The Company Paper

Photo by Keith MayNot counting Laguna Beach's despicable Dorothy Fortune—who somehow snared re-election to the South Orange County Community College board of trustees—the biggest loser in the local elections on Nov. 7 was the county's Board of Supervisors.

The latter opinion is shared by the local edition of the Los Angeles Times, which blasted the board for ignoring public sentiment when it opposed the highly popular—and ultimately successful—Measure H tobacco-settlement spending plan.

"The measure's victory . . . serves as a second notice to the Board of Supervisors majority that it is out of step with the wishes and priorities of the residents they were elected to represent," the Times opined on Nov. 12. In March, the semiconscious board majority of Chuck Smith, Cynthia Coad and Jim Silva fought Measure F, the citizen-backed anti-El Toro International Airport initiative that nabbed an impressive 67 percent of the vote.

But the Times OC conveniently failed to identify the election's other big loser: itself.

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If the Board of Supervisors deserved a tongue-lashing (and it most certainly did) for siding with narrow special interests in the airport and tobacco-settlement debates, the Times editorial crew, headed by Stephen Burgard, has earned at best a dishonorable mention and at worst a royal ass whipping.

Earlier this year, the Times campaigned against Measure F and then, after its triumph, shamelessly posed as its benefactor. This fall, the paper marshaled its hefty resources against Measure S, the slow-growth initiative backed overwhelmingly by the citizens of Newport Beach on Nov. 7. The Times OC is now 0-2 on major real-estate-development issues.

The Times editorial page fancies itself a moderate, environment-friendly champion of the little guy. But in both the airport and slow-growth debates, the paper sided wholeheartedly with the Irvine Co. (If there was any mistaking the paper's pro-development philosophy, it was cleared up when the Times came out against two other slow-growth measures in Brea and San Clemente. Both failed.) The paper's management and the politically connected company are so intimate that the pro-development propaganda they spew is often identical.

It should come as no surprise, therefore, that Burgard and the Times immediately tried to soften the election blow to the Irvine Co. and other pro-development special interests. Burgard was silent on all the lies and calculated misinformation employed in the campaign against S and instead attacked the citizens. The paper's Nov. 12 editorial ridiculously urged the victors to "stop playing political hardball."

On behalf of his well-heeled corporate pals headquartered in a Fashion Island high-rise, Burgard whined, "Now that the elections are over, there is a chance to work toward finding the compromises and common ground needed to solve major problems." He admonished his readers to resist "anti-developer emotion."

Burgard's signal to panicked executives at the Irvine Co. was like a weird spin on the Times' current marketing slogan: "Relax. If anyone's connected to the Times, you are."

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