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The Independent Isn't

Original post made by Alan Marling, Livermore, on Jul 30, 2021

From her hilltop mansion, Joan Seppala dictated to her newspaper to portray her as a working-class hero. Or at least on June 10th The Independent published an editorial titled "Setting the Record Straight" that attempted to cast its owner in the best possible light. This was in response to a May 25th article in the San Francisco Chronicle and a community outcry against Joan Seppala at a Livermore Council Meeting, where despite her best efforts to stop it, affordable housing passed in a unanimous vote.

Joan Seppala uses her money and her local newspaper to attempt to control the city of Livermore. She distributes The Independent to residents whether they ask for it or not. Not only has she opposed affordable housing and local solar energy, she also wants to have her cake and eat it too by portraying herself as in favor of those necessities, really. Her paper labels things she opposes as “controversial” then creates that controversy. She printed full-age ads misrepresenting the appearance of Eden Housing and diverted attention from this and other actual solutions. Rather than campaigning against affordable housing directly, she tries to undermine projects that could be built by comparing them with seemingly better ones that never will be.

She prints “alternative plans” that are so impractical they are unlikely to be constructed in her lifetime. Former Livermore Mayor John Marchand called her housing plan a “fantasy.” Her energy plan called for solar panels on top of roofs and parking lots; that's twice as expensive and half as realistic as those in the Aramis Project, which she fought against and is now delayed with lawsuits she helped fund. Blocking the Aramis Project forces us to continue to rely on dirty energy generated in Hayward, polluting a region with more working-class and people of color. The lawsuit against Aramis Project also keeps local union workers from much-needed employment. She likely also hopes to litigate against Eden Housing, based on the ads promising, “We will be reviewing available options to remedy this terrible mistake.” Those who sign the petition will likely be later asked to fund the lawsuit.

In the June 10th puff piece her paper wrote for her, she again makes the claim that she and the political group she funds are in favor of affordable housing. On the very next page, a huge ad by this same group retaliates against the City Council that approved the affordable housing and makes another dubious claim about the building site.

Her paper has consistently misrepresented the facts of the projects she opposes, both in the ads it approves and its main content. The Independent published a full article on April 14th presenting the “alternative plan.” This top story included no byline and was not journalism. It was propaganda.

Joan Seppala also bankrolls the group Friends of Livermore, which argued against solar on Earth Day. Specifically during a 2021 Alameda Supervisors meeting, Friends of Livermore said the “public need for solar is overstated or doesn’t exist.” On Earth Day. Her recent campaigns have fought against both the urgent needs of Californians and truth itself.

If Joan Seppala truly cares for her community, she must care for affordable housing and local solar energy. And if she truly cares for those, she must oppose filing legal suit against Eden Housing and urge for the withdrawal of the suits against Aramis Solar. If instead she continues to double and triple down on her ill-informed claims, she has no business running a newspaper. As is, the Independent isn’t independent of the political agendas of its owner.

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