Monday, October 25, 2010

When Is News not News? When It's Business as Usual

In our last post, we told you about some shady dealings on the part of Governing Board incumbents. Now there's more.

We've just learned that the Southwestern College district itself sent out a mailer promoting the Board and downplaying accreditation problems.

How did they do this? By packaging the propaganda as "news."

This 8 1/2 X 11 inch mailer on glossy card stock pretends to be "News from Southwestern College," but its timing--right before the election--couldn't be more transparent. (Besides, honestly, if you wanted to send apolitical information to the community, would you choose to do so at the very moment people's mailboxes are overflowing with campaign literature? We think not.)

While not mentioning candidates by name, the mailer refers glowingly to the current Governing Board no fewer than eight times, once in bold red font.

Twice (once on each side), the mailer claims that accreditation problems date from 1996 and 2003 ("Southwestern College is currently resolving issues from previous WASC reports in 1996 and 2003")--a story the incumbents have been promoting throughout their campaigns, especially as a way to discredit former Superintendent/President Norma Hernandez, who is running against Yolanda Salcido for Seat #4.

The truth, of course, is that this Board and Superintendent/President Raj Chopra are responsible for the college's probationary accreditation status, as we've been documenting on this blog for over a year.

So what does it cost to manufacture this kind of spin? According to the label, these mailers went out ECRWSS (Enhanced Carrier Route Walking Sequence Saturation), which in US Postal Service lingo means the mailing had to go to every address on the route.

Assuming the district sent only to addresses in Chula Vista, National City, Imperial Beach, Bonita, and Coronado (skipping outlying areas like San Ysidro and Otay Mesa), that amounts to at least 100,000 households (and we're not even counting the business addresses on those routes). At the non-profit ECRWSS mailing rate of 11 cents per, the mailing cost alone comes to $11,000. And we haven't even included the cost of the mailer itself yet!

Even if we assume an incredibly modest 10 cents for each mailer, that brings the grand total to over $20,000.

And guess who paid for it, folks. Yep, that would be you, the taxpayer.

In case you didn't receive a copy in the mail, you can see the scanned mailer here:
Side 1
Side 2


  1. They say karma is a bitch, and it better be a big ole bitch for Chopra and the crooked incumbents. Not to revel in too many cliches, but what goes around does come around.

  2. I knew there was something fishy about that mailer the moment I pulled it out of my mailbox. Thanks for unearthing the truth about this! God, the more we dig through this stuff, huh??

  3. If anyone believes the intent of that mailing is to support incumbents in the upcoming election, they should file a complaint with the Fair Political Practices Commission -- FPPC. Election rules clearly prohibit the expenditure of public funds in support of partisan cause. Public resources (including staff time) may be used 'to inform' but not 'to advocate'. It is a fine line.

  4. Isn't this the exact same kind of thing that got Zasueta fired and almost sent to prison?

    Are any attourneys reading this?

  5. Last spring the VP of Human Resources sent out a memo reminding us that political campaigning using District resources is not permitted. I am still waiting to hear how Nick Alioto found personal email addresses of faculty so he could send his attack-Norma emails. How could he NOT have done this using District resources? How could he assemble this information which some of the recipients guard closely? I know have known some of the recipients of the emails for many years, and I don't have their email addresses! So if he hacked into personnel records or had one of his bullied lackeys do it, why hasn't he been taken to task?