Remember In November: Let’s Reject Divisive Political Games

Whatever happened to the “Neighborhood News?”

Four years ago, someone mailed a large eight-page brochure to Lakewood voters right before a local election. Nearly all of its content consisted of political attacks and advertising, but it was formatted like the Lakewood Observer and titled “Lakewood Neighborhood News.”

It was also sent out anonymously, and to this day the people who produced the mailing still won’t admit it.

Local reporters asked questions, for a week or so, but no one would give a straight answer. A quickie “Neighborhood News” website connected the mailing with money from Ed Fitzgerald, a former Lakewood mayor, county executive, and failed candidate for governor.

But Fitzgerald claimed he was only “an investor” in a project to start local newspapers, and that the product was definitely not just disguised campaign mail.

Four years after the “newspaper’s” single issue, that claim is exposed as a plain lie. Someone produced a campaign brochure, tried to disguise it as a newspaper, and mailed it to Lakewood voters. Then everyone involved hid from responsibility.

Mayor Mike Summers had a large advertisement in the brochure, as did the Lakewood Hospital Association, and the “Voters Engaged to Oppose Issue 64” political action committee. Text pieces smeared the candidates opposing Summers and John Litten—but no one signed them or has ever admitted writing them. Only board of education member Tom Einhouse has ever admitted creating part of the “Neighborhood News,” a filler article about school construction which was printed under his name.

But how did it get there? Who planned and created this mailing, and why have they refused to provide any transparency about it? Lakewood deserves better than dark-money games, so how do we get it?

We could start with an ethics commission and some campaign finance rules, maybe, if City Council President Sam O’Leary weren’t blocking them. Or, the people behind anonymous “newspapers” and “surveys” could simply come clean, and level with voters instead. But after four years that doesn’t seem likely.

If Lakewood wants to get past divisive stunts and dark-money politics, it’s going to be up to us.

Dirty politicians always count on people forgetting. But we can’t forget this mudslinging ambush, yet, or we’ll just get more of it. Remember the “Neighborhood News,” look at it again. Remember who was involved and how they lied about it. Look at which candidates they’re tied in with this year, and just say no to them.

Remember in November.

Kevin D. Young

Kevin D. Young has been a resident since 1986 and is a Progressive Democrat.

Kevin Young

Resident since 1986 Progressive Democrat

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Volume 15, Issue 18, Posted 3:47 PM, 09.18.2019