Now most people in town know just how terribly sensitive Mountain Views News publisher Susan Henderson is about having her colorful history discussed. Her fall from grace as the #2 official in the California Democratic Party in 1995 has been recounted before. Revelations regarding fabrications on her resume' (Susan possesses neither the law degree or MBA she claimed), or the use of the Democratic Party's credit card for such things as golf junkets and Victoria's Secret purchases, have been weighed here as well. Many people in the course of their lives lose jobs, of course. But rarely for reasons quite as embarrassing as these.
But apparently there is something else that Susan would prefer to not hear talked about, and that is the actual origins of the paper she publishes. In an op-ed piece in this weekend's MVN Susan proudly crows about her paper's latest anniversary. Which is either the 4th or 5th depending on how you're counting. And there, amidst all the name dropping and other self-serving malarkey, is this rather preposterous claim:
In August 2007, I, Mountain Views News Publisher and Editor, Susan Henderson, embarked on an ambitious endeavor by creating this publication, a community newspaper committed to providing news, not gossip or innuendo, to Sierra Madre, Pasadena, Altadena, Monrovia and Arcadia.
Now the "not gossip or innuendo" bit is rather revealing in a Freudian slip kind of way. Can you imagine the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, or even the Pasadena Star News feeling the need to proclaim - and in a celebratory anniversary op-ed no less - that what they print is actually true? A newspaper confident about the veracity of its reporting would never need to justify itself in so peculiar a manner. Of course, anyone familiar with the gross inaccuracies contained in the Mountain Views News attacks on Sierra Madre's City Clerk, as a recent example, should understand why Susan might need to deny something so clearly obvious to many.
The paper now known as the Mountain Views News did not get its start in August of 2007 as Susan claims. Rather it was first launched on October 1, 2006 as The Mt. Wilson Observer. It was on that date Katina Dunn and Susan Henderson, after having left the Sierra Madre Weekly, set out to bring this community the kind of coverage it hadn't seen much of in the previous 5 years. That being reporting free from the suffocating influence of large corporate developers, realty and utility interests that control so much of what passes for news in the San Gabriel Valley. That the Observer's truth-telling was successful can be seen in the passage of Measure V, the historic development initiative that wrested control of this community's future away from those same powerful economic interests. Interests that spent well over $170,000 in their failed attempt to defeat it.
However, it was an alliance that wouldn't last. Due to Susan's repeated failures to honor her financial obligations in this business partnership, Katina Dunn was forced to take Ms. Henderson to Court. And in a devastating denunciation of the defendant's often surreal claims by California Superior Court Judge Edward C. Simpson, the case was decided on behalf of the Plaintiff. Here is that decision verbatim:
Katina Dunn, Plaintiff
DEUXAMIS PUBLISHING, INC., a California corporation; SUSAN HENDERSON, an individual; and DOES 1 through 20, inclusive. Defendants.
Case NO. GC039149
This case came on regularly for Trial on December 8, 2008 through December 9, 2008 in Department R of the above-entitled Court, the Honorable Edward C. Simpson, Judge presiding. Plaintiff, KATINA DUNN ("DUNN"), appeared by her attorney of record, LAURA V. FARBER of Hahn and Hahn. Defendant, H. SUSAN HENDERSON ("HENDERSON") appeared In Pro Per. Witnesses on the part of both Plaintiff and Defendant were sworn in open Court and examined and exhibits were admitted into evidence. After hearing the testimony, reviewing the evidence and the arguments of counsel, the Court rendered its decision as follows:
Based on findings of fact and application of the law, the Court issued a Judgement for DUNN against HENDERSON on the shareholder derivative claims brought against HENDERSON for breach of fiduciary duty.
WHEREFORE, by virtue of the law, IT IS ORDERED, ADJUDGED AND DECREED that DEUXAMIS PUBLISHING INC. ("DEUXAMIS") has a judgement against HENDERSON in the amount of $41,994.74 on the basis of HENDERSON's failure to provide capital contributions to DEUXAMIS.
WHEREFORE, by virtue of the law, IT IS ORDERED, ADJUDGED AND DECREED that DEUXAMIS be dissolved.
WHEREFORE, by virtue of the law, IT IS ORDERED, ADJUDGED AND DECREED that due to HENDERSON'S misappropriation of design, masthead and formatting of the Mount-Wilson Observer, that injunctive relief be granted against HENDERSON and that she be required to eliminate use of the word "OBSERVER" in all Mountain Views News newspapers, published both in print and on website and on any other documents bearing the name, "Mountain Views-Observer."
WHEREFORE, by virtue of the law, IT IS ORDERED, ADJUDGED AND DECREED that DUNN as a shareholder having successfully brought a shareholder derivative claim on behalf of DEUXAMIS, is the prevailing party against HENDERSON.
Dated: DEC 30 2008
Edward C. Simpson
Judge of the Superior Court
Based on what you can read in this decision by Judge Simpson, Susan Henderson's "ambitious endeavor" to create a newspaper in August of 2007 (one that in many ways already existed) turns out to be something decidedly different from what she is now claiming. Rather it was about the collapse of a business partnership with Katina Dunn, due almost exclusively to Henderson's refusal to pay her fair share of the costs associated with running a weekly newspaper. A failure which led Judge Simpson to hit Henderson with an almost $42,000 judgement. Most of which reportedly remains unpaid nearly two years later.
And while Susan declares today that she was being "ambitious' in August of 2007, in December of 2008 Judge Simpson declared her "endeavor" a "misappropriation" as key aspects of the paper she was by then publishing were not legally hers to use. They belonged to Katina. Misappropriation in this case being perhaps the politest of the words available to describe so unfortunate an occurrence.
It is no wonder Henderson felt the need to airbrush so inconvenient a person as Katina Dunn out of her fanciful account of this paper's creation. And while this is obviously another of Susan's cyclical pleas for respect, I can't see how anyone aware of the facts could ever fall for it.
One more point
In the not too distant future the paper now known as the Mountain Views News will be up for a new contract with the City. The money the MVN is provided by City Hall being pretty much what keeps it afloat. Given the predilection of this paper's publisher to repeatedly launch nasty and untrue attacks on both taxpayers and those elected officials who do not agree with the pro-development majority on the City Council, it must now be asked if perhaps there is another agenda at work beyond the mere printing of legal advertising. Face it, you'd have to look hard and long to find another adjudicated local weekly newspaper in this country that publishes the kinds of ugly attacks found in the MVN. This is hardly business as usual in America.
One of the obligations of any City Council is moral leadership. If ours should choose to continue to fund this paper or, as rumor has it, even reward it with a raise, then it must be assumed that what is published there is done with the sanction of both the City Council and City Staff.
After all, these jobs do come with responsibilities. It is time they lived up to one of them. And isn't this City Council all about fostering civility? I'd hate to think that they're breaking all of their campaign promises this soon.