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A battle in the gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender media ended tragically last night when Michael Portantino, owner of the now-defunct Gay and Lesbian Times, committed suicide by jumping off the Park Manor Suites. His death was confirmed to me by someone very close to him. Portantino was under investigation by the district attorney, who was supposedly looking into the possible bloating of circulation figures, among other things. I have from an excellent source that Portantino had been told through his lawyer that the D.A. would be indicting him. I put into a call to the D.A.'s office, and as this is written, have not heard back. I will report the office's response if I get one.

On May 11, San Diego News Network, which is also now defunct, printed a hit piece on Portantino and his company. That was followed by another, charging that Portantino was in financial trouble and bloating circulation figures. The first story was printed in conjunction with Gay & Lesbian News, a gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender publication that competed with Portantino's Gay & Lesbian Times. Gay & Lesbian News was a "media partner" of San Diego News Network at the time. Shortly, D.A. investigators began interviewing Portantino's employees at their homes, and also, allegedly, talked with the publication's advertisers. The stories had financial details of Portantino's operations. His bank said it would never have given out such information to the media, and it would have had to be subpoenaed by government investigators -- a long process. Portantino sued one of his ex-employees for allegedly giving out the financial information. The suit charged breach of confidential agreement and invasion of privacy.

In August, the Franchise Tax Board suspended the rights and privileges of the parent of Gay & Lesbian Times. Portantino claimed that he had straightened out the matter and had an arrangement with the Internal Revenue Service to pay back taxes. Eventually, the publication stopped coming out and Portantino was hospitalized.

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Comments

Don Bauder Dec. 9, 2010 @ 3:12 p.m.

NOTE: The district attorney's office says that there are no criminal charges pending against Portantino and no record of anybody in the D.A.'s office informing Portantino's lawyer that he would be indicted. Best, Don Bauder

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brentmekshes Dec. 9, 2010 @ 3:15 p.m.

I'm very disappointed in the tone you took in writing this story. My opinion is that Michael, his family, his friends, his former staff and the community have suffered enough. A legitimate Journalist would not report "gossip".

I just received a phone call from the lead investigator at the DA's office, who offered condolences and it was sincere. As you are aware they do not comment on pending cases and your reporting is false and inaccurate regarding an indictment.

I don't think now is the time, nor the place to comment on the bad. I hope people focus on the good in Michael. I only wish the best for his family and beautiful child. The glbt community is very close and sensitive; I suspect the insensitivity in your column could lead to a community boycott of your publication, of which I would consider supporting.

Despite everything Michael had a lot of good in him and please let his legacy end in a positive manner vs. continuing to sling mud in the gay community.

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Don Bauder Dec. 9, 2010 @ 3:28 p.m.

If you will look at my item, I said I had from an excellent source that Michael's lawyer told him that the D.A.'s office had said that he would be indicted. I said I would report from the D.A.'s office when I heard something. I just posted that report: the office says it has no criminal charges pending and there is no record that anybody told Portantino's lawyer that an indictment was coming.

I disagree about the tone of the article. I think it was balanced. I think my coverage of this matter has been balanced all along. If anything, my first piece, a long column, favored Portantino in many respects, largely because I thought that the now-defunct San Diego News Network had breached journalistic ethics by printing financial information that it had no right to publish, and should have been quite skeptical of the source. Throughout my coverage of this situation, both Portantino and his enemies complained about my coverage. Best, Don Bauder

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ericdarsey Dec. 9, 2010 @ 3:49 p.m.

I agree with Brent. Time and time again I see you publish stories referencing "reliable source" without actually providing the source. You lack any journalistic integrity and this piece was nothing more than a inflammatory and opportunistic attempt to sensationalize a horrific event.

Don Bauder is a hack.

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Don Bauder Dec. 9, 2010 @ 5:49 p.m.

I disagree with what you say, sir, but I shall fight to the death for your right to say it. Some Frenchman said it, as I recall. Best, Don Bauder

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a2zresource Dec. 10, 2010 @ 10:17 a.m.

Generally, I have found that the more people who write negative comments after a SCAM DIEGO post, the closer to the truth that writing may have been...

