The following article was printed on page 2 in the Mid-December 2015 Fullerton Observer, which is edited by Sharon Kennedy.
Setting The Record Straight Concerning the Articles About Me in the Fullerton Observer’s Early November 2014 Edition by Barry Levinson
In the following remarks I will set the record straight concerning the Fullerton Observer’s inaccurate reporting of an alleged misdemeanor assault and battery incident in the lobby of City Hall August 19, 2014, during the Fullerton City Council meeting. Despite the fact that this incident never occurred, the Fullerton Police Department attempted to build a case against me. There were statements that were made in the Fullerton Observer that unfairly and inaccurately taint my good reputation.
The facts are these:
a. The Orange County District Attorney declined to prosecute the misdemeanor assault and battery charges presented by the FPD for lack of evidence on October 20, 2014.
b. On October 21, 2014 during the Fullerton Council meeting the alleged victim, Ms. Grisenti, when asked by Council member Flory to verify that I touched her stated that she could not remember. It is important to know that the city videotape of the city hall lobby was not available at that meeting and its’ existence was ignored during this supposed investigation. Finally, when the tape was later produced by the city, it clearly showed that the allegations were false.
The Fullerton Observer article about the alleged incident concerning Ms. Grisenti was a three-page story beginning on the front page. The headline read “City Commissioner Questioned for Alleged Assault at City Hall”. However, on Page 4 as the story continued the headline read, “City Commissioner Questioned in Assault” and then again on Page 16 as the story concluded the headline read, “City Commissioner Assault”. My attorney asked specifically that the Fullerton Observer provide a retraction of those obvious errors but Ms. Kennedy instead chose to continue to support her original reporting by stating the following: “The report did not accuse Mr. Levinson of any wrong doing, was not intended to harm Mr. Levinson, and was merely a report of police investigation and allegations.” Ms. Kennedy went on to state as follows: “The editor of the Fullerton Observer stands by the report in the November 2014 paper…”. The latter two headlines clearly states that it was an assault by me, when Ms. Kennedy knew that all charges were dropped for lack of evidence.
The Fullerton Observer in the same edition published an article written by former council member and FSD teacher Pam Keller entitled, “Failure to Act on Bully at City Hall”. In the article, Ms. Keller made an outrageous and totally unsubstantiated comment that stated: “Barry Levinson has a history of bad behavior in the community and at City Council meetings.” No evidence, no proof – just unmitigated character assassination by Ms. Keller.
Any news story with unsubstantiated negative claims is not a story fit to be in any newspaper.
Ms. Keller stated at council on October 21, 2014 that she received a copy of the entire police report earlier that day. I only received a copy of the police report approximately 4 hours before the start of that council session. Why and how did a private citizen get an advanced copy of my police report?
Publishing a local newspaper is a noble endeavor. My sincere hope is that the Fullerton Observer recognizes that words were used, i.e. bully, bad behavior, Commissioner Assault, etc. that obviously have a negative impact on my reputation. The erroneous reporting of this incident greatly harmed my family as well. In the future they should be more careful when using such words.
Accuracy in reporting is a sacred bond between the editor and the reader. Words do matter and since a primary goal of any newspaper is to inform their readers, accuracy is essential for it to do its’ job well.
My reputation is extremely important to me. I take great care in providing accurate information whether in the articles I write for the fullertoninformer.com or fullertontaxpayers.org and speaking before the city council. I do care about my reputation and newspapers should always be vigilant to not intentionally or even unintentionally write one word that inaccurately harms that reputation.
Question: Why did the Fullerton Observer’s Sharon Kennedy continue to 100% support her newspaper reports concerning me in the Observer Response on the bottom of page 1 of the Early October 2015 edition? It is clear based on just the facts alone that there were indeed numerous inaccuracies/errors/misstatements.
Question: As already asked by me above, why did former Fullerton city council member and FSD teacher Pam Keller, a private citizen with no involvement in the alleged incident receive from the FPD a complete copy of my police report before the general public and maybe even before I received my copy of the report?
Lastly, I wish I could have more good things to say about our City of Fullerton government and those that work very closely to support them when they are wrong. However, I have to deal with the facts, as they are, nothing more and nothing less. After all, complements should always be both sincere and well deserved.
I do want to wish all the good people of Fullerton as well as all my friends and family a wonderful Christmas and a joyous, prosperous, healthy and blessed 2016. After all the birth of Jesus signals the beginning of good things to come for the entire world to share. As we usher in another anniversary of his birth, I am optimistic that more and more people starting in 2016 will accept the compassion and morals that Jesus represents.