Write Supervisor Todd Spitzer and demand Matt's removal from his post with the county:
From The OC Register:
County labor leaders on Wednesday called for the removal of a county parks commissioner and prominent Republican political consultant who outraged Latinos with a blog post mocking victims of police shootings.
Matthew Cunningham, who writes about Anaheim civic affairs, posted photos last week of a damaged stuffed animal next to a Virgin of Guadalupe votive candle – items commonly found at Latino memorials. He staged the scene, and wrote comments likening the stuffed bear to men killed in racially charged police shootings. Cunningham also made light of activists’ responses to those fatal shootings.
This image of a damaged stuffed animal -- in a scene arranged, photographed and published by the Anaheim Blog -- offended some Latinos and prompted questions by County Supervisor Todd Spitzer and union leader Nick Berardino.
He wrote of the mauled animal, “This senseless tragedy seems to have struck a chord with the community,” and discussed “teddy bear participation in Anaheim municipal government.”
The blog post was soon condemned by mothers of the shooting victims, and reopened wounds that the city had been trying to heal over the past year. In the summer of 2012, two fatal police shootings touched off riots and exposed Anaheim Latinos’ discontent with police, their representation at City Hall, and highlighted a general divide between Anaheim’s haves and have-nots. The ACLU has since sued Anaheim to gain more Latino representation on the City Council.
“He’s managed to assault and affront a whole community,” said Orange County Employees Association General Manager Nick Berardino, “and he shouldn’t be allowed to remain in a position of authority in our county.”
Berardino wrote Supervisor Todd Spitzer on Wednesday, calling for Cunningham’s removal from the Orange County Parks Commission. Each of the five supervisors appoints a member.
Cunningham took down the post on Monday, and described the post as satire gone awry.
“My point was that liberal interest groups exploit tragedies of violence for political agendas,” he said in an interview Wednesday. “The point got lost. In retrospect, I can see how it got taken the wrong way, and I’m legitimately sorry for anyone who was hurt.”
Spitzer said he “was deeply taken aback” when he saw the photos and writings about the staged memorial Wednesday morning, and asked Cunningham for an explanation. But the two had not talked by the afternoon, and Spitzer said he would withhold judgment.
Spitzer said he expected to make a decision by Jan. 14, the next time the supervisors meet, and the first opportunity they could take action on the appointment; he said the full board would have to vote on a removal.
“He is my commissioner,” Spitzer said, “so what he does reflects on me and my judgment.”
“I’ve known Matt a long time,” he added, “and I haven’t seen behavior that is bigoted. I need to talk to him about that.”
Cunningham is a longtime Republican operative and considered part of Anaheim’s power structure. He was deputy press secretary for former Anaheim Mayor Curt Pringle, when Pringle was State Assembly speaker, and he worked on Rep. Darrell Issa’s, R-Vista, first campaign for Congress.
In 2004, Cunningham launched OC Blog, which is now defunct but was the premier county blog for Republicans for several years. His current blog, anaheimblog.net, focuses on “city government, candidates and campaigns, issues and events, moving and shaking.”
Cunningham also consults for the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce, which is a major player in the current political power structure. Some media reports linked the chamber to the blog. On Wednesday, the chamber issued a statement saying it didn’t own or control the website, but that it works with Cunningham on other communications projects.
“While we also believe that this post was insensitive,” Chamber President Todd Ament wrote, “Mr. Cunningham has since apologized for the post and removed it. At this time, we will continue to engage his professional services on unrelated matters.”
Cunningham’s wife, Laura, is also active in Republican politics and has served as executive director of the Republican Party of Orange County. She is also a Mexican immigrant, Cunningham noted.
Staff writer Martin Wisckol contributed to this report.