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Don Bauder Dec. 10, 2010 @ 3:14 p.m.

Verisimilitude breeds pejoratives, apparently. Best, Don Bauder

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howstheservice Dec. 9, 2010 @ 3:53 p.m.

I tend to agree with the criticism, the man is dead, did we really need to know the negative details of his life? Whatever 'crimes' anyone alleges, the charges died along with him. Speculation, gossip or reporting of possible investigation is really pointless unless you are dealing in gossip. Yes, your previous coverage did seem to be pretty balanced, but in reporting his suicide, was it really necessary to mention possible negative things?

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Don Bauder Dec. 9, 2010 @ 5:52 p.m.

Yes, I think it was. This coverage added nothing new. I had reported this before. It just put the tragedy into context. Best, Don Bauder

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howstheservice Dec. 10, 2010 @ 8:11 a.m.

I'm not really sure it does put it into contest. It paints only a very small part of the picture. Maybe he had been dealing with clinical depression for some time and because of this that is why the paper failed. Because he wasn't able to focus his total energy and considerable business acumen on the issues facing his business, the paper suffered. I know that print media is dying, but there are bright spots out there and I believe that if Mike had been able to clearly focus his energy on the problems at hand, he might have been able to be one of those bright spots, instead he sank further and further into depression and the paper slipped away. No doubt it's closing was a traumatic blow for him, and he was tortured by the thoughts of his 'failure' which only added to his illness. His passing was a tragedy for his family and loved ones, but you don't seem to care about the human toll this has taken. I know you write about business news, but how about trying to remember that there are real people involved and carelessly throwing around baseless claims can be pretty hurtful. It might be nice if you actually re-wrote the article to include your note that there really weren't any investigations going on in the DA's office, instead of leaving it as a foot note, since the article is already being incorrectly quoted in other articles.

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Don Bauder Dec. 10, 2010 @ 3:18 p.m.

The DA was investigating Portantino. I even interviewed some of the people who had fed information to the DA. I still strongly suspect that the DA's office had told Portantino's lawyer that an indictment was coming, despite the hedged statement from the DA's office, printed above. Is the DA telling you some whopper, or did you misinterpret what the DA's office said? Best, Don Bauder

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HellcatCopley Dec. 9, 2010 @ 4:13 p.m.

The UT is reporting on this too. Odd that the paper ignored the man, his community and his paper in life.

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Don Bauder Dec. 9, 2010 @ 5:53 p.m.

I haven't seen UT coverage, so I can't comment. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Dec. 9, 2010 @ 5:57 p.m.

From the beginning (not including Portantino's death) reporting on this story has been a lose-lose proposition. Nobody was satisfied. But it was an important story to tell. I guess that's why I'm a journalist (hack in some minds) and not a politician. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 Dec. 9, 2010 @ 4:27 p.m.

I don't think this is a hit piece. But that is not what I want to comment on.

It is very sad news, as I had met him before back in the early/mid 90's, just through business. He was very straight forward with me- and easy to deal with. I was working on a real estate deal that never happened but he made a good impression on me.

I feel very badly, and not just him, but also his family. No matter how bad things are, or were going to get, everyone needs to know you can get through it-especially with strong family and friend support. That it got to this point shows a break down.

RIP.

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Don Bauder Dec. 9, 2010 @ 6 p.m.

He helped me with a story back in the early 1990s when I was with the U-T. I think I met him once face-to-face, but I'm not sure. I did not have problems with him. He didn't like what I wrote about his finance and tax problems, but, then, nobody with such woes does. Best, Don Bauder

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HellcatCopley Dec. 9, 2010 @ 5:37 p.m.

"Ex-Gay Community Publisher Portantino Takes Own Life"

"Ex-Gay?" You mean he stopped being gay? Or is it "Ex-publisher?"

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Don Bauder Dec. 9, 2010 @ 6:02 p.m.

I wrestled with that head, and changed it once. At the time of his death, he was an ex-gay community publisher. His former publication had gone out of business. The head is correct. Best, Don Bauder

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VickiGarcia Dec. 9, 2010 @ 6:12 p.m.

