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Pastors on Point respond to anonymous attack on Roberts

October 5, 2010 - 4:55 pm

On Friday, we published images of a series of anonymous, spiteful, seemingly racist and possibly illegal campaign materials opposing the current San Diego County Board of Supervisors, two of which, Bill Horn and Ron Roberts,  are up for reelection in November.  Among the materials there was a flyer featuring “Blasper the Angry Ghost” with a mixed message about Roberts and racism.

What really made the flyer dirty was that it was attributed to Pastors on Point, a non-profit group that organizes community services and events like the recent Praise Fest gospel festival.

Today Pastors on Point held a press conference denouncing the materials and calling for an investigation. For some reason, we didn’t get the invite and didn’t know about it until Channel 10 called and asked for a comment from us (they should have video tonight).

So, I called Pastor Ray Smith, president of Pastors on Point, on his cell. Here’s what he said:

We were taken by surprise. We think that particular flyer that came out was degrading. It should be nowhere in our community, in our city, in our society…. We just believe the person who put the flyer together ought to have enough nerve to come out and say they did. What they did is they put ‘Pastors on Point’ on the bottom of the flyer and we don’t think that’s fair because it wasn’t us that did the flyer. We think that it’s just wrong.

Some voiceofsandiego.org staffers jumped on us for publishing the images, claiming via Twitter that we were helping the cowardly smearsters spread their message. We asked Smith whether he was upset that we published the documents:

We were glad in the sense of being able to get our hands on it because if it went out all across the city, it would be difficult to retract. At least now we got it out in the open and people can hear it from the press release, people can see the flyer and it’s something that we as a city have to get past. This covert and overt racism is not good for our community.

Pastors on Point has called for an investigation into the materials. That’s one of the reasons we put it out there: Evidence.

Writers note: I’ve made minor modifications to this story for the sake of clarity.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. October 5, 2010 - 5:25 pm 5:25 pm

    I didn’t join in the twitter conversation before, but I still have so many questions about these materials, all of them along the lines of, What else do you know about them? Do they look homemade (or like something done with a basic office setup) or were they printed at a print shop? Have you been able to find the print shop? Do they look like the familiar work of any other pols from any other election? Do you have Are there watermarks? Have you found anyone else who has received them? How did they arrive in your in-basket? In an envelope? Stamped? Addressed? What time did they arrive? Why did CityBeat receive them? Why did you photograph them instead of scan them? Was there more than on copy of any of them? Are there any brand labels on the back of the pins? Do the photographs look familiar? Did they come from the politician’s websites or somewhere else?

    • October 5, 2010 - 6:20 pm 6:20 pm

      Q: What else do you know about them?
      A: Not a lot.

      Q: Do they look homemade (or like something done with a basic office setup) or were they printed at a print shop?
      A: They look like they were printed at a Kinkos or on a nice office lazer printer. The buttons could have been done professionally or, more likely, by someone with a lot of hobby experience making buttons at home. What’s more important to note is the design: They were semi-professionally designed. By that, I mean that they look as well designed as a lot of professional campaign mailers I get. Whoever designed them has experience and/or instruction in design on a basic level. They also clearly spent a lot of time on it.

      Q: Have you been able to find the print shop?
      A: This is a silly question. Even if we were 100% sure they were professionally printed, you’d have to call every print house in the country. Local politicians do not stay local. I’ve seen candidates in the southwest contract in Florida for their mailers. They’re even less likely to use a local commercial printer if they’re printing something illegal. I’d imagine that most professional printers that print these sort of things are aware of campaign laws and probably wouldn’t risk being complicite in breaking the law.
      That I said, I think it was probably a Kinkos or an office printer.

      Q: Do they look like the familiar work of any other pols from any other election?
      A: I have seem similar things around the country. If you asked Bill Horn or Ron Roberts, I’m sure they could give you a list of the usual suspects among the county activists. I won’t speculate. I can say that previous County Supervisor races have had problems with illegal campaign practices.

      Q: Are there watermarks?
      A: Not that I saw. I did not taste them with my tongue either.

      Q: Have you found anyone else who has received them?
      A: Ranter’s Roost, a popular county activist subscriber list, has put the word out on my behalf that anyone who receives it should get in touch. It’s early days yet. I believe I am more likely to find out if anyone receives them in the crazy days ahead if people/sources/readers know what to look for. At the same time, perhaps whoever made them has now seen the error of their ways and will not distribute them.

      Q: How did they arrive in your in-basket? In an envelope? Stamped? Addressed?
      A: A man walked in at around 8 a.m. on Friday (perhaps earlier) and dropped them on a table. Kevin Hellman, our publisher was in the office and, it being first thing in the morning, he wasn’t paying close attention. He doesn’t get very involved in editorial matters. Kevin tried to ask the guy if he needed anything, but the guy just walked out. There was no envelope. Kevin then put the loose sheets and buttons in Dave Rolland’s wire basket. Kevin did not get a good look at the guy. (This question has been edited to name the member of staff who saw the guy)

      Q: Why did CityBeat receive them?
      A: How should I know? I have my theories. Because of the Pastors on Point reference, I believe the person is a reader who saw our coverage on Ron Roberts’ grant to PoP’s Praise Fest. Other than that, I think the person probably thought we would love it, considering our “Flush Bill” cover story and Life Perspectives stories. I did appreciate the “Guakin’ Bill” button. The rest, not so much. I did think other news outlets’ may have received the materials, but I am not in the habit of tipping my hand to other news outlets.

      Q: Why did you photograph them instead of scan them?
      A: Because I don’t have a scanner. I have a phone that takes decent pictures of documents.

      Q: Was there more than on copy of any of them?
      A: What? I assume you mean “one” copy. Yes, there was only one copy of each.

      Q: Are there any brand labels on the back of the pins?
      A: I didn’t look and I’m not at the office now. This is really stretching.

      Q: Do the photographs look familiar?Did they come from the politician’s websites or somewhere else?
      A: The Ekard one is from the county site. Other than that, I don’t know. Maybe I can call my buddy at the CSI lab. Then we can figure out what lens on the camera was used and track that to a pawn shop in Boise. Based on the variety, I’d guess they came from Google Images.

  2. October 5, 2010 - 6:50 pm 6:50 pm

    Thanks for the answers, Dave. They’re the kind of details that would have decreased the skepticism in response to the first story.

    If they had appeared as if they were done in volume on some sort of press, then looking for the print shop would be the first obvious step at figuring out who did them. I’m surprised to see you scoff at that. I remember a similar happening in Brooklyn, NY, where they did indeed find the print shop just across town. I’ve met plenty of pressmen who could look at printed collateral and tell you all sorts of things about the print setup that created it, and then could tell you with local outfits might have done the job.

    The question about watermarks was just in case they’d been silly enough to use the second-sheet ream of someone’s custom stationery. A stretch, yes.

    The pin question was to get to the bottom of whether they had reused materials from some other source or campaign. Have you taken them apart to see what’s underneath?

    • October 5, 2010 - 7:02 pm 7:02 pm

      They’re the kind of unnecessary details that would’ve bored the reader. They have no relevance. What was important is that they exist. If you’re Pastors on Point, you want to know if someone’s dropping something off at a newspaper with your name on it.

      Perhaps, if they had been professionally produced, then it could’ve made sense to check. My question for Brooklyn is: Did the news reported on the illegal mailers first then follow with the origin?

      I am not taking my pins apart.

    • October 5, 2010 - 9:51 pm 9:51 pm

      Also, as far as decreasing skepticism goes….I have yet to hear from anyone not attached to Voice of San Diego.

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