It insults the intelligence of voters. Everyone knows a school superintendent endorsement in a school board election would backfire and hurt more than help a candidate! That may be why Peggy Wolff’s campaign claimed an ad by Howard Hills agreeing with policies of the new superintendent somehow was intended to imply an endorsement of Hills by the superintendent.
The inescapable logic here is that voters are not smart enough to understand a candidate’s agreement with the superintendent’s public policy statements does not mean the superintendent endorses the candidate.
After discussing the issue with Dr. Viloria, candidate Hills continued to support the superintendent’s decision to issue a statement confirming his duty to remain neutral.
Hills noted, however, the superintendent had little choice after Indy reporter Marilynn Young informed him of the phantom endorsement conspiracy theory would be pursued as an Indy news story.
Other than claims of an opposition campaign, the Indy had zero objective evidence those claims were true. Indeed, Hills informed reporter Marilynn Young the Indy’s own advertising department produced the ad layout and acquired Viloria’s photo from the school district website.
Howard urged reporter Marilynn Young to interview Indy staff about whether there was any discussion or evidence of intent to imply an endorsement. The Indy declined to look for evidence and truth in its own house.
Even though Viloria carefully explained rumors of endorsement were unfounded, the Indy misinformed readers the superintendent “disavowed” the content of Hills’ ad. To the contrary, the superintendent did not dispute being the source of statements accurately attributed to him, or otherwise address ad content.
The ad was developed after Hills told Indy ad staff he was tired of pretty pictures and slogans, and wanted an idea driven ad. Howard’s goal was to give people hope we can build community around enhanced school board governance as we have for sports, academics, PTA and Schoolpower.
Indeed, since Wolff recently has been borrowing Howard’s call for “positive change,” she should have welcomed his ad instead of attacking it.
David Flores, Laguna Beach
The author is a supporter of Howard Hills, a candidate for school board.
Publisher’s response: Like most news organizations, the Laguna Beach Independent separates its editorial and advertising operations. Some paying advertisers, among them Mr. Hills, take advantage of design services that the paper provides at no extra charge without censoring, endorsing or altering the desired content unless it is clearly false or defamatory. The editorial department responds to news events and trends, including the comments and complaints about Mr. Hills’s advertisement that were made to the Indy and to the superintendent of schools. (A section of this letter has been omitted because fairness requires a response by its target.)