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Newshound (Newshound)
Posted on Wednesday, October 06, 2004 - 2:34 pm:   

OCt. 6-Irvine political mailer simulates city newspaper,OC Register
Irvine World News editor criticizes the look-alike campaign flier targeting Agran.

By JEFF ROWE
The Orange County Register

IRVINE A City Council election already pocked with angry allegations took an unusual turn Tuesday with the distribution of a political mailer resembling a twice-weekly newspaper published by Freedom Communications Inc., parent of The Orange County Register.

In typography, layout and size, the "Irvine Chronicle" bore striking resemblance to the Irvine World News' Thursday edition. The paper also publishes on Sunday.

The political mailer was published by IrvineFirst, a political slate composed of councilman and mayoral candidate Mike Ward and council candidates Greg Smith, Mike House and Steven Choi. The mailer contains a compendium of articles, editorials, letters to the editor and headlines first published in the OC Weekly, Los Angeles Times, Irvine World News and the Register. The articles chosen for the publication raised questions about Mayor Larry Agran's political dealings.

Newspapers generally charge fees for reuse of published work, and most papers, including the Register and Irvine World News, guard against reuse in political mailers.

"It's hard to believe they would try to pass off this campaign piece as the work of the Irvine World News, but that's obviously what they wanted to do," said Editor Don Dennis. "The Irvine World News had nothing to do with this."

But Sergio Prince, IrvineFirst campaign manager, said political campaigns reproduce news articles "all the time."

The Chronicle, he said, was "printed to have the look and feel of a real newspaper."

Choi, one of the candidates involved in IrvineFirst, said the 12-page mailer said the articles were reprinted exactly as a convenience to voters "so they can make their judgments."

Some did.

"There's nothing about what these people (IrvineFirst) are for," said Peter Gerrard, a training video producer. "How can you slam someone for not being upfront, when you put out something like this? Where is the dialog about where the city should go?"

That resonated with Carol Tipper, a high school math teacher.

"I just want both sides to be open, honest and candid," she said. "I find it ironic that (IrvineFirst) is trying to tell me how dishonest (Mayor) Larry Agran is when (the Chronicle) is trying to look like the Irvine World News."

Agran said he found the Chronicle "rather silly."

Ward could not be reached for comment.

Separately, the City Council continued until today a discussion of what to do about incorrect instructions that were mailed with absentee and sample ballots.

Voters were instructed to vote for no more than two City Council candidates when they should have been directed to vote for three.

The ballots were mailed last week - 24,080 absentee ballots and the sample ballot to all 87,148 voters in the city.

City officials are discussing options with the county registrar of voters. Only two council seats are open in the Nov. 2 election, but a third seat would be filled if Beth Krom is elected mayor.

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