Mayoral spokesman Tony Winnicker has quit his job after working for the last year as former mayor Gavin Newsom's mouthpiece and then Mayor Ed Lee. Will we miss him? Not really, and here is why: He never calls us back!
The fact that Winnicker has frozen out SF Weekly doesn't hurt as much as it makes our job a pain in the ass. It's not easy to know what the mayor is thinking or feeling when Winnicker refuses to do exactly what he is paid $154,322.73 to do -- talk to the press.
But is it really Winnicker being hypersensitive about something we said or wrote or is it just par for the course with Newsom flacks who have a track record of evolving into irascible grumps who blackball certain reporters.
Peter Ragone, for instance was a nice guy but loyal to a fault. He self-destructed and had a mini meltdown in front of KGO's Dan Noyes after SFist uncovered that he was writing blogs using a fake name to defend his boss in 2007. Then there was Nate Ballard who would seemingly pride himself on being at odds with reporters.
"I think [Newsom's] attitude and relationship with the press was well documented by many news stations and it translated to his spokesman" said Jim Ross, a local political consultant. "In a lot of ways they are like surrogates."
But like them or not, they did their job well, Ross said. Newsom was one of the most successful mayors at garnering media attention -- and it wasn't just because of his hair. The Newsom administration managed to plant stories that put him in a favorable light as well as handle the media in his lowest moments when he was bombarded by the "hostile" press, Ross said.
Even if reporters thought Newsom was temperamental and notoriously thin-skinned, he still talked to most members of the press, Ross said. And for those who were cut off from speaking to the mayor's office, well that's the game. Press secretaries have to make examples out of some members of the media, or else they will run right over the mayor, Ross said.
So perhaps we were the chosen ones. If that's the case, we'd have to think that Winnicker would be happy to say goodbye to us. Yet we were not invited to his going away party at Medjool Restaurant.
Oh well, at least Winnicker is still Facebook friends with this author. That counts for something, right?