San Fernando Valley blogger and activist Michael Higby, who elicited both awe and anger with his sarcastic and restless blog covering Los Angeles politics, has died aged 50.
The founder and publisher of Sister town of Mayor Sam, who had long struggled with a serious illness, was found unconscious in his vehicle on Wednesday following a visit to the dentist, said Scott Johnson, senior blogger at Mayor Sam’s site.
“Michael was the city’s most dedicated business blogger and, thanks to Mayor Sam, really helped generate a lot of blogging and community activism, which has been a great contribution to civic life in Los Angeles,” said Ron Kaye, former editor and blogger of Daily News. .
Higby’s blog mirrored much of the Internet – “he was a cowardly gun that would sometimes hit home runs and sometimes do rude things, but that’s what public conversation is supposed to be about. It’s about everyone having a say, ”Kaye said. “Mayor Sam was the first major site that brought attention to the fact that the public can speak out and be heard.”
Higby, a resident of Sunland-Tujunga, has been the site’s main blogger for years and his populist blog has given many disgruntled parties in the city a voice on important issues such as development, density, leadership, cronyism and the environment, said Bart Reed. , executive director of the San Fernando Valley-based company The Public Transit Coalition, a nonprofit organization that deals with land use planning, transit advocacy, and the movement of goods serving Southern California.
Higby, who took an interest in local politics and transportation issues, started Mayor Sam’s colorful blog with town hall insiders in 2004 and it quickly gained a large following, he said. declared. Although Higby’s role and blog following have diminished in recent years, the site has been used as a platform by those who want to disseminate information that will not be published in mainstream media, Reed said.
Campaigners used the blog, for example, to voice their opposition to a Home Depot store project in Sunland, which was successfully blocked years ago. In 2010, Assembly Member Mike Gatto D-Glendale threatened legal action against Higby and Johnson for scathing reports about politician as Gatto, who was then running for a full two-year term after winning a special election, called it defamatory. Higby relented, saying he couldn’t afford a legal fight.
Higby was a San Fernando Valley influencer whose political views likely played a role in the victories of City Councilor Paul Krekorian in 2009 as well as MP Patty Lopez (D-San Fernando) last year, which resulted in been considered the biggest upheaval in the Assembly over the past two decades. said local political and cultural writer Joseph Mailander, a friend of Higby’s.
“He had a lot of influence… in the valley,” Mailander said. “He knew how to approach it at the right time and in the right kind of media.”
At a time when this was controversial, Higby also actively campaigned and worked for the Metro Red Line to arrive in the San Fernando Valley, Reed said.
Higby’s disease resulted in his tall stature and a trailing leg and while he could easily have considered himself disabled, he never wanted to, Mailander said. In fact, he had been the primary caretaker for his mother, who died a few weeks before him, he said. And despite his challenges, Higby’s sense of humor, wit, self-reliance and courage made him a joy to be around, he said.
Higby worked as a senior director of business development for North Hollywood-based SADA Systems, Inc., was a former radio talk show host and was vice president of the Universal City-North Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. in 2008.
He also relaunched the Universal City-North Hollywood Jaycees or Junior Chamber of Commerce in 1998 after a hiatus of almost 25 years, said Liza Standish, former administrative assistant for the Universal City-North Hollywood Chamber of Commerce and vice president of community outreach for the Jaycees, an organization civic for business and community leaders. between 18 and 40 years old.
“Michael was the funniest, cutest guy ever,” Standish said. “He had a way of taking a very funny situation and he would find the humor in it and flip it over and make everyone feel better for a little while anyway… He could have been a really good comic if he was.” had focused on it but his heart was not there. His heart was in politics and the Valley.