The Voice of OC reported a story on a confidential report commissioned by the Anaheim Union High School District on Friday that seems to go overboard on accusations that Brandman used a district office to do campaign work; a closer read of the report shows that the VOC buried the lede and the real target of the December 2014 report was Superintendent Elizabeth Novack and her alleged mistreatment of employees at the District’s office.
The VOC story doesn’t mention this in the lede paragraph and offers no photos of Novack while using a picture of Brandman to lead the piece off. Reporter Adam Elmarek also fails to disclose the author of the report, Daniel Shinoff, of the Los Angeles Law Firm Stutz Artiano Shinoff and Holtz, had been suspended from further legal work for the San Diego School Districts in March according to a report by the San Diego Union Tribune and would be the subject of a malpractice lawsuit by the San Ysidro School District .
From the Union Tribune story:
A law firm that does legal work for school districts across San Diego County has been suspended from new assignments by the agency at the Office of Education that taps attorneys for certain liability cases.
In suspending the Stutz Artiano Shinoff and Holtz firm, the office cited a decision by the San Ysidro School District last week to sue the firm for malpractice and file a complaint with the California State Bar.
“Given the seriousness of the allegations against Mr. Shinoff… staff felt it best to suspend assignment of new lawsuits to the Stutz firm until the malpractice suit and bar complaint are resolved,” said Music Watson, spokeswoman for the Office of Education.
The San Ysidro school board accused law firm partner Dan Shinoff of failing to bring the board a settlement offer in a case that eventually resulted in a $12 million judgment in a breach-of-contract complaint by a solar panel company.
To read the actual report posted by VOC versus the actual story has led sources to speculate VOC is unduly attacking Brandman because former State Senator Joe Dunn, an early financial backer for the Voice of OC, is rumored to be making a run for Congress. I’m not buying that because of the high ethical standards of VOC publisher Norberto Santana, but that hasn’t stopped the gossip machine that Voice broke the story of a December 2014 report now to go after Brandman. Elmarek’s story offers no explanation as to how they acquired the report or when.
But the report on Brandman’s activities are not solid proof anything improper was done. Brandman was a member of the AUHSD at the time and had every legal right to use the office. In addition, of the items he asked staff to print out, there is absolutely no specifics about what documents they were. Unless those documents were related to rules about running for city council, any documents pertaining to anything in the city of Anaheim would be completely in context with Brandman’s work for the district. Very little of the current report has to do with Brandman with most of the references from witnesses acknowledging he was in the office and his presence was known.
Asking IT staff to help stream the Pandora music service is about as serious a “wrongdoing” as the report gets. Especially if you prefer Spotify (and if your IT staff can’t figure out streaming, time to find new people).