There’s no denying that Mayor’s Sam Sister City covers local politics and issues with more passion than any other blog. Written by a handful of bloggers led by Michael Higby, aka Mayor Sam, the site can be credited for making the happenings at City Hall more exciting for Los Angeles blog readers.
Unfortunately, after a series of missteps, their credibility as a reliable source is seriously in question.
1) As I wrote last night, contributor Walter Moore posted a piece about the cost of illegal immigrants with figures that were off by 1000%. After I pointed out the error, Walter and I had had a bit of back and forth before he acknowledged the mistake in the text of the original post, then deleted it. He reposted the article with more accurate numbers, and with a disclaimer at the bottom thanking:
the Mayor Sam reader who helped refine an earlier draft of this essay. To see the underlying figures and sources, visit L.A. Policy Institute.
I didn’t help “refine” a “draft”. I debunked an entire post… nothing draft about it. And he didn’t credit his “reader” by name. Since blogging.la is missing from the blogroll at Mayor Sam’s, I’m not going assume this was a mistake.
Speaking of the L.A. Policy Institute, its a new blog by Walter who appointed himself Chief Economist and Legal Analyst. Mayor Sam himself gives Walter Kudos for this, adding that:
Walter certainly has far more credibility as an “economist” than Chief Economist of the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation Jack Kyser.
2) At the top of Mayor Sam’s blog, there’s a call for whistle blowers that reads:
Do you have insider information to share? Call us or email your gossip, rumors and stories of shady government corruption. Anonymity guaranteed.
On Sunday, Mayor Sam himself, Michael Higby, posted the full text of a private email he was sent by Shelly Sloan, President of the State Bar. When I commented that this seemed inappropriate, Mayor Sam replied:
With regards to publishing reader letters, my policy if someone signs a letter and does not expressly indicate they need to be anonymous, its fair game.
So much for that “guarantee”. While Sloan’s email wasn’t about whistle blowing, it wasn’t left in the public comments, where Sloan could have certainly left his opinion if he wanted it, well, public, instead of sending it in confidence to Mayor Sam.
3) Mayor Sam recently announced that in order to make some money, he’d be posting the occasional paid ad, but didn’t feel obligated to point it out when he did. Only after pressure from commenters and, possibly, some contributors, he agreed to change the policy so that he’d clearly say when a post was paid for.
I certainly hope Mayor Sam and company will take a good hard look at what they’ve achieved in terms of having a robust site about City Hall that is entertaining and informative, but take some serious steps to require transparency, accountability, and credibility. You know – the standards they hold Los Angeles politicians to.