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Opinion: Shooting the Messenger


By Brian Hews

During the Cerritos City Council meeting June 28, the council debated the $119 million city budget. Councilman Pulido led off, talked about tree cutting, and mentioned how he wanted to restore funding to keep Sky Knight, which was cut out of the budget.


Sky Knight is the helicopter service that assists our Cerritos Sheriffs. Only Cerritos and Hawaiian Gardens use this service, Lakewood is deciding. No other cities in the area use this service; they use the free LA Sheriff’s helicopter service.


Fast forward to closing comments. Barrows led off (unusually out of turn) and reviewed big picture expenses, those “they can address easily”: the Water subsidy ($1.5 million); Sheriff’s budget ($11.5 million); the Power-plant ($3 million expense). This can be seen on the Cerritos website under Council Meetings, June 28, time stamp 1:04:15

It was then that Barrows initiated his calculated and orchestrated (with the council) political payback scheme to intentionally inflict financial damage on LCCN. The reason, Shoot the Messenger: LCCN writing about his battery charge (P.C. 242) against Jay Gray, a story Barrows called a complete lie but one we all now know is true. Following is a chronological order of the meeting with timestamps in parentheses. You can view the meeting online at the city’s website and judge for yourself.

Barrows talked about $16 million in expenses (at 1:06:40) and suddenly began talking about the $250,000 city print advertising budget (which is .0025% of the overall budget). He talked about “how it is duplicated, how there is no evidence of benefits to the city”. One high-ranking staffer at the meeting told LCCN, “that came out of left field we did not know where he (Barrows) was coming from.”

Barrows then pointed to Pulido and said “…Mark this is to address your Sky Knight issue…. I would like to have the council eliminate the city print advertising from the budget.” At (1:08:05) Barrows said if you (Council) do not vote to eliminate the city’s print advertising budget, I will not vote for Sky Knight, his direct quote,  “ if we do that (cut advertising) I will vote to restore funding for Sky Night because that is where the money should come from.”

Next to speak was Councilwomen Chen (1:14:35). Chen spoke for eight minutes about how Cerritos staff did a great job of streamlining the budget, and needing to find new revenue streams. At 1:22: 11, like Barrows and Pulido, she abruptly started talking about the  .0025 % advertising budget and how we should “cut print advertising and move to online sources.”

After Chen finished, Pulido talked about $2.5 million employees cost and (at 1:25:15) again abruptly asked about the print advertising budget and “thanked Cho and Barrows for bringing up the print advertising cut to cover Sky Knight.”

Pulido asked (at 1:29:00) what the impact of the print advertising cut would be on the CCPA ticket sales.

CCPA Executive Director Dianne Cheney  (at 1:32:42) said, “we used to get 60-70% of our ticket sales from the first two brochures, but that has changed substantially. People are buying tickets closer to the event date. We also get advanced coverage in newspapers with previews and interviews, that helps too”. Pulido thanked Ms. Cheney (at 1:39:25) and inexplicably said,  “….it sounds like the brochure is the main vehicle for ticket sales, all additional advertising is a bonus.”  This is minutes after Ms. Cheney told Pulido that brochure sales have dropped “significantly”.  Selective hearing on Pulido’s part.

Pulido went on to say “I would rather support the pleasure of my colleagues and restore Sky Knight…like to make the motion to reinstate the budget…if it comes specifically from print advertising I am favorable to that”.

Barrows again chimed in and for the second time (at 1:42:05) said, “ if we don’t do it (cut the print advertising budget) I won’t vote to reinstate Sky Knight. Pulido then (at 1:44:34) made a motion, “…to restore $220,000 to fund Sky Knight with $220,000 coming out of city advertising funds inclusive of the CCPA”. Barrows is heard correcting Mark to “make sure it was from city advertising”. Pulido went on, “I am open to cut advertising dollars to restore Sky Knight”.

Immediately after that Mayor Edwards (who never debated the topic but voted yes anyway) brought the motion to the floor. Barrows did not let Edwards get the word second out before he seconded it, and the council voted 5-0.

This is shameless political payback of the worst kind, trying to stamp out freedom of the press. The $220,000 is .0025% of the budget; yet the entire council singled out that part of the budget, debated it for 20 minutes (out of 90 minutes), and voted to specifically cut city print advertising.  Even if it hurt ticket sales of the CCPA. Barrows, the obvious ringleader, said three times that I will not pass the budget unless we cut the city print advertising budget, that is verbatim.

So loyal LCCN readers, here is a councilperson who committed battery on a resident, who called this paper a liar (when it was true), who then orchestrated a payback scheme to injure the paper financially, and proceeded to hold the budget hostage until the entire council voted to “cut print advertising” (in his own words). Councilman Cho commented at the meeting “why are we talking about such small items when we have bigger things to talk about.” Wonder indeed.

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  • Jill Browne-Liu says:

    I applaud you Mr. Hews for finally “calling out” the Cerritos City Council on their pettiness.

    When government attempts to cut off a FREE MEDIA we end up with CORRUPTION like BELL, and the Los Angeles County Assessor’s Office.

    This isn’t about a $220,000 savings to the City General Fund, this is about trying to control the message of a community newspaper that actually covers the real news here in our community once and for all.

    LCCN has never been more popular in our community.

    Keep up the great WORK!

    Jill Browne-Liu

    • Res Ipsa says:

      I would hope than I am not the only one who appreciates the irony of using the term “free media” in conjunction with a partially government subsidized publication.

