City Manager Writes Open Letter to 'Courier' Calling for Retraction

Jeff Kolin requests that the newspaper write a retraction for wrongly accusing city staff of falsifying documents. The "Beverly Hills Courier" has yet to comply.

Mr. Clif Smith
The Beverly Hills Courier
8840 West Olympic Blvd.
Beverly Hills, CA 90211

Dear Mr. Smith,

On behalf of the City of Beverly Hills, I strongly dispute the Courier's July 13, 2012 article entitled "City Staff Falsifies Water Rate Increase Documents." The Courier's reflexive caricaturing of City staff and irresponsible allegations raised by the Courier's reporting must be challenged.

The topic of the article—proposed —is a serious and significant one, meriting extensive analysis and thorough public review. The Courier's article details efforts by City staff to provide outreach to a key stakeholder on this issue, namely homeowners.

While homeowner association reactions to the proposed water rate increase differed, these were healthy discussions that have and will continue to guide the City Council in drafting sound public policy. The City staff-produced report was accurate in characterizing this situation.

While the Courier has every right to explore the judgment and performance of City staff, the Courier acts irresponsibly when it features an inflammatory headline which alleges that Beverly Hills suffers from illegal or irresponsible government actions perpetrated by dishonest staff.

Let me be clear: no City employee falsified documents.

City staff is proud to serve the Beverly Hills community. We are committed to high standards of excellence, and every City employee I know works very hard to serve our residents and businesses with integrity and professionalism.

The Courier does our community a huge disservice perpetuating inflammatory stories of this nature. Please retract your headline in the July 13 issue.

Jeff Kolin
Beverly Hills City Manager

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cutop July 24, 2012 at 06:37 PM
I would be utterly shocked if Clif Smith printed a sincere retraction which didn't involve praising himself. More likely he will reaffirm his false allegations. The Courier suffers from little to no journalistic integrity. I encourage others to do what I do: stop reading it... Leave the freely distributed tabloid rag to rot in your driveway, on display for all of its advertisers to see where their money goes.
Simon July 25, 2012 at 06:29 AM
@cutop. I absolutely agree. Too bad Mr. Smith has no shame.
Mark Elliot July 25, 2012 at 06:00 PM
I wish our city did a better job of communicating with the community. That would reduce the space available for the Courier or any other publication to set the public agenda with attention-getting headlines of questionable veracity. In particular, the no-byline stories are a problem if the paper is also claiming to be a legitimate source for news in our community. City Hall could start by communicating more directly. The City Manager uses a column here to occasionally rebut criticism, but proactive outreach - telling us where the city is going from his perspective and, more importantly, asking where it should go - is lacking. My particular beef concerns City Hall's communication with the public at the department level. I advocate for bike-friendly streets at betterbike.org, and much of my time is spent ensuring I don't miss a meeting that may not have been noticed online in advance, or chasing down broken links, or simply goading Public Works into becoming a more public-facing organization. The department paves roads and manages parking and the like, but it's in the people business. That's governing. Transparency from City Hall militates against a newspaper with a bias, but the reluctance of a department like Public Works to keep a complete archive of meetings, to make its business available to the public, and to better relate to residents how it works for us, for example, only opens the door to scurrilous charges.
cutop July 26, 2012 at 05:20 PM
Rudy Cole had a poignant commentary on Clif Smith and this matter today in the Weekly: "While I even admire, quite seriously, the willingness of the publisher of that other newspaper to express his generally right-wing opinions in our mostly liberal commu- nity—not sure how long this column would survive in San Marino—I would urge some temperance in attacks on city staff. We have for many years created a very special bond between city staff, residents and business. The people who work at city hall really care about Beverly Hills and we appreciate, not only their professionalism, but their integrity and sense of belonging. Those qualities help distinguish us as a city. Nothing is perfect, and quality city services are a continuing work in progress. But headlines about falsifying of records when the problem is semantic and not any criminal behavior, is simply not helpful. Or take the claim that we are overstaffed. Our friends used a strange statistic to make that charge: 'We have one employee for every 34 residents.' True, but as even the most casual reader clearly understands, our city serves nearly 250,000 people who come here to work, dine or shop every day, and not just our 34,000 residents. Come on, let’s not play games with numbers to make a point of belittling our city workers. Civility begins at home, and in our daily lives, including those who own a bucket of ink. We need to come closer together, not further apart."
cutop July 27, 2012 at 09:51 PM
So, did Clif Smith print a retraction or did he do as I predicted and reaffirm his false allegation?
Marie Cunningham (Editor) July 28, 2012 at 03:42 AM
@cutop Letter from the publisher reaffirming the Courier's position.
cutop July 28, 2012 at 07:43 AM
lol... For a quarter I will predict your future too. ;-)
Marie Cunningham (Editor) July 29, 2012 at 07:09 AM
@cutop You seem to be accurate...a quarter would be quite the bargain!
Toby Styles July 30, 2012 at 11:05 AM
I agree with cutop and the others. Cliff Smith has made an utter joke out of the one paper we have relied on for years. If you think this is a real newspaper, the reminder will happen in the classified section. It is yellow, red, green. Looks like a 2 year old had their fun coloring the paper. Also Cliff is very biased against anyone that doesn't take him into their circles. Oh wait you need to be a republican too. He is making a joke out of the town. Why does the city fund advertising in their paper. When will he stop biting the hand that feeds him? It's a joke of a newspaper.


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