In a November entry, he wrote: "The politicians at the Union-Tribune (U-T) are at it again. Sunday's (November 5) newspaper published a news story on the City's ongoing pension trial that seeks to convince a court that unfunded pension benefits granted in 1996 and 2002 by the City Council to City employees was a corrupt deal that should be rescinded.
"The article, 'Pension trial pace expected to pick up,' offers a prime example of what biased reporting looks like, even though I was interviewed at length for the story by the reporter. In the story, the reporter conveys that attorneys for the unions have characterized 'Aguirre's legal interpretations suspect and his grasp of procedural matters weak.'
"On the contrary, after I completed my opening statement union attorney Joel Klevens asked the Judge for an immediate verdict contending that the City Attorney did not make his case. The Judge swiftly ruled against Attorney Klevens and told him that his motion was procedurally defective. Somehow, this exchange did not make it into the U-T's article."
Aguirre's responses delighted Reed, who threw back at him quotes from a series of exposés the U-T had commissioned from its reporters to portray alleged management turmoil under Aguirre's reign and his "rotten track record in pension-related cases" that "cost the city at least $2 million."
"Each of these stories was researched over a long period," blogged Reed about his own paper's coverage. "Each has stood up quite well against the predictable attacks from Aguirre and his allies. Only people with their heads in the sand could read these three articles and conclude Aguirre is the hero he thinks he is."
Then, in October Reed seemed to get to the real point. Mark Fabiani, a veteran of the Clinton White House who now works for Chargers owner and multimillion-dollar GOP donor Alex Spanos, came to meet with Reed and the U-T editorial board. "He took about an hour of questions; four or five dealt with his criticism of City Attorney Mike Aguirre."
As leader of the Spanos-family campaign to build a new football stadium for the Chargers, long lusted after by the U-T, Fabiani had repeatedly targeted Aguirre, claiming he would block any deal worked out with the City for taxpayer financing.
In his blog entry, Reed insisted that he was generally unsympathetic to public funding of football stadiums, then added, "But imagine if you, your family, your company -- whatever sympathetic unit you wish to employ in this thought example -- were attempting to close a complicated deal. The entity you were negotiating with had in its employ a high-ranking official who at any time believed he had the authority to single-handedly sue to block the deal, whatever the wishes of the great majority of other high-ranking officials.
"This is not an entity you would want to bargain with, because you couldn't trust it to ever keep its end of the bargain. There was always the chance the rogue employee -- who has repeatedly said he doesn't like you -- might sue you. This is what the Chargers are up against with Aguirre."
One of the most effective local campaign blogs of the year was also the most mysterious. Titled by its anonymous author "San Diego Politics Blog," it first posted February 21 with an entry about the movie Why We Fight, a liberal documentary critical of the war in Iraq, playing at the Ken theater. The same day the unknown blogger noted that MoveOn had begun raising money for Democrat Francine Busby's race in the special election for the 50th District Congressional seat vacated by Randy "Duke" Cunningham.
All spring, the blogger covered the race, breaking stories, including explosive news in March that Republican candidate Eric Roach's former business partner, San Francisco investor Thomas Frank White, was a sexual predator. The item featured a photo of White with what appeared to be two pubescent boys on his lap. A link to the San Francisco Chronicle website provided credibility and filled in the sordid details.
Roach was soon on the air with radio talk show host Roger Hedgecock, taking pains to explain that White was only an investor in his online brokerage business and denying any knowledge about the sexual charges against his former associate. But the damage had been done. Without mentioning San Diego Politics by name, the Union-Tribune alluded to the story, noting it "was circulating anonymously in the blogosphere."
The faceless blogger labored through the April 11 special election in which Busby was opposed by a pack of 17 other candidates. Some observers said they could detect a tilt favoring Busby; others surmised the blog was a well-camouflaged effort by the campaign of ex-GOP congressman Brian Bilbray to discredit Roach. Nobody claimed credit.
Busby's best chance of getting elected in the heavily Republican district came in April, but she failed to get the 50 percent plus one vote majority she needed in the open primary to win outright over the large field dividing the GOP vote. Instead, she was forced into a June runoff with Bilbray, who had narrowly beaten Roach for second place.
Then, with days to go before that election, in front of a largely Latino crowd, Busby uttered her now-famous remark, "You don't need papers for voting," seized upon by Republicans as encouragement by her of voting by illegal immigrants.
"Francine Busby appears to have managed to save defeat from the jaws of victory," reported San Diego Politics on June 5, the day before the election, which Bilbray won. "Busby and Bilbray had up until this point been pretty close in the polls. But this should tip the balance to Bilbray, who has run on the issue of 'stopping illegal immigration' since Day 1." Though the political season was only half over, it was the unnamed blogger's last entry.
Wall Street Mike
If Mike Aguirre's stock was down at the U-T, it was flying high at the Wall Street Journal, which featured him prominently in its September 27 lead editorial bashing councilmembers Toni Atkins, Jim Madaffer, Brian Maienschein, and council president Scott Peters for their roles in the city's pension-funding scandal.