Our Letter to the Editor of the Acorn

Dear Mr. Loesing,

It was touching news that your recent opinion piece in the Acorn labeled our publication as “acerbic and anti-city.” Such bold statements. Let’s test your opinion with a review of reporting performance this past election:

• ListenCalabasas! reported David Shapiro’s misrepresentation on his application for City Council as not having a potential conflict of interest to report, when court records indicate that Mr. Shapiro was in fact the attorney of record for then Mayor Bozajian in Mr. Bozajian’s lawsuit against his employer, the County of Los Angeles. ListenCalabasas! posted online both Mr. Shapiro’s application and the lawsuit against Los Angeles County filed by Mr. Shapiro, whose name prominently appears on the 1st page.

The Acorn reported that Mr. Shapiro’s misrepresentation was a non-issue, and published a statement from Mr. Bozajian claiming that there was no conflict of interest. Were we to be surprised with this statement? After all, Mr. Bozajian was also covering for himself. In terms of reporting, Mr. Bozajian’s opinion does not change the fact of their bad conduct, nor does it excuse the Acorn for burying the improper actions of these two Council members. Notably, the Acorn did not provide any references for the public to review to allow its readers to form their own opinion.

• ListenCalabasas! dug deeper into the story, only to find that this wasn’t Mr. Shapiro’s first time misrepresenting himself in an application for a civic role. In 2001, he also misrepresented himself in his application for temporary judgeship, which got him into a host of trouble with the California Bar. He escaped by claiming his secretary incorrectly filled out the form, and that he didn’t review it as he was under duress. Mr. Bozajian went on record at the time to back up his friend. We think patterns of bad behavior are important for Calabasas voters to know. All of the court documents that disclose these actions were posted online by ListenCalabasas! so that readers could review on their own and form their own opinions.

The Acorn? Not one word.

• ListenCalabasas!, in January of this year, reported that Mr. Bozajian told the court that he had no money to hire an attorney for his case against the County of Los Angeles, and that Mr. Shapiro took the case on contingency. We posted a link to the court documents where these statements were recorded. Mr Bozajian told the Acorn that Mr. Shapiro was no longer on the case (we have yet to see a court document that acknowledges this), and that “nothing was done in exchange for the appointment.” Interestingly, the Acorn published Mr. Bozajian’s explanatory statement prior to his testimony in court, where he raised reasonable doubt. Mr. Bozajian has yet to explain the disparity between not having money to hire an attorney and what his terms were to retire Mr. Shapiro from a case which he originally accepted on the basis of contingency, all of which coincided with Mr. Bozajian’s nomination of Mr. Shapiro to the City Council. The lack of transparency of the professional relationship between these two members of the City Council is an issue we feel worthy of voters to be aware of.

The Acorn? You guessed it, not one word.

• We made numerous other contributions towards a more informed citizenry. It was ListenCalabasas! that reported it was indeed the City of Calabasas that made the decision to disqualify Liat Samouhi from the race. All that the County did was provide the City with voter registration data, leaving full discretion to the City. The Acorn made no investigation, and simply provided cover for the City by means of pointing blame to the County. It was ListenCalabasas! that reviewed recent City expenditures to uncover that $867,000 was spent on legal fees over the past two years, a significant portion of which can be attributed to litigation against seniors over alleged building code violations. It was ListenCalabasas! that reviewed 9 years of City of Calabasas financial statements to report an increase in City expenditures of over 300% since 2004. A complete and downloadable spreadsheet was provided to our readers so they could evaluate on their own. The Acorn again made no investigation, simply telling its readers that the increase in costs was for services expected of the City. Your publication gave absolutely no backup to indicate why it thinks the cost of City operations today are worth a 300% increase over the cost of City operations in 2004.

We also need to discuss your label that this publication is “anti-city.” Allow us to share our view. With apologies for our language: we are anti-bullshit. If that means “anti-city” to you, then that’s something we can agree on.

The time is long overdue for Calabasas government to be fully transparent, and not covered up by local press. The Acorn, Mr. Loesing, would have us believe we live in Disneyland. We have cronies in government who cover up for each other. The City spends money in ways that do not benefit the bulk of the City’s citizens and businesses. No city is perfect, but no city is beyond critique, either. If you don’t like what we say in our publication, then may we suggest that you do a better job with yours.

With best regards,

LC

All of the court documents referenced above can be reviewed at http://tinyurl.com/david-shapiro-calabasas. Please see the appropriate article for additional backup details.