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Briefly In The News

March 03, 2011

Laguna Independent publisher leaves

Tom Johnson, publisher of the Laguna Beach and Newport Beach Independent newspapers, said Wednesday that he was resigning because he disagreed with his employers over issues related to advertising.

"There was some questionable handling of ad rates, offering one company a low rate and another a high rate," said Johnson. "I have a problem with that ethically. If it blows up, it's my reputation."

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Johnson has been publisher of the Newport Beach Independent since its first issue came out in June. He also served as publisher of the Independent's sister publication, the Laguna Beach Independent, which has a longer history.

He once served as publisher of the Coastline Pilot, as well as its sister publications, the Daily Pilot and Huntington Beach Independent. Those newspapers are owned by Times Community News.

The Independent papers are owned by businessman Allan Simon and his company, Firebrand Media LLC. Firebrand also publishes a slate of magazines and websites.

"It's all too complicated," Simon said of Johnson's departure. "Other than that, I have no comment."

Johnson said he'll continue working with a public relations company, Cat. 5 Communications, established with former colleagues from his newspaper days. He also said he has an invention coming out next month and remains open to future print media opportunities.

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The City Council is accepting applications for four, two-year terms on the Heritage Committee, and three two-year terms on the TechComm Committee, the terms of which would run from April 1 to April 1, 2013. Both committees generally meet once a month. Additionally, one member of the Environmental Committee has tendered his resignation. The Environmental Committee would like to fill that term, which expires Oct. 31, as soon as possible.

Interviews will be conducted at the council meeting at 6 p.m. March 22.

Laguna Beach residents who wish to serve should file an application with the City Clerk by 5 p.m. March 15. Applications may be obtained from the Clerk's office or at http://www.lagunabeachcity.net. Applications will not be accepted after the deadline.

— Cindy Frazier

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