News online for Encinitas, Calif.

North Coast Current

News online for Encinitas, Calif.

North Coast Current

News online for Encinitas, Calif.

North Coast Current

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Newspaper publisher quietly steps into the political fray

Aside from urging Encinitas voters in an Oct. 12 editorial to “please, please, please” end the tenure of City Council members Jerome Stocks and Mark Muir, The Coast News publisher Jim Kydd is also using a separate website to sway the community.

Kydd is the registered owner of the political action site www.encinitaselection.com, the same entity identified as paying for “Dump Stocks, Fire Muir” advertising in the North County weekly newspaper and bumper stickers being distributed.

Stocks has been elected to the Encinitas City Council three times and is currently serving as mayor. Muir, the city’s former fire chief, was appointed interim councilman in October 2011 after the death of Councilwoman Maggie Houlihan.

Encinitaselection.com gives reasons why the incumbents should not be re-elected, citing past “despicable” campaigning and situations in which they showed their “true colors.”

There are three seats available on the City Council and there are nine candidates running.

“Let’s see – Muir supports Stocks, city appoints Muir Fire Chief, Muir retires on $170,000 a year city pension, Stocks gets Muir interim council appointment,” the site states.

“This is a you help me, I help you situation,” Kydd said in an interview. “(Stocks and Muir) control the city.”

Although the website does not disclose Kydd as its owner, Internet registration data (also known as WHOIS) showed him and The Coast News as the domain name holders and administrative contacts. A registration check on Oct. 12 showed the domain’s information publicly. As of Oct. 19, however, the domain information had been set to private.

(Update: The North Coast Current has attached supporting documentation in this article’s gallery to counter accusations that this story’s information is inaccurate. U-T San Diego’s Oct. 25 story reports that Kydd is the website’s registered business owner in county records. On follow-up, the Current was also able to locate this record.)

Kydd said he didn’t feel the need to disclose that information on the site or on any advertising.

“I wanted to keep the integrity of the newspaper, but I don’t want to deny my own rights as a citizen to express myself, either,” Kydd said.

“I am a human being too,” he added.

Although he confirmed he is the registered owner of encinitaselection.com, Kydd said the “Dump Stocks, Fire Muir” ads in the newspaper and bumper stickers are paid advertising. The ads and bumper stickers state “Paid for by EncinitasElection.com” in small print.

“Those are political ads put in by other people, not The Coast News,” Kydd said.

Several attempts were made to reach Stocks and Muir for comment, but they did not respond.

Dean Nelson, director of journalism at Point Loma Nazarene University, weighed in on the development. He said it’s odd that Kydd does not continue to use the opinion pages of The Coast News to persuade voters.

“I am not sure if it’s unethical, but I would say it’s a little unusual for a newspaper (publisher) to take this additional step into founding a campaign,” Nelson said.

“I would think of all people who should be open about all things, a newspaper owner would want more openness instead of this kind of secrecy,” he added.

City Council candidate Lisa Shaffer, who is being endorsed by Kydd alongside Tony Kranz, said she was “unhappy” to see her recent campaign advertising on the front page of The Coast News above a “Dump Stocks, Fire Muir” ad.

“I wish it had not been that way, but as an advertiser I have no control over the content,” Shaffer said.

“Plus we live in a democracy; people get to say what they want to say,” she added.

Kranz said he agrees that Stocks and Muir need to be replaced, but he is ready to accept what the community decides on Nov. 6.

“I could frankly end up serving with (both candidates), if voters chose not to ‘Dump Stocks’ and not ‘Fire Muir.’ I look forward to serving with them,” Kranz said.

About Kydd trying to keep the integrity of the newspaper intact, Nelson said, “If (he’s) having this additional site, I think (he’s) already started sacrificing the integrity of the newspaper.”

Ernesto Lopez is a San Diego freelance writer

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Newspaper publisher quietly steps into the political fray