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By Brian Hews
Publisher could have possibly perjured herself; Mayor Kelley, Councilman Mendez, City Manager Mike Egan, and Chamber Executive Director Vivian Hansen’s involvement questioned.
Emails between all involved can be found at the end of this article.
In an effort to secure the ability to publish legal advertisements for the city of Norwalk, Downey Patriot Publisher Jennifer DeKay-Givens has twisted facts and fabricated the actual publication’s date of establishment and printing of the her “new” newspaper The Norwalk Business Call.
LCCN has confirmed that DeKay-Givens could have exposed herself to possible perjury charges in the filing. LCCN has also confirmed that Mayor Cheri Kelley, Councilman Mike Mendez, Norwalk City Manager Mike Egan, Executive Director of the Norwalk Chamber of Commerce, Vivian Hansen, President of the Norwalk Chamber of Commerce Joe Derthick, Rob Cazares, Manager, Norwalk Outback Steakhouse, and Jesse Urquidi were involved in the process, although Urquidi bowed out later.
Using a law firm based out of Camarillo, Ms. Givens filed her notice to publish city legal advertising under Government Code Section 6000 which reads: A “newspaper of general circulation”… which has a bona fide subscription list of paying subscribers, and has been established, printed and published at regular intervals in…the city where publication… for at least one year. The notice is signed by Ms. Givens under penalty of perjury.
NOT PUBLISHED FOR ONE YEAR
Computer “screenshots” of websites show the Patriot announcing the “new” newspaper. It read, “Publishers of The Downey Patriot have launched a new weekly newspaper, the Norwalk Business Call, The Patriot reports”, thus implicitly violating the one-year publishing requirement.
The announcement was placed on both the Downey Patriot website and the California Newspaper Publisher’s Association website, but have since been removed. LCCN time stamped all screenshots; they are included at the end of this article.
Further, emails and documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act from the city of Norwalk show Ms. Givens initiating the “start” of the paper in May 2011 calling then Mayor Mike Mendez and asking to meet to “expand” the Downey Patriot into Norwalk. She used the word new many times in her messages.
On June 29, Ms. Givens left another message with Vicki Dilley-council secretary- asking to schedule an appointment with Mendez regarding “starting a newspaper only for Norwalk”. The message was sent to Vickie Yoshikawa who then forwarded to Mendez. to
On July 14, Ms. Givens called again and left a message about “expanding into Norwalk”. Givens said she had also spoken to then Vice-Mayor Cheri Kelley about the project.
On Sept. 6, 2011 Givens left another message for Mendez that read, “[Ms Givens] would very much like to start a Norwalk paper. Would like to talk to you about the possibilities.”
MEETING TO START NEWSPAPER
After Ms. Givens apparently successfully arranged a meeting, a Dec. 8, 2011 email from Vivian Hansen, Executive Director of the Norwalk Chamber of Commerce to Mike Egan, Norwalk City Manager, Cheri Kelly, Joe Derthick, Rob Cazares, and Jesse Urquidi reminded everyone of a lunch meeting at Outback Steakhouse Dec. 9 with Ms. Givens. In the email Hansen requested Kelley let Mendez know about the meeting because “we definitely want to include him our discussion”. Sources told LCCN that as soon as Urquidi learned of the scope of the meeting at the steakhouse, he abruptly left.
Following an apparent agreement forged at that meeting between Givens and all involved, a January 12 email from Executive Director Hansen informed LCCN that “my board of directors have made the decision not to print the [chamber newsletter] with LCCN. Effective Jan. 12, 2012, it will be printed by the Downey Patriot”. LCCN had printed the newsletter free for over five years at a cost of $3,200 each. The newsletter was published nine times per year, total cost over the five years, $144,000.
Following that agreement, a March 8, 2012 email from Executive Director Hansen to City Manager Egan read, “we signed the agreement with Ms. Givens yesterday to sell the Norwalk Chamber Masthead. Ms. Givens is moving forward with publishing the new paper starting next week and the first edition should be out next Friday.”
Since the email did refer to a Friday publication, Ms. Hansen must have been referring to the start of the Norwalk Business Call again implicitly violating the one-year publishing requirement.
A March 12, 2012 email from City Manager Egan to city council read “ Christian Brown is a reporter for the new Norwalk Business Call…would like to interview council members”.
In phone calls to the Norwalk Call’s published address, shown as located inside the Norwalk Chamber office, LCCN was told “Eric Pierce (editor of the Business Call), works at the Downey Patriot, not here”. Phone calls to the Downey Patriot office confirmed that statement.
Bona-fide subscription list
Another requirement to secure legal adjudication is a bona fide paid subscription list of paying subscribers to the newspaper. Most laws indicate at least 2,000 are needed depending on the size of the city. In questioning consultants, LCCN learned that it would be highly unlikely the Patriot could build a subscriber list so fast especially given the fact that newspapers are losing subscribers to the internet.
LCCN contacted Ms. Givens attorney Glen Dickinson of Light Gabler, LLC and emailed the documents refuting the adjudication filing. He refused to comment. “I cannot comment on pending litigation”, Dickinson told LCCN.
LCCN also contacted Executive Director Hansen asking why the Chamber allowed the Business Call to use their office address, the emails were not answered.
A third set of emails was sent to Mayor Kelley, Councilman Mendez and City Manager Mike Egan informing them of the findings and the refuted filing for adjudication. Those emails were not answered.
Copies of e-mails between all involved obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.
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