I am just so very sad to hear about Michael's death and to learn of the anguish he must have been suffering to drive him to this. Many people thought Michael was a tough guy, but he was always kind and thoughtful to me.

Isn't it about time we stop concerning ourselves whether people are gay/straight/whatever? Michael had many, many friends in the gay and straight communities who will be shocked and sad to hear this. He accomplished much in his life and I'm brokenhearted that he was in so much pain.

Blessings on you Michael, wherever you are.

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Don Bauder Dec. 9, 2010 @ 9:46 p.m.

I think much of his anguish resulted from the DA's investigation. I have always questioned that investigation. There is so much corruption in San Diego; why chase someone for allegedly bloating circulation figures? All the media are hurting financially. Was this investigation politically motivated? Some of the people slashing at me on this blog were members of the group giving information to the DA. That makes me very suspicious. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 Dec. 9, 2010 @ 10:37 p.m.

I think much of his anguish resulted from the DA's investigation. I have always questioned that investigation.

You mean why go after the weak, the innocent, those least able to fight back???

Because that is what government does. They are the school yard bully. They never go after those who can fight back, or those that are connected-only those who can't.

Without going into the merits of whether the GLT inflated their sales/circulation figures, in the totality of the situation you have to agree that it doesn't amount to jack, while serious felons like Matthew "Beau" La Madrid and his brother in crime Lance La Madrid skate on bye with free passes, or KFC Sanders sugar daddy Aaron Feldman and Sunroad screw over the public with impunity.

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Don Bauder Dec. 10, 2010 @ 3:22 p.m.

One of the major themes of my writing is that government regulators and prosecutors go after the defenseless and leave the Madoffs alone. Best, Don Bauder

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HellcatCopley Dec. 9, 2010 @ 6:30 p.m.

"Ex-Gay" is an insulting term in the community. Please report immediately to the Reader's Sensitivity Training and Reeducation course.

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Don Bauder Dec. 9, 2010 @ 9:48 p.m.

I have heard from others in private emails that you are right. Would "former gay publisher" have been acceptable? Best, Don Bauder

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fireinthehole Dec. 9, 2010 @ 7:56 p.m.

Bauder you are a slime. I can't believe you would write such a piece of trash. You live in Colorado then write about San Diego. Disgusting. You are a piece of trash.

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SurfPuppy619 Dec. 9, 2010 @ 10:29 p.m.

Don, thick skin is a necessity for your blog.

I don't think you have slimed anyone, not even unintentionally.

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Don Bauder Dec. 9, 2010 @ 9:59 p.m.

PRAISE FOR PORTANTINO POURS IN: Here are some statements being made about the death of Michael Portantino: Sen. Christine Kehoe say, "Michael's death is a terrible loss for his family and for the community." Assemblymember Toni Atkins: "Michael and I had occasion to agree and to disagree. I never doubted his passion, sincerity or commitment." The Portantino family: "Michael Portantino was a fighter his entire life. He provided tireless and unmatched support for the Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender community and advocated for respect and dignity for all Californians." Best, Don Bauder

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paul Dec. 9, 2010 @ 11:21 p.m.

Praise from Atkins and Kehoe, but not so much from Dumanis and DeMaio?

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Don Bauder Dec. 10, 2010 @ 7:06 a.m.

I didn't see anything from Dumanis and DeMaio, but that doesn't mean that they didn't issue some kind of statement. Best, Don Bauder

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paul Dec. 10, 2010 @ 6:52 a.m.

Don,

At first I thought this was a joke, but it appears you have actually been spammed by a pretend college!

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Don Bauder Dec. 10, 2010 @ 7:21 a.m.

I've gotta look up United Forensic College. Does it have a football team? Is it playing in a bowl game? Best, Don Bauder

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paul Dec. 10, 2010 @ 10:43 a.m.

I think they are playing Bridgepoint in the Toilet Bowl.

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SurfPuppy619 Dec. 10, 2010 @ 11:16 a.m.

I think they are playing Bridgepoint in the Toilet Bowl

LOL...is that one on pay per view?

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Don Bauder Dec. 10, 2010 @ 3:11 p.m.

