Opinion » Shredder

Ad wars!


Looks like a certain former North County “power couple” is in the news again, but not in a good way. Attorney Christopher Lewi recently began placing ads in county newspapers … well, wait a minute. “Ads” might not be the right word. They’re more like wanted posters with a headline that screams, “Wanted: Information Concerning Debtors Whereabouts $2500 REWARD,” over photos of David “Watch Me Squander an Inherited $100 Million Fortune” Weyrich and his wife Mary “Watch Me Attack Planned Parenthood” Weyrich.

This “deeply pious” and totally not-raging-hypocritical Catholic couple ended up screwing over a lot of people during their slow spiral into what they claim is now total poverty, though they somehow manage to fly back and forth between homes in North Carolina and Ojai, not to mention visits to the Carlton Hotel, formerly owned by the Weyrichs but now controlled by a legally shielded LLC like a lot of their old assets. I hear that when Weyrich visits the hotel his family still manages, he takes over the entire second floor, Howard Hughes style! Sounds like the Weyrichs, who lost so, so much, are really struggling. Boohoo!

Lewi represents business partners Cliff Branch and Jim Smith, who loaned Weyrich $1.7 million on a personal guarantee … and Weyrich burned them unlike the devout Catholic he claims to be. The question Branch and Smith want answered is simple: Are the Weyrichs actually broke, or did they hide assets to avoid paying their substantial debts? The longtime business partners have spent years trying to serve the Weyrichs summonses to appear for a debtors examination, but the bi-coastal couple has proved elusive, which is weird because David Weyrich looks like Jabba the Hutt in a wheelchair and Mary holds seminars on how to destroy Planned Parenthood and force women to have unwanted babies because Jesus! How hard can they be to spot? Christ on a crutch!

Who knows? Maybe the Weyrichs are totally broke and are really pious and are just following Pope Francis’ message of embracing poverty and somehow magically use Jesus-power to fly from coast to coast and take over hotel floors and clothe and feed themselves.

“I’ll have the loaves and fishes, thank you very much. Oh, and a bit more of that formerly-water-now-wine.” 

And speaking of Branch, Smith, and Atascadero: According to scuttlebutt, the conservative town—that’s done everything in its power to keep medical marijuana out of the reach of A-Town patients—is about to get a big fat Dope Leaf on a billboard that will also feature a city of Atascadero ad for the Atascadero Zoo.

Branch and Smith ended up with the billboards, formerly owned by Weyrich, but as part of their deal to operate them, city officials essentially strong-armed them into giving up a portion of each billboard to a city advertisement … for free. The agreement also said no alcohol ads (except wine, because it’s in the Bible), and nothing city officials consider pornographic. Since there was no mention of medical marijuana, the business partners checked out prospective advertiser Diamond Cannabis Direct, found they were licensed and legit, and agreed to place the ad, which should be going up around April 1 (no joke!). Just to be polite, Branch wrote the city and asked officials if they still wanted their portion of this big-ass pot billboard, and they surprisingly did, so next month look for a medical marijuana ad sharing space with a zoo ad.

Hey A-Town, I’ve got your new town motto! “Get stoned and go to the zoo!” 

I’ve heard Planned Parenthood and an unnamed gun control advocacy group have also approached Branch and Smith about their A-Town billboards. Things could get interesting up there in Tea Party Land.

And speaking of another interesting ad kerfuffle, Mustang News, Cal Poly’s student-run paper, ran a front-page exposé about the sad state of Campus Dining options, which noted that only 12 percent of all 314 Campus Dining entrees qualified as “healthy.” Suddenly Campus Dining and the Cal Poly Corporation that runs it pulled its print ads from the paper, cutting the paper’s funding by about $4,000 a month! Campus Dining claimed it was merely “revisiting its advertising and marketing strategy,” but the timing seems pretty suspect, don’t you think?

Meanwhile, Mustang News has reported it will be placing more so-called “native ads,” which are basically advertisements disguised as news stories.

“As Mustang News’ former editor-in-chief, I understand why it’s controversial,” outgoing editor Jacob Lauing wrote in a co-authored editorial with incoming editor Kayla Missman. “Sponsored content feels sneaky. It feels unethical, and it feels ingenuine.”

Yes, yes it does, but that didn’t stop the two journalism students from defending such ads. Interestingly enough, the Cal Poly Corporation is purportedly taking out the first native ad in Mustang News. Maybe it will be a fake story about how not totally awful the food is on campus and about how meal-plan prices are not a total rip-off.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got the second floor of an Atascadero hotel to stake out because that $2,500 is mine! I’m coming for you, Jabba! 

The Shredder is impervious to ads. Send ideas and comments to shredder@newtimesslo.com.


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