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Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Novel Solution: Bastard Politicians of Every Stripe Should Leak Confidential Memos to SF Weekly -- Which Has No Political Axes to Grind

Posted By on Thu, Aug 27, 2009 at 12:01 AM

click to enlarge leaky_faucet.jpg
It's odd to read a newspaper editorial arguing that there are some things in city government  that the people and the fourth estate ought not to know. And yet, despite many caveats claiming otherwise, that appears to be what this editorial from the Bay Guardian is asserting.

In short, the Guardian bemoans that Mayor Gavin Newsom has supposedly greased the skids of evil Republicans' lawsuit machines by leaking a confidential city attorney's memo regarding Supervisor David Campos' proposed sanctuary policy to the Chronicle. The editorial offers the necessary platitudes about opposing government secrecy and supporting noble whistleblowers. Yet it all boils down to this: Gavin Newsom is playing hardball to kill legislation the Guardian favors -- and therefore he is bad and so was this leak. Had the mayor leaked confidential documents that hamstrung legislation the Guardian opposed, the paper would not have penned this editorial.  

It seems that the Guardian is mixing two arguments: moral and

professional. Investigations are under way as to whether leaking this

confidential memo violated the law (and, as SF Weekly wrote earlier, we have our doubts as to how strenuous those investigations will be).

If the mayor and/or his staff broke the rules, they ought to be made to

answer for it.

On the other hand, you don't need an investigation to determine that

leaking a confidential memo such as this is a morally questionable

thing to do. But being a bastard is not a crime -- or even all that

unusual in city government. The Guardian and others are

certainly entitled to argue that leaking this memo was a nasty and

vindictive thing for Newsom to (allegedly) do. But it's a tough

sell to claim a journalist clutching a memo outlining key weaknesses of

a proposed vital city policy isn't in possession of Capital-N News that's

deeply relevant to the people of San Francisco.  

So we at SF Weekly have a novel suggestion to those who'd dispense with sensitive -- but vitally relevant -- documents. Send 'em to us! Unlike the Guardian, we do not demand every potential story pass a political litmus test or gather facts with the goal of pushing for a particular worldview. And unlike the Chronicle, we haven't taken money or awards from nativist groups about our controversial immigration stories. We have no overarching political axe to grind in this city.

We understand that you can be a bastard and still be a good -- or bad -- politician.

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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