It will be on paperview, not pay per view. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Dec. 10, 2010 @ 3:09 p.m.

Will the game be on TV? Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Dec. 10, 2010 @ 7:19 a.m.

I get spammed all the time, but not on this blog. Maybe we need a better filter. Best, Don Bauder

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Ponzi Dec. 10, 2010 @ 5:34 a.m.

I have no issue with gay people. Except, on one the reasons they are accused of having an “agenda” is because they are so biased when it comes to about them that do not portray them in a light they disapprove of.

Take the comments in her for example. I have followed these blogs for years and all of the sudden a hole new cast a of posters, who I have never seen before, are in here attacking Mr.Bauder. As long as you whine like a bunch of pouting babies, you’re always going to be treated like one. It’s fairly obvious the whole gayborhood came in here to post negative replies to Mr. Bauders stories, of which people - who have critical thinking skills, find informative, not inappropriate.

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Don Bauder Dec. 10, 2010 @ 7:31 a.m.

I've been doing investigative financial journalism for 46 years now, and this is a regular problem. For example, if I do a column on an affinity scam -- say, a Korean fleecing Koreans, a Mexican-American fleecing Mexican-Americans -- there almost inevitably arises hostility within the group aimed at me, in the form of charges that I am attacking Koreans or Mexican-Americans. Part of the reason is that in the early stages of a scam, and even in later stages for many, the victims are going through deep denial. So they kill the messenger. It's just something an investigative journalist has to live with. Best, Don Bauder

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noparker Dec. 10, 2010 @ 9:07 a.m.

Don: Perhaps you could respond directly to what is probably one of the best suggestions in the comments section here so far, from howstheservice:

"It might be nice if you actually re-wrote the article to include your note that there really weren't any investigations going on in the DA's office, instead of leaving it as a foot note, since the article is already being incorrectly quoted in other articles."

Best, Noparker

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Don Bauder Dec. 10, 2010 @ 10:18 a.m.

You must be kidding. The DA was investigating. I have written about that in several items. I have interviewed people who admitted passing information to the DA. Of course there was an investigation. I am hoping that there will be an investigation of the DA's investigation -- specifically, whether it was politically motivated, and whether the sources of information were objective. Best, Don Bauder

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Copleys_Taint Dec. 10, 2010 @ 4:30 p.m.

Talk about killing the messenger! You folks make is sound like Don climbed on the roof and pushed the guy off. I wrote for the GLT for two years and never met Portantino. Every time I tried he'd have a gatekeeper block my path because the only reason I had for wanting to see him was to ask where my money was. No wonder his empire was in ruins. The guy didn't pay his employees, or it that unkind of me to bring up now that he's dead? Karma, ain't it a bitch!

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Don Bauder Dec. 10, 2010 @ 10:48 p.m.

For the most part, those who are calling me such names as hack and slime are the same ones who fed information to the DA. Some were affiliated with a competing publication. Best, Don Bauder

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nan shartel Dec. 11, 2010 @ 2:11 p.m.

Don...i recently got a$$wipe entered into the Urban Dictionary...feel free to use it liberally from now on since it is a word now...a smelly chocolate colored noun

and ur starting to hit them where they live Poohster...and they're yelping and spewing out anonymous vitriolic venom back atcha

sending u a Mopp suit for Christmas

Happy Holidays if i'm not around ;-D

it will also solve that "taint" prob CC...hahahahahahahahaha...;-D !!

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Russ Lewis Dec. 11, 2010 @ 2:26 p.m.

I was using "asswipe" in junior high and they're just now entering it in the Urban Dictionary?

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Don Bauder Dec. 11, 2010 @ 9:06 p.m.

The rest of us were USING it in our infancies. How come you waited to junior high to use it? Oh, you must mean use it as a noun. I didn't catch that. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 Dec. 11, 2010 @ 4:56 p.m.

Oh Nan. do have a short story to tell you!!!! Close to the word asswipe. But who I leveled it at is the funny part.

I cannot post it here though , I will PM it to you!!

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Don Bauder Dec. 11, 2010 @ 9:08 p.m.

