San Diego City Council President Scott Peters didn't waste any time revealing the main theme of his campaign to oust City Attorney Mike Aguirre from office: Aguirre is a reckless man-child in need of “adult supervision.”
And Aguirre wasted no time perfectly illustrating Peters' point, engaging in yet another bizarre, ill-advised, childish confrontation with Union-Tribune reporter Alex Roth.
I wasn't there for the latest display on Monday, but a 7/39 news camera operator captured the 10-minute-long dust-up, which started while Aguirre was addressing a group of reporters and continued a few yards away but still in range of 7/39's microphone. Frankly, I didn't need to see it anyway; I've seen this farce before, on multiple occasions.
It goes like this: Roth, who's written stories critical of Aguirre's handling of the City Attorney's office, attempts to get Aguirre's comments on whatever angle Roth is working on; Aguirre makes a point of noting that he's not going to answer Roth's questions; Roth persists; Aguirre accuses Roth of being part of an evil-empire conspiracy against him; other assembled journalists shake their heads and chuckle at the absurdity of it all.
Aguirre at times belittles his adversary, and with Roth on Monday, the city attorney sharpened that unfortunate tool in his box, telling the reporter that he's a “young man” who obviously doesn't understand what's going on around him; accusing him of unethical behavior because Roth failed to disclose, in stories about Aguirre's nutty crusade against KPBS, that his wife used to be a KPBS reporter; and repeatedly advising him to seek “counseling.”
The irony of that last bit is lost on no one who closely watches City Hall and knows that it's Aguirre's name that's often used in the same sentence as “needs therapy.”
Aguirre needs to let the Alex Roth thing go. Ever since journalists were writing their stories on cave walls, their subjects have been complaining about their reporting. Aguirre needs to get over it. The U-T is not going to cave in and take Roth off the city attorney beat. Berating him in front of other reporters does nothing but make Aguirre look petty, paranoid and, yes, slightly unhinged.
Speaking of foolishness and the city attorney race, politics blogger Pat Flannery, who's well-known around City Hall and appears regularly at public meetings and press conferences, reports that he was physically escorted from a room last Friday at the Westgate Hotel, where District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis and Sheriff Bill Kolender were endorsing Republican candidate Jan Goldsmith.
Flannery says he was video-recording Dumanis' speech when a man he didn't recognize placed his hands on his shoulders and asked him what he was doing there. Flannery asked the man to identify himself, but he never got an answer and was hustled out the door.
Turns out it was John Hoy, Goldsmith's campaign manager. Hoy told CityBeat that he saw a guy (Flannery) holding a video camera who looked like he was “with” Don McGrath, Aguirre's executive assistant city attorney. Hoy admits that the sight “irritated” him, so, he says, he approached Flannery and asked him to identify himself. He says Flannery declined to say who he was, so Hoy showed him the way out the door. When he asked him again who he was, Flannery answered by asking Hoy the same question. Then Hoy just turned around, went back in the room and closed the door.
“Had he said, ‘I'm Pat Flannery, and I'm doing this for my blog,' I would have said, ‘OK, come on back in.' Frankly, I was just kind of irritated that the chief deputy city attorney was there with some guy filming it,” Hoy said. “Should I have let him stay? Well, sure. It was not a big deal.”
Hoy says the thing could have been avoided had Flannery just identified himself.
If I had been yukking it up with McGrath and Hoy irritatedly approached me the same way, I might have declined to state my name and rank, too. It's a city attorney campaign press conference, not freakin' national-security briefing. But I'm defiant like that, and so, apparently, is Flannery. As such, he missed out on the rest of what must have been the scintilating rhetorical stylings of Dumanis and Kolender as they regaled the assembled press with tales of Jan Goldsmith's virtue the way only they know how.
OK, this started as an angry commentary on the dangers of strong-armed goons making distinctions between bloggers and “real” journalists, and now I'm laughing.
Look, y'all just chill out. This is going to be a long, nasty campaign. What say we pace ourselves.
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