Irvine pays Irvine Community News & Views $350K over Free Speech Lawsuit

For Irvine’s right wingers and certain developers with millions to spend to buy city councilors and the mayor, Larry Agran is Irvine’s biggest boogeyman.  And Irvine Community News & Views is Agran’s “fake newspaper” which publishes “fake news” right?

Wrong.

In America, anyone with a printing press can publish a newspaper and ICNV publishes news stories, sports stories and has a great community calendar page.  The news and views ARE DECIDEDLY progressive, much to the chagrin of Irvine Council member Christina Shea who would call on stores to stop distributing the paper and who led an effort to keep ICNV out of city hall — one of the few places you could find all sorts of free publications including OC Weekly.

Irvine City Council member Christina Shea

Well, Shea’s snit just cost taxpayers $350,000, paid to ICNV for violations of the city’s free speech ordinance.

From ICNV, this:

Beginning in early 2015, ICNV publisher Franklin J. Lunding sought to place copies of ICNV in the news racks located in the Irvine City Hall lobby, alongside other free newspapers allowed there, including the Irvine World News, a publication of the Orange County Register, which is friendly to the politicians at City Hall. In an act of hostility, the City repeatedly refused to allow display of ICNV, asserting ICNV was a “political related publication.”

According to publisher Lunding, “From the beginning, it was apparent that certain City Councilmembers and City management officials, motivated by animus, were discriminating against ICNV because of the paper’s frequent criticism of the Mayor and City Council, and what we believe to be their misguided policies.” Lunding continued, “Of course, criticism of government — at City Hall and elsewhere — is the time-honored role of a free press in a free society.”

After fruitless negotiations lasting nearly a year, ICNV hired attorneys Fredric Woocher and Jenna Miara of Strumwasser & Woocher LLP, and sued the City in the Federal District Court in February 2016, alleging violation of the newspaper’s First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and freedom of the press, as well as the right to equal protection under the State and U.S. Constitutions. Since that filing, instead of acknowledging any wrongdoing and taking corrective action, the City spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayer funds fighting the lawsuit.  First, the City tried to have the case dismissed — a move that was denied in a stinging order and ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Andrew J. Guilford; next, the City demanded extensive and unnecessary discovery in an obvious attempt to overwhelm ICNV with legal fees.

In June 2017, after adding yet another lawyer to the four already defending it, the City requested mediation.  The mediation resulted in the City of Irvine agreeing to pay ICNV a settlement in the amount of $350,000, and agreeing to a revision in the City’s policies, recognizing that ICNV and other newspapers must be treated equally at City Hall and in other City facilities — there can be no discrimination based on whether City officials like or dislike the “political” content of a newspaper. The City also agreed to allow lawyers to monitor the publications permitted at City facilities for a year to prevent future discrimination.

So Yay for free speech!

This reminder, the FPPC tells me the investigation into possible wrong doing by Shea is still an open investigation (it was begun in January 2016) suggesting it is not the open and shut case Shea says it is.

And while we’re on the subject of ICNV, if you’re an Irvine taxpayer who doesn’t like the landswap for the cemetery, you can sign an online petition here.

  17 comments for “Irvine pays Irvine Community News & Views $350K over Free Speech Lawsuit

  1. Alan
    July 13, 2017 at 2:36 pm

    When the emotion of hate takes over people tend to do things that make absolutely no sense at all. Christina proves the point by letting her hate for Larry Agran cost Irvine taxpayers $350,000 plus whatever the City had to pay their own attorneys.
    Has to be one of the dumbest things I have ever seen a Irvine council member do!

    • July 13, 2017 at 5:40 pm

      I called the corporate offices of Albertson’s after I heard she tried getting the paper pulled to let them know this was a newspaper in every sense of the word

      • July 15, 2017 at 9:27 am

        Michael Fox who is the husband of Princess Melissa Fox also violated free speech when he tossed a stack of the paper in trash at the last Irvine Democratic Club meeting. And was witnessed screaming this is Agrans paper. The Foxes living up to the namesake have forgotten the fact that if it was not for Larry Agran, Melissa wouldn’t be where she now.

  2. Junior
    July 13, 2017 at 9:10 pm

    I was with you from the beginning on this one Dan. Free speech is free speech. The only problem is that the culprits don’t pay – the burden falls on the taxpayers.

    • Alan
      July 14, 2017 at 10:53 am

      Junior, That is exactly why she needs to go in the next election.

      • junior
        July 16, 2017 at 4:51 pm

        No – Dems are even worse as far as … anything.

  3. Anon
    July 13, 2017 at 10:00 pm

    Does she still hate gay people?

    • Riverside Commissioner
      July 14, 2017 at 2:33 pm

      “Does she still hate gay people?”

      Don’t know but I’m pretty sure that former Santa Ana Planning Commissioner and Riverside resident Sean H Mill does.

      • July 14, 2017 at 3:23 pm

        But wait, he’s published hundreds of pro gay blog posts that no one can find on the Internet.

  4. junior
    July 17, 2017 at 6:53 am

    I support the First Amendment. However, I do not support a liberal propaganda spewing half-truth rag ….. so there’s that …

    • Alan
      July 17, 2017 at 5:11 pm

      Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and that is yours. I will take a progressive liberal rag over a mayor and council member who are owned by the developer and will do what ever that developer tells them to do. After all who are their constituents? The people or the developer who paid 1.5 million to get them elected?

  5. Christina
    July 18, 2017 at 8:58 am

    Well as usual the facts are not on the table in the OC Liberal as Dan you can’t seem to find the truth.. not with this story or the Veterans Cemetery proposal or other stories you print.
    The Community News and Views, is owned, operated and distributed By Larry Agran. His wife, Phyllis, a pediatric MD and and their daughter in law are the co owners of this publication, as was disclosed. Making money off false news and dishonest information, interesting… and now they are guests columnists? The Community News and Views wanted to settle and didn’t want to continue to defend their right to support Free Speech . This money went to attorney fees and Larry et al never fought to maintain their Free Speech rights or move forward to defend their publications right to remain in City Hall on display. …So much for standing your ground on principle.

    • Anonymous
      July 18, 2017 at 1:50 pm

      Thanks for taking time out of your day spent making your FivePoibt masters happy. Now get back to work screwing over the public for free babysitting

    • July 18, 2017 at 5:06 pm

      The name of the freaking blog is in my masthead; can you get that right please? So if you’re right, why is the city paying $350K?

    • July 18, 2017 at 6:46 pm

      So how big was the success fee paid to you and Mayor Wagner?

    • EmileBGone
      July 20, 2017 at 12:23 pm

      Making money off false news? That’s Fox and Brietbart.

      You do not fundamentally understand the First Amendment Ms. Shea. Big concepts about freedom elude you. You’re not that smart. How you keep getting elected is explained because FivePoint bought your ass a long time ago. You do their bidding. Not that of residents.

  6. Alan
    July 18, 2017 at 7:02 pm

    I heard that instead of letting the ICNV be at City Hall, no publications will be allowed there. Being so afraid of the truth must be a horrible way to live.

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