The Westmar Sun is "a Web-based journal of news and opinion about Mar Vista and the Westdales," small L.A. neighborhoods on the border of Santa Monica. Journalist George Garrigues runs the site in part as a watchdog over the Mar Vista Community Council, one of the new elected citizen panels gaining official status (and access to $50,000 in city funds yearly) around Los Angeles. When Garrigues recently demanded the MVCC's list of residents' names, home addresses and email addresses, the board of directors chose instead to destroy the records. The ensuing fight over public records vs. privacy is getting a lot of play in the Sun and has caught the attention of Robert Gelfand, who writes from San Pedro for the American Reporter website.
Who controls the use of your email address? A struggle in the small Los Angeles suburb of Mar Vista is exposing some of the issues...
What we have here in microcosm is the story of a new technology that has revolutionized communication but is showing the strains of its success. In much less than a lifetime we have gone from stamped envelopes to electronic mail. The difference is that junk mail is slow and relatively expensive, whereas email is fast and inexpensive. The spammers can send out hundreds of thousands of unwanted irritations in minutes, and we recipients have little recourse.
For this reason, there is widespread antipathy to anyone who even thinks about sending unsolicited emails of other than a private nature.
Mar Vista residents have the right to say, "I didn't give the MVCC permission to give out my email address, so they shouldn't." Even George Garrigues concedes politely that most of the email subscribers probably did not know that they were subjecting themselves to this possibility.
The Mar Vista council meets Tuesday night. Garrigues may be known to some readers here as the researcher behind Los Angeles in the 1900s, a website that has extracted news, illustrations and ads out of Los Angeles newspapers published between 1900-1909.