ABV News’ sixth issue hit digital news racks Monday, this time with a little less sensationalism and a little more transparency. Robert Braunstein, high school sportscaster and defeated District 10 City Council candidate, now signs his name at the end of the newsletter, which includes news links and a brief editorial.
“This is the first newsletter where, I think, he got some facts correct,” says Councilman Johnny Khamis, who in November beat Braunstein with 52.5 percent of the votes. “I’m glad he’s putting his name to it because it used to be just an unfactual—I don’t know how to be generous here. Let’s just say at least he got his facts straight and put calls in to my office and others.”
Khamis, who says he has fielded calls from constituents over ABV News, appreciated the recent issue’s commentary on gay marriage, written after the City Council voted last week to add San Jose to an amicus brief going before the Supreme Court, as it considers whether to overturn Prop. 8. (Khamis missed that vote.) But the council member says he remains unsure of Braunstein’s larger goal.
Here’s an excerpt of the sympathetic, if not awkwardly worded, editorial about “Gays” and their uphill legal battle to marry closes the Feb. 18 newsletter:
“This is an emotional issue that can bring in different parts of society. As [Councilman] Pete Constant said, it involves your church and faith. It involves the sanctity of marriage. It involves our feelings about Gay people. If Gays are to be considered truly equal then they should be allowed to marry … Like the Civil Rights movement of the 60s, we will look back at this time as one of a compassionate nation doing what is right for a minority needing our support.”
The comparison to the Civil Rights era rings true, but calling the struggle now and then an example of “a compassionate nation” doing the right thing sounds a little like revisionist history. There is nothing compassionate about segregation, race riots, assassinations, hate crimes or the Westboro Baptist Church.
Braunstein graduated with a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and has covered Bay Area high school sports for more than 20 years. He says the goal of ABV News is to inform the community he ran to represent, and maybe even make some money on the side.
“My goal is to have a good information source for the area that I thought was lacking during the campaign,” he says. “I plan to make this a long-term effort that will eventually bring in some sponsorship revenue.”
Adding his name to the newsletter, he says, was done in an effort to make them more personable.
“Initially, I thought ABV News would be its own identity since I get the items from lots of people and sources,” Braunstein says. “Merc editorials do not have names attached and most people don’t know who they are. But I think I should take responsibility for what is being written, so I decided to put it in there this week.”
The political ambitions that inspired his newsletter have been cast aside, he says.
“I have no plans to run for office ever again,” Braunstein says. “My show is doing very well and I have plans for my production company that will keep me from running in the future. It was an educational experience. I’m glad I ran. I met some great people. But politics is behind me now.”
Khamis still feels the newsletter is an extension of the race.
“Honestly, I thought the race was over; maybe he doesn’t,” Khamis says. “If he wants to be helpful to the community, I support that. I think that providing information is helpful, as long as it’s done correctly. He studies journalism, he shouldn’t have been doing what he was doing earlier.
“He was putting a tiny bit of fact and a whole lot of conjecture.”
ABV News’ Facebook page is now up to 80 fans. Khamis isn’t one of them.