11:19 PM PDT on Thursday, April 29, 2010

By IMRAN GHORI and DUANE W. GANG
The Press-Enterprise

Fontana city officials are accusing San Bernardino County Supervisor Paul Biane of sending out a misleading campaign mailer that attacks Councilwoman Janice Rutherford, one of his opponents in the June 8 election.

The mailer criticizes Rutherford, saying she is a “big spender” who went on a “reckless shopping spree with your $$$!” It features Rutherford’s photo on a likeness of the Energizer Bunny but with “spending” written across the drum.

Rutherford, who has been on the council since 2000, said the city’s budget increases reflect increased services provided by the city as the population doubled over the decade. The city has added police, improved roads and built new parks and a library to meet the growing demands, she said.

Rutherford said Biane is trying to tear her down because she’s running against him for the 2nd District supervisorial seat.

“I think he’s having trouble defending his own record,” she said. “I don’t think voters feel they can trust him.”

The mailer has also prompted an angry response from Fontana Mayor Mark Nuaimi, who described it as “an insult to anyone associated with the city.”

“It’s a complete butchering of the truth,” he said.

Even while the city grew, the proportion of city employees to residents remained at about three employees for every 1,000 residents, he said.
Story continues below

Biane campaign consultant Chris Jones said the mailer is an accurate representation of Rutherford’s record. Instead of conserving, Rutherford and the City Council kept spending, Jones said.

“Councilwoman Rutherford has a record as an elected official and is going to have to defend that,” Jones said. “The facts are on our side. Some of the other Fontana politicians may not like to hear that, but they aren’t running.”

The mailer also includes a quote attributed to The Press-Enterprise on July 22, 2006 about the Fontana budget.
Story continues below

“The budget increased spending by 17% over last year’s budget … but instead of taking a break, Councilmembers spent Wednesday reviewing just how they are going to keep it up,” the mailer read.

A story about the city’s budget appeared in the June 22, 2006, edition of The Press-Enterprise.

However, the mailer merges parts of two different sentences in a different order and makes some wording changes.

“The sentence attributed to The P-E is misleading. Some words from two disparate sentences were combined to create a false and deceptive political message,” said Maria De Varenne, editor and vice president/news. “This is why we do not allow our copyright news content, particularly excerpts of our news stories, to be used for political or commercial purposes.”

To read entire story, click here.