      If a free media is the endgame, then papers which are totally supported by private funds should be the goal.

      • Brian Hews says:

        Welcome back Mr. Ipsa:

        I find it quite amusing that you have not revealed your identity. Your government subsidized comment is also amusing, and ignorant to say the least.

        So my newspaper has no economic impact on Cerritos?

        My newspaper has no effect on the lives of the people we write about in Cerritos?

        The stories about the city, the events we publish that help local non-profits earn money? Soroptimist, Gadabout, Su Casa, YMCA, Chamber, 1st CEB?

        The articles we publish that help high school seniors with their college resumes? Want to talk to their parents about how we helped? (Probably not since you hide behind emails.)

        The local softball team that won a championship and parents who come into our office for copies?

        The over 3,000 free copies we drop off in the city so people can read the paper (and if they don’t get it they get angry.)

        Why don’t you talk to those people and then come back and write another snide comment.

        I can see it now…no disrespect Mr. Hews but I am just talking about the Barrows incident….ignorance is bliss Mr. Ipsa

  • Mr. Cerritos says:

    It’s exactly as I previously stated “The problems within the City of Cerritos are bigger than any residents could imagine!” They are bigger than the city council. It is scary, to find more & more problems within the city, the deeper you look into things.

  • La Miradian says:

    Looks like time for a city council recall and overhaul. Personal vendettas don’t serve the public they are supposed to represent.

  • Res Ipsa says:

    This is a very serious charge to levied at someone, and could be potentially actionable if not sufficiently proven. I’m curious to know what evidence the paper has to show that there was an “orchestrated scheme to inflict financial damage” to this publication by the entire council.

    First and foremost, in making a serious accusation such as this, I would think that it would be important to be completely accurate. Case in point, the $220,000 referred to is actually .25% (1/4 of one percent) of the overall budget, not .0025% as printed in this article.

    Secondly, a more pertinent fact that I did not see printed above is that this publication is only one of many that are affected by this cut. Failing to mention this gives the impression that this publication was being solely singled out by the council. Thats simply not the case.

    Granted it is a small portion of the overall budget, but anyone who has any experience at all in trying to reduce a deficit knows that budgets are met by compiling the total of many small calculated cuts from a variety of areas.

    As I said above, to suggest that this is anything else without evidence of collusion or otherwise creates a degree of liability for this publication. It will be interesting to see if any is provided.

  • Mad says:

    Ah Mr Ipsa defender that is all Barrows… you always avoid the facts and your knowledge of journalism is IPSA-NIL

    Why don’t you tell everyone who you really are and dispense with hiding behind emails?

    I just watched the tape and everything Mr. Hews wrote is true, 119 million budget and they spent most of the time talking about .25% which is the same as .00025%, and specifically called out print advertising. Coincidence, I think not.

    You yourself said “granted it was small” amount, take the blinders off IPSA this is an afront to OUR NEWSPAPER and a slap in the face of freedom of the press…

  • Don't shoot the messenger says:

    Ironic, Pulido sat on the ABC school board when a certain school principal was demoted and evidence was fabricated.
    Wasn’t Pulido also involved in some other investigation for receiving money under questionable circumstance?
    It’s gotta make one wonder where Pulido’s heart is.
    And Chen, as I recall from another article said the Barrows incident was not her concern nor should it be the newspaper’s.
    Didn’t Chen also deny using city staff for her and Barrow’s recent China trip? Then thanked the city staff for helping her put together the presentation?
    How about Cho who it seems would rather speak up for equal treatment of sex offenders instead of keep them out of city parks.
    And spineless Edwards sitting back, ignoring it all and acting more like Mayor McCheese.
    Is this a case of Birds of a feather flocking together?

  • John Q. Public says:

    As I watch the video replay of the council meeting being referred to, I can’t help but wonder if Mr. Hews and the Los Cerritos Community News aren’t indeed being victimized.
    The budget for the CCPA is about $$3.5 Million in the RED. That’s Million, with a capital “M”.
    If ticket sales are down and the Center is in the RED, which is true according to the city — then WHY cut the advertising budget? Why?
    1. I challenge anyone specifically Barrows and Pulido to explain how cutting the print budget helps promote the financial health of the Performing Arts Center.

  • BOSS HOG: Fish Rots From the Head Down! says:

    I guess Bruce Barrows thinks the next logical step is to ASSAULT AND BATTER any resident with an opposing viewpoint and the PACK OF FOOLS on the Cerritos City Council just sits there because when you are all GUILTY you have each others back JUST LIKE BELL in fact Cerritos is nothing more than an ‘Upscale Bell’. This will continue until they all leave the city BANKRUPT and in a MESS, then they will all leave town to higher ground.

  • Disgusted " Former" Pulido Supporter says:

    Mark Pulido, I work for you on all your past elections (ABC Dist and City Council). No more!
    You can have law breaker Barrows get your dirty campaign votes in the future. Your COMMUNITY has been betrayed. Never again will you get my vote!

    • Recall says:

      Let’s not forget Mark Pulido also sat on the ABC School Board when the Stowers Elementary School Principle was demoted. As a result of legal action against the Districts a judge found the district FABRICATED evidence!
      Now the district will most likely have to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars if not millions!
      This voter sees Pulido as nothing more than self-serving opportunists.
      This city and this school district cannot afford Mark Pulido.
      It’s time for a RECALL…