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Candidate accuses official of 'sabotage' on video message

Text was placed over Bob Wentzel's campaign video, which he says distracts viewers and makes him appear 'unprofessional.' City agreed to remove text, but Wentzel has more demands.

October 17, 2012|By Michael Miller

A Huntington Beach City Council candidate's campaign team has decried a city official's decision to superimpose a written message on a video that features the candidate discussing his campaign.

Chuck Foster, a photographer and videographer for first-time candidate Bob Wentzel, submitted a letter Tuesday morning to the city attorney's office complaining about the text placement. In particular, he lambasted city spokeswoman Laurie Frymire for her decision to allow the text, calling it a deliberate attempt to "frustrate, hinder, undermine and otherwise sabotage" Wentzel's campaign.

Although the letter was signed by Foster, Wentzel said Tuesday that he had co-written it.

The city invited all council candidates to stop by City Hall in September to record three-minute video messages describing themselves and their platforms. Frymire, who handled the correspondence, asked that videos be about three minutes long and refrain from attacking other candidates or discussing issues in depth.

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In addition to appearing on the city website, the videos have been broadcast on HBTV3, the city's public access channel.

Despite the time guidelines, Wentzel recorded a message less than a minute long in which he urged voters to check his website to learn more about him. The city ultimately posted the video on its website with Wentzel's message shown three times in a row and the words "Repeated at candidates [sic] request" superimposed in yellow over the two replays.

Those words, according to Foster's letter, distracted viewers from Wentzel's spoken message and made him "appear greedy, unprofessional and seemingly seeking and getting special favors not afforded the other candidates."

Frymire said Wednesday that she had ordered the video removed from the TV schedule and asked the city's webmaster to remove it online, and that the city would re-broadcast it without the text.

However, Wentzel said if the city does not agree to a list of other demands, he is prepared to file a lawsuit against Frymire and possibly the city as a whole. Among other things, he demands that the city make him a personal DVD containing versions of the video with and without the text, and that the city pay the cost of an apology letter to be sent to 64,000 registered voter households.

In the letter Foster sent to the city attorney's office, he and Wentzel set a deadline of 5 p.m. Thursday for the city to comply.

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