
Those are matters of policy. The Courier believes we hold public officials accountable for their public votes. That is what The Courier has done.
Against that, he is extremely well-liked by many in the community. Our reporting of his votes makes his friends angry and makes us a target. So be it.
In a City famous for its civility, The Courier and its publisher (me) have seen THREE “hate mail” mailers, hit-pieces, and scurrilous emails in the past few days. That’s what happens to you when you report facts.
So, what is our offense?
The Courier has reported salaries, benefits, time-off, pensions, hidden plans to over-build Roxbury Park, behind-the-scenes sweetheart deals between Metro and developers, public appearances by Mayor Brien with Mayor Villaraigosa, reports from open City council hearings—in fact, the actual job a newspaper is supposed to do.
For that, our reward is mud-slinging and attempted character assassination. In short, pure “Chicago-style” politics.
The Beverly Hills Courier stands for Beverly Hills. The Courier has always stood up for Beverly Hills.
The attacks prove we are doing our job for this City.
That said, we repeat our endorsement of Vice Mayor John Mirisch, former Mayor Nancy Krasne and Planning Commissioner Brian Rosenstein for City council. Each has a voting record we can verify and each one has proven they “vote for Beverly Hills,” not “the region.” They share and support the same policies and decisions as The Courier, so they earn our endorsement. This election must be about policies, not personalities.
Note to West Hollywood Democratic Club and Super Pac: We endorse (not “hate”) Democrats. The Courier and the San Marino Tribune both endorsed Sen. Dianne Feinstein for reelection. The Courier has endorsed Mike Feuer in the past and just endorsed Richard Bloom. The Courier has endorsed Democrats Brian Rosenstein and Nancy Krasne in this election—same as you have. Clif Smith does not live in San Marino, does not practice law in downtown Los Angeles, is not a member of the Tea Party and is not on the ballot. The City of Beverly Hills newspaper advertising account is less than $100,000 for the entire year—split between The Courier, AOL’s Patch and the Beverly Hills Weekly. Not even $2,000 a week all-in for everyone. Most of that is for legally-required public notices and is paid by developers seeking permits, not taxpayers. You write that there are “hundreds of thousands of dollars” of City advertising.
Please tell us where we can find it and we will bid for it.