The email concluded with a threat to withhold information from Vigil in the future. “I also understand that my comment to you was not off the record but I never intended for it to appear in print. While I am obviously not happy that it appeared in print for the reasons that I detail above, I hope that you will understand when I simply tell you that he is unavailable in the future — and not give you any further details.”
Vigil responded: “In truth, this sounds like the opinions of a politico who’s very protective of his man. So protective that he forgets it doesn’t hurt to let people know that the mayor is a living breathing normal human being who does normal everyday things. I am a reporter who likes those details, things that are not cut from the same bland cloth that is oh-so-safe for politicians. I’m sorry if you’re offended.”
For reporters who played ball, Sainz was accommodating. On September 27, he was forwarded an email from Joanne Faryon, a reporter who has covered the mayor for KPBS radio, the public broadcasting operation owned and operated by San Diego State University.
“I have the oddest of requests,” wrote Faryon. “Mike Marcotte, KPBS news director of 12 years, is leaving the station Nov 7. He’s moving to Santa Barbara with his fiancée. I am making a parody documentary for his going away party.
“I am shooting the video on a home camera and then editing into a final product. I am asking people, where were you when you heard Mike Marcotte was leaving KPBS. In fact, I have a few reporter friends in Toronto and Washington D.C. who are shooting fake news clips.
“I was also in New York recently and got video of the reader board in Times Square, which read… ‘This just in…Mike Marcotte leaving KPBS.’
“So here’s my request. Do you think the mayor would do a fake 30 second statement about the loss of Mike Marcotte…how sad he is, etc.
“It will only take a few minutes, I can do it anytime he is available in the next week.”
Sainz emailed his assistant Eileen Brennan with the response: “Let’s do this.”
Sainz was also not above trying to tag along after bigger political stars in order to get his boss at least a small bit of national exposure, but he had little luck. On November 7 of last year, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger arrived in town to hold a news conference at SeaWorld, pointing out that the area’s tourist destinations had been unscathed by the recent fires.
The previous day Sainz got an email from Stacey Sanner, a public relations woman from the big firm of Edelman, employed to promote tourism here. It highlighted the problems of hyping the little-known Sanders on national news shows.
“Good Morning America — booker asked if Governor Schwarzenegger was available, also noted that they were pretty booked tomorrow but asked for details via e-mail for further consideration. Essentially they would consider it more strongly if the Mayor would do the interview with the Governor. Please let us know if that is a possibility.”
“Fox Business Channel — passed on the opportunity after reviewing programming for the day; market is too volatile and they don’t have the time.”
“MSNBC — Passed due to so much breaking news today. Note: the news networks are covering a few breaking news items today — an escaped prisoner in Florida who shot an officer while he was being transported, schools are in lockdown and there is an intense manhunt underway. Also, situation in Pakistan is getting tenser — judges being arrested, citizens protesting, etc.”