Mission Viejo 2009 Year in Review. OC Register grade D-

Happy New Year and Thank You from the Juice family to all of our readers who have collectively encouraged us to raise the bar of our news coverage.

We are unique. Simply read the many varied blogger posts and you will quickly discover that we have total freedom from Founder/Editor Art Pedroza to express our opinion on topics of our own choosing.

Based on your interest we closed 2009 with over one million page views based on 491,271 visits to our site.

Those are amazing numbers. Thank you!

To begin the New Year I am providing my critique of our local OC Register where I am being generous by giving them a D- as per the following assessment of today’s edition.

For those not living in the city of Mission Viejo who do not receive the Register’s Saddleback Valley News you may be able to verify their coverage by going on line.

Let’s begin with a major oversight. According to our Administrator recap of the top Juice posts this past year, coming in seventh with 2,982 page views, was my coverage of the city’s $400,000 Rose Parade Float project that was rather controversial. Not a word can be found regarding that event which began the year 2009.

Spin? The edition cover reads “Mission Viejo sees a boom in business openings, with the opening of a Microsoft Store, and Return of Farrells.” I would not call two store openings a business boom when we have a vacant anchor store called Mervyns‘ on Alicia Parkway and the 5 freeway but that’s my opinion. Let me not overlook two vacant big box stores in our Freeway Center where Linens & Things and Comp USA are history while Borders Books is currently in trouble.

I don’t think “burgers and fries” will offset the sales tax losses of any one of these big box stores.

Another overlooked story is the Mission Viejo activist Tea Parties that were held on April 15th and July 4th [during our annual Street Faire].  On April 15th we had over 500 people spend hours at the intersection of La Paz and Marguerite Parkways holding hundreds of signs. I covered both the April 15th County turnout and the Mission Viejo event. We have all heard cable TV pundits state that Tea Parties are more popular today than the Republican Party yet not a word of these two city events were listed in today’s Saddleback Valley News.

To ignore both the Rose Parade and the Tea Parties was irresponsible “2009 year in review” reporting.

My April 15th coverage of Tea Parties had almost 3,000 page views.

Let’s now look at biased coverage. The Page three “2009 Year-In-Review” sub title Reads: “Recapping an up-and-down year in Mission Viejo followed by “Below is our list of 2009’s top stories” of which they include a few examples.

The lead headline on page 3 reads: “Mission Viejo residents gather signatures in hopes of holding special election to oust Councilman Lance MacLean.”  While the reporter includes the recall election cost and an allegation of a petition gathering violation along with a statement that “The Orange County District Attorney’s Office launched an investigation of the allegations,” there is not a single word of the multiple verifiable charges against councilman MacLean as spelled out in the recall petition. Without debating final numbers there were over 10,000 registered Mission Viejo voters who signed the recall petitions. Some of those charges, as found in our Sample Ballots, include:

VIOLENCE when you were arrested by police for assault and battery on a co-worker.
ANGER and INCIVILITY when you ordered a Mission Viejo councilwoman to SHUT UP in a closed session.
HATRED and DISRESPECT when you called residents racists and elitists in a LA Times interview
SELF DEALING when you voted to double your council salary during our current economic crisis
GREED and CORRUPT PRIORITIES when you voted to give yourself lifetime medical benefits after only 12 years of part-time council service.
A TAX INCREASE when you authored and promoted Measure K, which was rejected by Mission Viejo voters.

These are but six of the eight charges, any one or two of which the reporter could easily have included if the reporter’s true objective was to provide balanced coverage.

Furthermore, the reporter’s headline is also wrong. There WILL BE a recall election on Feb 2nd. That is not what I would label “hopes of holding a special election” as it appeared today.

Another blown headline is found on page five where the Register story reads: “Mission Viejo Council Gives Residents a Dog Park, But Some Neighbors Voice Concerns And It Was Taken Away.”  Not true! Don’t yell fire in the movie theater.

The grade for this Register edition is a D- only because the follow up text has the correct information. While a proposed site was opposed by local neighbors, the city is currently seeking a more suitable location. Story headlines should be factual.

The fact that we opened a Sonic Drive-In, TK Burger and a Farrell Ice Cream Parlour are not what I would label a “boom in business openings.”

While they included “O’Neill and La Tierra Elementary Schools Close Their Doors” the reporter fails to include the city council filing a lawsuit against the Saddleback Valley Unified School District regarding their decision to close the O’Neill school.

n July 20th, based on the school closure, Mayor Ury promoted formation of our own school district which led to a $15,000 survey of our residents. My Oct 26th post of that survey had 33 comments yet the Register failed to mention our city reaction to the O’Neill closure.

Today’s Saddleback Valley News cover page has half of the stories flipped with UP & DOWN categories so that you need to rotate the paper 180 degrees to read both sub titles.

Under DOWN they include “A challenge to MacLean.”  I guess the newspaper is taking a position opposing the recall. If not perhaps they can explain what is DOWN about this citizen effort. Is this their not so subtle idea of an endorsement?

To say that I was disappointed in opening today’s newspaper would be an understatement.

About Larry Gilbert