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OP/ED: Cerritos College Caught Once Again Blackballing HMG-CN; College Public Affairs Director Miya Walker Should Resign

By Brian Hews

A public records request has once again caught top officials at Cerritos College, headed by newly hired Public Affairs Director Miya Walker, purposely and intentionally eliminating this newspaper from any public outreach or advertising campaign implemented by the College.

Imagine that, the largest circulated community newspaper in Southeast Los Angeles County, with circulation in every city touching the College and with four Los Angeles Press Club Awards somehow being left off the College’s media outreach list, while two other similar papers in the area were included.

A few weeks ago through a similar public records request, HMG-CN found that the College’s Head of Procurement was ordered to intentionally eliminate this newspaper from advertising, even though it had used HMG-CN one year earlier in the same campaign.

You can see the story here.

Emails clearly showed that top officials told procurement to eliminate HMG-CN.

Meanwhile, all other area newspaper were included in the campaign.

Then, about two weeks ago, HMG-CN received an email from Miya Walker that said, “We are actively pitching our Back to School story ideas to local media.”

When asked why HMG-CN was not “actively pitched”, Walker sent an email saying, “there was no invite, the other paper asked for the tour.”

HMG-CN then asked why she said “actively pitching “all local media. Ms. Walker did not respond.

Sensing another purposeful and intentional elimination by top officials at the College, I made another public records request asking who was on the media outreach list.

My senses were correct. Last week I received an email from the CFO, and the following newspapers were on the list: Long Beach Press-Telegram, Lakewood Community News, Los Angeles Wave Newspapers, Hot Sheet, Downey Patriot, Talon Marks, The Campus Herald, City News Service, Inc., Norwalk Now and the Cerritos/Artesia Patch.

HMG-CN was left off the media outreach list.

I must point out here the complete incompetence of Ms. Walker and her knowledge of local media. The Lakewood paper is a monthly Chamber of Commerce paper; the Hot Sheet is a shopper, no editorial; Norwalk Now is the Norwalk’s city newsletter that publishes every quarter, the Patch is almost out of business.

Included on that list were the Wave Newspapers and the Downey Patriot, publications that are very similar to HMG-CN.

So I sent an email back to Ms. Walker, noting the list and telling her that once again we caught her purposely and intentionally leaving HMG-CN out of the loop.

Walker responded with the following: “Let’s stick to the facts. For 2014 alone, Los Cerritos Community News featured approximately 19 stories about Cerritos College. Given the sensational nature and often factually inaccurate content of these articles, it is clear that Los Cerritos has no intention of writing fair and balanced stories about the College despite having received press releases directly from Public Affairs about campus accomplishments and activities.”

Translation: we are going to cut you out of the College loop.

None of the articles Ms. Walker mentioned had anything to do with press releases sent from the College.

They were stories on Bob Chester’s sexually explicit emails. The College wanted to charge HMG-CN $250,000 to retrieve those emails, so we never got them. Chester resigned as a result of the story.

Another story was about Dr. Lacy’s $300,000 salary; another on the Accreditation fiasco. All were factually correct.

The stories can be found here. 

I asked Ms. Walker what stories she was referring to as inaccurate, and as of the publication date of this story, she had not answered.

It is patently obvious from Ms. Walker’s statement that HMG-CN has been blackballed by the College, in the same manner those in power on the Cerritos and Artesia City Councils have done.

They don’t advocate freedom of the press when the press writes hard-hitting investigative stories on their organizations; they blackball the press.

What has happened at the College is a blatant mis-use of public funds and HMG-CN will file a complaint with the Los Angeles District Attorney to investigate the College.

And since she was caught in another blatant lie, HMG-CN calls on Ms. Walker to resign from her position at the College.
This is not a decision HMG-CN takes lightly, but one that must be made; the department has morphed into the Russian News Service TASS since she came aboard.

Imagine if the Talon Marks, the College’s newspaper, wrote an article that Ms. Walker did not like, or felt was “inaccurate.” What would she do then, advocate to cut the newspaper’s budget?

There is something significantly wrong with all of Ms. Walker’s actions, one significant right would be to force her to resign.

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