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WEST VALLEY CITY -- The mayor of West Valley City has apologized to a California man for using his photo without permission while the mayor freelanced a series of articles to promote his city under an alias.
Mayor Mike Winder said he apologized to Peter Burwash of Carmel Valley, Calif., during a phone conversation Saturday. Burwash, 63, is an author, motivational speaker, one-time professional tennis player and founder of the world's largest tennis management firm.
Winder wrote more than a dozen articles this year under the name Richard Burwash, an alias he found on the Internet and swiped from the real-life man from California, along with the photo. The only difference is Winder used a different first name.
Winder submitted Peter Burwash's photo for inclusion on a list of contributors for a freelance network that submits stories to news media partners, including the Deseret News and KSL.
He was really disappointed by what I did, as he should be. It wasn't right what I did.
–Mayor Mike Winder
"He was really disappointed by what I did as he should be. It wasn't right what I did," Winder told The Association Press. "But he's a good man and a gracious man, and I appreciate that he accepted my sincere apology."
Peter Burwash said while he considered the unauthorized use of his photo a form of identity theft, he accepted Winder's apology after he agreed to make a donation to three girls' schools in India that his daughters helped finance.
"His phone call was definitely sincere," Burwash said Sunday. "I told him, 'You put me through a lot and I hope you learn your lesson, and if you help out with the schools in India we'll call it square.'"
While neither Burwash nor Winder would divulge the amount of the donation, Burwash said it was enough to put three girls through school for a year in India.
Winder unapologetically revealed himself last week, saying he took the approach to writing upbeat articles about West Valley City under an alias because he thought the media spent too much time on crime coverage about his city.
He used the alias in his contacts with editors of the freelance network, Winder said, and submitted Peter Burwash's photo when the editors asked for a photo for their list of contributors.
I told him, 'You put me through a lot and I hope you learn your lesson.'
The mayor said he found the photo by conducting a Google Images search under the name "Burwash." Winder said he searched under that name because he had an ancestor from Burwash, England. Ironically, Peter Burwash also has an ancestor from the same English village.
"I said 'here's a good looking man' and pulled his photo off it," Winder said. "I feel horrible about it now.
"It started out as something Benjamin Franklin-esque to promote my city. Before you know it, things got out of hand. The best way to deal with it is to come clean, which I've done, as painful as it's been," he added.
Peter Burwash said he was shocked when he started getting calls from friends and the media about it.
"It's one thing if you're a 16-year-old student," he said. "But he's a high-profile person in a state known for a good set of ethics. When you deceive someone, it doesn't set well."
Executives at the Deseret News, which forbids pen names, also were not amused. While they appreciated that Winder eventually owned up the assumed name, they expressed concern that he misrepresented himself.
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