Santa Ana council trying to quiet Orange Juice bloggers?

The Times finally published Jennifer Delson’s story recapping the story that broke last week, that apparently three of the Orange Juice bloggers, including myself, were coming under pressure by members of the Santa Ana City Council to either quit blogging or quit our respective City Commissions.

I am reproducing the article below. But first one observation – why is Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido taking advice from a convicted felon – Tim Rush? You will see that towards the end of Delson’s article.

I think she was very fair as to how she wrote the article and what is in it. Read on…

Santa Ana council trying to quiet bloggers

Three city board members and commissioners who write for have been asked to be less critical of city officials.

By Jennifer Delson
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

October 1, 2007

Some Santa Ana council members have told three bloggers who sit on city boards and commissions to tone down their criticisms of city officials.

The bloggers, who write for, often use inflammatory language and innuendo. They have attacked the motives of city officials, questioned whether favoritism influenced the awarding of city contracts, and criticized officials who don’t live in the city. The comments have led some readers to chime in with even greater rancor, including a woman who claimed to be the former wife of a city official.

“If there are board members that are attacking other board members or commissioners . . . that is a concern,” said Councilman David Benavides. “It’s no secret that these people were indirectly asked to tone it down. We don’t have any right to tell anyone what they can and cannot say, but we can say what we think is reasonable.”

Councilwoman Michele Martinez has asked the blog’s founder, Art Pedroza, to stop his writing or resign from the Housing and Redevelopment Commission. Martinez appointed him to the commission.

The council, Martinez said, had asked her and Councilman Sal Tinajero “to tell our commissioners to shape up.” Tinajero appointed the two other bloggers, Planning Commissioner Sean Mill and Thomas Gordon, who sits on the Early Prevention and Intervention Commission, which was established to combat gang violence.

Martinez fears that if Pedroza does not resign, the council could boot him from his position. City commissioners and board members serve at the council’s pleasure.

Pedroza said he would not resign.

“They will have to dismiss me,” he said. “Their complaints, for the most part, don’t reflect my performance as a commissioner but their disagreement with my writings. They knew we were bloggers when they appointed us, and they knew Santa Ana was the focus on the blog.”

Councilman Carlos Bustamante said Pedroza and the others were warned that as commissioners they should not make personal attacks on city officials in the blog.

Mill said Tinajero called him after a Sept. 21 council meeting and warned him “not to post anything that is a lie,” but “I haven’t done that,” Mill said. “I haven’t done anything wrong. Everything I’ve written is based on hard facts, and I don’t intend to stop.”

Gordon said that although Tinajero talked to him about his blogging, the councilman was more concerned about Gordon’s behavior at the Early Prevention and Intervention Commission. Gordon said the councilman told him that “I should stop acting out. I shouldn’t make a stupid face when I’m at public meetings. I need to conduct myself in a more professional manner.”

Gordon said city officials and former and current city employees, whom he wouldn’t name, told him that “the word is that if I don’t stop writing certain things, they will take away my position. They want to shut us up.”

Tinajero said he was concerned that the bloggers demonstrated no “sense of decorum that people should have when they represent the city,” but at the same time, he didn’t feel their free speech rights should be limited.

The attempt to quiet the bloggers demonstrates the increasingly vocal opposition to the traditional power structure in Santa Ana, where critics usually have stayed in the background.

“We’ve been the first ones to come along and talk, and speak about things that people call taboo, about things people prefer to bury,” Pedroza said. “That’s why what we are doing seems so outrageous.”

Viktor Mayer-Schoenberger, associate professor of public policy at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, said members of boards and commissions retain their 1st Amendment rights, which include blogging.

Blogging is “the democratization of the media, but it means more noise. It’s a whole new game, and it’s a game that is much more messy,” he said. “Compare this to a previous time when there were a known number of media outlets where [politicians] could call and even ask not to have certain stories run.” Bustamante said he thinks bloggers have free speech rights but, like anyone else, must maintain professionalism if they sit on a city commission.

“We appoint our representatives to represent us,” Bustamante said. “If they don’t agree with us and they don’t want to be part of the solution, they shouldn’t be on these commissions.”

Tim Rush, co-chairman of the Wilshire Square Neighborhood Assn., said he warned Mayor Miguel Pulido about appointing bloggers to city posts. Rush felt they were too critical of the city. Pulido did not return calls for comment.

Rush said Pulido told him, “Maybe this gives [the bloggers] the chance to catch some rocks instead of throwing them.”


Gustavo Arellano, over at the OC Weekly’s Navel Gazing Blog, has commented on this story. Thank you Gustavo for your continued support of the Orange Juice! The OC Weekly’s R. Scott Moxley also covered the story at this link. Here are Gustavo’s comments for your consideration:

A couple of weeks ago, this paper named the SanTana-leaning Orange Juice the county’s best blog because it represents the best qualities of the blogosphere: scoops, jocularity, personality, with a bit of libel and bad graphics thrown in. And some paranoid arrogance, we thought, after bloggers Sean Mill and Art Pedroza began insinuating that SanTana City Hall forces were conspiring to throw them off the Planning and Housing and Redevelopment Commissions, respectively, because of their hell-raising. We knew that the Juicers weren’t liked by Mayor Miguel Pulido and his pals, but we thought Pedroza and Mill were reading too much into it, as is the wont of anyone who becomes a burr to the powerful (ask Moxley how Sheriff Mike Carona and his goons treat our star reporter).

But it turns out that the Orange Juice conspiracy is true. Today (as noted by Moxley in his news roundup), Los Angeles Times reporter Jennifer Delson writes that Pedroza, Mill and fellow blogger Thomas Gordon have been asked to shut up by councilmembers lest the coun
cil throw them off their appointed city commission seats (Gordon belongs to the Early Prevention and Intervention Commission). Seems some folks (namely pendejo councilmembers David Benavides and Carlos “Forrest Gump” Bustamante) in SanTana government don’t like what they write. Delson unfortunately gives the readers no clue as to what the Juicers post, so we invite ustedes to find out for yourself. Good job, Juicers, and my apologies for not having drunk your Kool-Aid earlier. And gracias for making our choice to call you the county’s best blog look visionary.

About Admin

"Admin" is just editors Vern Nelson, Greg Diamond, or Ryan Cantor sharing something that they mostly didn't write themselves, but think you should see. Before December 2010, "Admin" may have been former blog owner Art Pedroza.