When EnviroReporter.com received an e-mail with this subject line from the office of Los Angeles City Councilman Greig Smith on Tuesday, August 11, we sat straight up in our chairs and thought “Uh-oh, what did we do wrong?”
But as we were to find out, the rant we were about to read confirmed to us what we have found wanting in the councilman’s office — competence, follow-through and, now, an insulting attitude toward the media.
The screed was in reaction to our August 7 post “Eating Trammell Crow?” which quoted Smith’s chief planning director, Phyllis Winger. She was talking to environmental activist Bill Bowling of the Aerospace Cancer Museum of Education in Chatsworth-Lake Manor, during a council meeting in the Van Nuys city hall annex for the city of Los Angeles.
Bowling and Winger were discussing the city council’s 12-0 vote to okay the green-lighting of the Corporate Pointe at West Hills project that was the subject of my March 5 LA Weekly article “The Valley’s Galaxy of Goo – City planners make a slick zone change for easy building on toxic lands.”
Bowling had asked Winger how Smith could possibly believe that the site was safe for further development without an Environmental Impact Report along with re-zoning to a category that allows more contamination to be acceptable onsite.
Winger’s response was clear and unambiguous: “Councilmember Smith feels that if the property was unsafe that the [Department of Toxic Substances Control] would have told him so.”
But apparently our use of Bowling’s quote wasn’t good enough for a prominent staff member from Councilman Smith’s office who wrote:
Dear Mr. Collins – without getting into the content of your story, I’d like to point out to you that your quote from Ms. Winger on our staff was so badly twisted out of context that it is utterly meaningless.
You said you left messages but we didn’t return your phone calls before posting. In about 5 seconds, you could have google searched “Greig Smith” + press release and you would have found my cell phone number on any of our 50 press releases on our website. I suggest you try that before you publish on your blog that “We called Smith’s office to confirm the quote but received no callback before posting.” Try next time putting a wee bit more effort into that. Thanks. [Name and title redacted]