I hope you didn't use it in court, in reference to the judge. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 Dec. 12, 2010 @ 12:31 a.m.

I hope you didn't use it in court, in reference to the judge.

LOL...you know it! A panel of three judges actually, and I meant every word!

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Don Bauder Dec. 11, 2010 @ 9:04 p.m.

Hey, Nan, I'm accustomed to having venom thrown at me. It adds excitement to the blog. Best, Don Bauder

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nan shartel Dec. 11, 2010 @ 5:09 p.m.

russl said

I was using "asswipe" in junior high and they're just now entering it in the Urban Dictionary?

i got it from my 50 year old son who used it in his 30's...i was surprised 2 russl....

i can't believe all these peeps r so disgruntled about a phrase that could be a simply explained by the rule that "i forgot that the "i" comes before "e" except after "c"

i constantly misspell "view" and thank my spellchecker that i'm not found out!!!

get a life people!!!

and use prerogative properly in a sentence before u darken these doors again ;-D

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Don Bauder Dec. 11, 2010 @ 9:09 p.m.

View as in deja view? Best, Don Bauder

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nan shartel Dec. 12, 2010 @ 2:06 p.m.

DB said: Hey, Nan, I'm accustomed to having venom thrown at me. It adds excitement to the blog. Best, Don Bauder

and:View as in deja view?

after that last review Bauder...DUCK!!!!!!!...as in Deja Duck ;-D

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Don Bauder Dec. 12, 2010 @ 5:16 p.m.

My full name is Donald Duck Bauder. Best, Don Bauder

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concernedcitizen77 Dec. 22, 2010 @ 10:55 p.m.

DA's Office, if they were conducting a "politically motivated investigation" and/or harassing Portantino, could be culpable for his death.

Family and survivors should sue the DA's office. Best way to find out if this guy was being sandbagged and run out of business because he ticked off a few powerful people in town.

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SurfPuppy619 Jan. 2, 2011 @ 3:32 p.m.

Family and survivors should sue the DA's office. Best way to find out if this guy was being sandbagged and run out of business because he ticked off a few powerful people in town.

========================== I have news for you, the DA, DDA's and judges are 100% immune from prosecution in the courts for bad acts. Even if they committ felonies they still have almost complete immunity.

You could try to sue-in federal court-and it would go nowhere fast, and your chances of winning would be about 100-1, if that.

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jdowney Jan. 1, 2011 @ 7:43 p.m.

Don, I've read more than half of these posts before I began to wonder a few things. Ok, first, you did lay it on a little harsh in your report. I've read some reports from other online publications as well and some of them were a little harsh too. However your lesson here should be two things. #1, even though others were stating some of the same comments, did you really need to do the same? You couldn't just turn the cheek and leave out all the negativity? Afterall a death had happened here. #2 if you have an ounce of humanity in you, do you feel just a little like Michael felt in his last moments, the torment, the torture of people plugging at you because you said something wrong? You don't know the feelings of someone on edge in this situation, nor could you begin to feel what Michael was feeling at that moment! I did know Michael and no matter what he may have done to get the DA involved, that was not for you to state in this ad. I knew him in the early to mid 90's and when I was going through a rough time in my life. I actually worked for him for a very short period. My employment was in exchange of advertising so he could help me out with my own situation. At one point he even extended me a cash loan, not a lot, just to get me through rough times. When I went to repay him, he said keep it! I also knew the not so kind side of him, but we all have two sides when provoked. Your other side here would be to admit you could have done this report better ... kinder. Sometimes being a good reporter is leaving out some of the details for the moment that did not need to be mentioned. You even admitted full well that you had not personally spoken to the DA, you could have saved yourself some time and grief by leaving that out. Maybe reported that in another report, another time. Just my opinion but these should have benn your two lessons of now 79 comments. Oh and also, I read up to the point of the "Ex-Gay" portion and though I do realize what the heading was meant, better wording should have been in place. Have you read the article about "Praying away your gayness"? The LGBT community is always under attack and from all angles, choose better words next time! Maybe it should have been ... "Former Publisher and Staple Figure of the LGBT community .... we know the rest".

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