For one of the more dramatic images floating around in the current flurry of political literature, look no farther than a flier by Assembly candidate Tony Cardenas in which he proclaims his opposition to a new oil pipeline in the northeastern San Fernando Valley.
The mailer's cover features a vivid photograph of a pipeline explosion in the Northridge earthquake. "The Roar of the Earth . . . A Devastating Explosion," reads the cover, and inside: "That's how oil pipeline explosions happen. Sometimes they happen in our own backyard."
The problem is, the pipeline pictured was not an oil pipeline at all but a natural-gas main. And the explosion did not occur within the 39th Assembly District, where Cardenas is running for the Democratic nomination, but a few miles outside it.
The photo appeared in The Times on Jan. 18, 1994, below a caption that reads: "Flames flare up from ruptured gas main and homes that it ignited on Balboa Boulevard in Granada Hills."
Cardenas' political consultant, Leo Briones, who crafted the mailer, acknowledged that the photo did not portray the quake-triggered rupture of the Arco pipeline beneath the northeast Valley, as the flier seems to imply.
"I will admit that I should have put, 'That's how pipeline explosions happen,' " without the word oil as it now stands, Briones said. But "that's a minor issue. The major issue is that pipeline explosions happen in earthquake country."
The flier highlights Cardenas' opposition to a new oil pipeline in the 39th District and contends that his major rivals in the election, Valerie Salkin and Jim Dantona, favor it.