Another Voice of OC Story About…Nothing

In January, I wrote of my disappointment with Voice of OC reporting on Anaheim. I had high hopes for the Voice when is started. However, I have reluctantly concluded reporter Adam Elmahrek has a definite agenda that colors his decisions about what stories to cover and how those stories are slanted. Some players in Anaheim politics are subjected to intense and often unfair scrutiny, the actions of others are ignored, and context is often lacking.

Last month, he wrote a story about an e-mail he hadn’t seen, and impugned the integrity of two prominent public servants with sterling reputations. Elmahrek all but accused them of defrauding the federal government, but has yet to provide any evidence other than one basically innocuous e-mail. His allegations float out there on the Internet, uncorrected.

Elmahrek’s latest article is another story about nothing. He reports on a contract Jordan Brandman had to perform a facility needs assessment for the Orange County Clerk-Recorder’s office, after he had left that office but prior to being elected to the Anaheim City Council.

I’ve noticed a pattern to Elmahrek’s reporting: he includes a lot of extraneous and irrelevant information about the subject of his story, which has the cumulative effect of making him or her seem sinister or not-above-board. The story on Jordan is true to that pattern, and after clearing away all that editorial underbrush, here is what Elmahrek has: he isn’t sure as to the status of the needs assessment, or whether Jordan was even paid.

So, he turns this absence of information into a story: “Brandman’s County Consulting Contract Raises Questions.” Who is raising these questions? No one except Elmahrek, so the headline is Elmahrek reporting on himself.

Among the questions “being raised” is “whether the councilman failed to fully complete the tasks of his taxpayer-funded contract while he was campaigning for office.” What relevance does Jordan’s candidacy have? Elmahrek doesn’t say. Would no questions be raised if Jordan had been re-modeling his house instead of running for office?

Elmahrek tells us “The campaigns of Brandman and [former Orange County Clerk-recorder Tom] Daly, who in the last election won the 69th Assembly seat, were both heavily supported by business lobbyists and the Disneyland Resort.” Is this relevant to all those questions “being raised” Jordan’s contract? No, but it does make Jordan seem like a water-carrier for corporate interests, and I think that is deliberate.

Elmahrek tells us: “District Attorney Tony Rackackaus also has questions about Brandman’s work and whether the councilman has been abusing public resources. Rackauckas’ office has been reviewing a complaint that while an Anaheim Union High School District trustee, Brandman used a small district office for personal use, a possible violation of state law that is punishable by a $1,000 fine.”

What Elmahrek doesn’t tell readers is the original complaint was filed by a political enemy of Jordan, Anaheim Union High School District trustee Katherine Smith. He doesn’t tell readers that Smith herself said she had no idea why Jordan had made use of that office or for what. He doesn’t tell readers that Smith suspiciously filed the complaint shortly before the election, and it was used in several mailers attacking Jordan.

Elmahrek tells us: “Doling out taxpayer-funded positions to political allies isn’t uncommon inside the halls of the county administration.

For example, emails released last year by the Orange County Employees Association showed that there’s a quiet tradition at the county by which numerous political aides to members of the Board of Supervisors are fast tracked for positions in the county bureaucracy.”

Again, Elmahrek fails to show any relevance between Jordan’s contract and aides to county supervisors going to work for county agencies, but it does make Jordan’s work seem shady by association. Again, I think that is deliberate.

Another Voice of OC story staining a person’s reputation wiithout any evidence of wrongdoing.

Maybe I am showing my age, but I am accustomed to reporters’ reporting relevant facts and writing stories about what they knew to be true, and waiting until they had those facts before writing their stories. What we’re getting more and more of from the Voice of OC is stories about what isn’t known, with the blanks filled in with speculation and insinuations. The Voice of OC ought to do better than that, and should.

17 comments

  1. “Another Voice of OC Story About…Nothing”

    Sounds like a lost Seinfeld episode.

  2. This all flows from the relentless OCEA campaign against the Anaheim City Council. OCEA funds nearly 100 percent of the Voice of OC. Adam Elmahrek is just following orders. It is unfortunate that PBS attaches itself to a blog that is designed solely to attack elected officials in cities across OC that do not march lock step with OCEA. PBS should hold itself to a higher standard.

    • You refer to this Adam guy as a “reporter”…he is a blogger!!

      Come on Matt. The Voice of OC is not a news outlet and yo know it. They are just out there attempting to make a few political points for union candidates.

      But what is awesome is their track record. None of their candidates ever win. They spent over a half million dollars on John Leos, and he lost his race twice.

      Their model has failed. I love it! I hope they continue to “invest” more money on their blog “reporters.”

      Even they admit they are solely funded by public employee unions. I admit it’s fun to get all whipped up about their blog posts, but in the end there is nothing there.

      • Matthew Cunningham

        Since this is Anaheimocrat’s post, I’ll leave it to him to reply.

      • ReasonableGuy2: I’m inclined to agree with you, which is too bad. But Elmahrek’s writing, his style, his methods and standards are more like a blogger’s than that of traditional reporter.

    • “Nearly 100 percent,” Anaheim First?

      Actually the Voice doesn’t even get the majority of its funding from OCEA any more.

  3. Looks like the Voice of OC has in fact come up more “extraneous and irrelevant information” today. http://tinyurl.com/ay88azg. Brandman’s produced 20 page of garbage that a college senior could’ve done over a period of nine months.

    • Yep. Count Supervisors Moorlach and Spitzer as part of the sinister conspiracy against poor Jordan. They’re furious and they look like they’re gonna take it out on Clerk-Recorder hopeful Renee Ramirez, who also took the liberty of erasing Jordan’s hard drive when he left employment there. Moorlach estimates this half-@#$d report could have been done in 5 hours; it’s already seven months late and has cost us taxpayers 24,000 so far. That’s… nearly $5,000 an hour?

      Sounds like Adam WAS on to something. And most of the details of his first story that Matthew dings as “irrelevant” I could easily argue for their relevance, but who’s got the time.

      $24,000 of government money for doing nothing of value. Actually I can see how Matthew WOULD be inclined to defend that.

      • SOP for government work – no one is excited about this – except crazed liberal dems.

        • I can’t make heads or tails of this comment of yours, Mike.

          First of all, are you saying this is the way things should be run at the County and everyone should be happy about it and not want to change it?

          Secondly, are you calling Moorlach and Spitzer “crazed liberal dems?”

          Did you even read the new article? Read it. http://www.voiceofoc.org/county/article_737763ae-8c79-11e2-8d1f-0019bb2963f4.html

          Or am I just misunderstanding you?

          • I am saying that government and it’s bureaucracies have built-in mechanisms of inefficiency and non-accountability. People from both sides of the aisle take advantage of this – including Moorlach & Spitzer.

            • Oh, okay. I could have sworn you said only “crazed liberal dems” were upset about this. Silly me, I must have imagined that. I better up my meds.

              • uncle …. on that specific point – the word “only.” There are some mostly right thinking Repubs taking advantage. But I still say that this will be forgotten in a week.

        • And you do remember, don’t you, that Brandman and Daly are Democrats? Democrats who like to call themselves “progressive” or “liberal” – although I don’t really know how they are, except for inasmuch as they’d like to take your guns away and let women kill their babies.

      • (Sorry, not Matthew of course but his buddy “Anaheimocrat.” A woefully malponious handle by the way. I suppose it’s supposed to signify “Anaheim Democrat” which would sound a lot better; but it sounds like it means “government of and by Anaheim.”)

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