A letter from the publisher: No plans to ‘step back’


Some of you are old enough to remember when The Signal newspaper was owned by a local couple, Scott and Ruth Newhall. They were by all accounts journalists who took no prisoners in their effort to protect this valley from the power-hungry self-serving who were selected, elected or appointed without an appreciation of their roles in a genuine democracy, that role being “service.”

Service not to their party, nor service for their own self-aggrandizement, but service to the people they represent in matters they were chosen to affect.

On April 22, this newspaper ran an “Our View” editorial titled “Dynasty stifles engagement in SCV.” It detailed the meddling by state Sen. Scott Wilk in local non-partisan offices.

This newspaper, and I as one of its owners, have been clear both in our pages and in conversations with state and federal elected officials that they should restrain themselves from facilitating, campaigning or endorsing in nonpartisan elections.

Stacking our school boards, council seats and water boards with individuals indebted to politicians of either party will not help our kids, our families or our communities. There are good reasons some races are nonpartisan.

Assemblyman Dante Acosta heeded those words in the latest Santa Clarita City Council member appointment process and refused to endorse anyone, including Councilman Bill Miranda and, according to Miranda, several others in this valley as well – all while Sen. Wilk, in his quest to shape the SCV, was doubling down.

Not only did Sen. Wilk write a letter of endorsement for Bill Miranda’s appointment, he also admitted to calling each of the council members whose votes he needed to ensure Miranda’s appointment.

In the same conversation, when confronted with the possibility those phone calls constituted a Brown Act violation, he changed his assertion from talking to the three council members personally to only leaving them voice messages urging their support.

He now claims he only wrote a letter. Regardless, his claim on Friday’s KHTS broadcast rebuttal was that I purportedly said, “I know your fingerprints are all over this appointment” and his defense was “prove it.”  He now has done so publicly as he did then privately.

Sen. Wilk went on to suggest some status other than “full” when one owns a business here in the SCV and doesn’t sleep here each night as a resident. Lovely commentary that I am sure the Economic Development Corporation can use to attract the future Logix or Sunkist to our valley.

So consider this, senator: we at Paladin Multimedia have made a multimillion-dollar commitment to the Santa Clarita Valley with an investment in several publications. I believe those purchases well exceeded your residential or other financial investments in the SCV.

I travel 45 minutes each day, not just Monday through Friday but many Saturdays and Sundays as well, to come to work in the Santa Clarita Valley. When I arrive at work, along with many of our SCV readers,  I spend upward of 10 or 12 hours a day doing my job and working in the community to help the SCV continue to reach its promise. For our readers who are forced to leave this valley to secure employment, I think them no less a citizen of the SCV, and whereever they make that contribution they should not be called out as somehow a lesser citizen for it.

I have bought my cars here, I have my dry cleaning done here, and all my retail purchases are made here, including fuel, food and entertainment costs.

Of the 12 vendors used during a recent wedding, 10 were based here in Santa Clarita, one in Acton, and only one was from Ventura County.

But forget about me personally. My two other partners have made similar commitments, and the former publisher and current owner has lived in the SCV for more than 32 years.  We employee 40-plus full-time associates, of which 90 percent are SCV residents. The company this non-resident owns spends 80 percent to 90 percent of its $3-million-plus expense budget in this community at local business for products and services.

Do you, Mr. Wilk, really believe that because I don’t reside in the Santa Clarita Valley, I am not entitled to an equal opinion? And because you have lived in the valley since 1990, somehow you possess the book of Santa Clarita Valley truths and I must be conditioned to understand the SCV in the same way you do?

To you, the readers of this newspaper: Would you rather have your paper run by someone who lives here and can’t tell a charlatan when he sees one – and is somehow afraid to call one out if he does?

Or would you prefer the paper be owned by newspapermen like the former owners – who weren’t cowed by a politician who one minute claimed loyalty to his valley and in a heartbeat switched from the designation R-Santa Clarita to that of R-Antelope Valley for no discernible reason than sheer vote count?

Our competitor KHTS, who hosted an hour-long broadcast last Friday for Wilk and Miranda to vent about our editorial, wrote at least a $500 check to Wilk’s campaign for Senate last year. Yet Carl Goldman claims journalistic high ground in scolding The Signal to “step back” and “take a breath, give yourselves time to understand how we do things out here.

The very first rule of legitimate journalism is you don’t finance campaigns of the subjects you cover – and if you ever create a conflict of interest, intended or otherwise, you make that conflict public.

Goldman is the same man who bought the URL “scvsignal.com” (ours is “signalscv.com,”) had it linked to a landing page with our name on it, and then, with another click, directed our readers to his radio station’s website. I ” It took threats of litigation and a “shakedown” payment to Goldman to reclaim what was our rightful intellectual property. High ethics, indeed.

My answer to Mr. Miranda Mr. Wilk and Mr. Goldman is as simple as would have been Scott and Ruth Newhall’s: We have no intentions of stepping back or taking a breath. And as for going along to get along, that’s a road for the corrupt and the weak. No thanks!

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