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Staffer admits to shooting rubber bands at Mayor Pete Wilson

“...yearning to breathe free”

Proof that our former mayor, Pete Wilson, used to be a funny guy. This photo was taken on August 23, 1974, his 40th birthday celebration. In the bowl, a scoop of ice cream representing every year of his life. Note the high vanilla content.
Proof that our former mayor, Pete Wilson, used to be a funny guy. This photo was taken on August 23, 1974, his 40th birthday celebration. In the bowl, a scoop of ice cream representing every year of his life. Note the high vanilla content.

Mayor Pete Wilson targeted by staff

I just finished reading Tom Larson’s interesting and informative portrait of Pete Wilson (“The Pete Wilson legacy in thirty pieces”, Cover Story, May 9). Focusing on his time as mayor of San Diego, it’s fair to say he was one of the most consequential executives our city has ever elected. And the article started me reminiscing about my time in the mayor’s office and how, during my stint there, I managed to shoot him twice.

I better explain.

I was working as an administrator in one of the city departments when I got a call from a colleague who had recently been pulled in to join the staff of the mayor’s Crime Control Commission. In the 1970’s and early ‘80’s polls showed San Diegans’ number one concern was street crime. Pete Wilson shrewdly calculated that a study of the problem plus recommendations to cut criminal activity could only help him as he prepared to move up the political food chain.

My colleague knew I was a decent writer and convinced the director of the Crime Commission to bring me aboard as a staff analyst since the ultimate goal of the project was to produce a bound and illustrated report that would be published and made available to both city officials and the general public.

It was exciting to have an office on the mayor’s floor in the City Administration Building. The layout back then was pretty straightforward: The mayor, his chief of staff, and a few others worked behind elegant wood framed glass doors across the foyer. The rest of us — which meant his own personal appointees as well as those of us on the commission who were covered by civil service — had walled offices located in a much larger space in the other wing of the floor. I shared my sizable office with a wonderful guy I’ll call J.D. We were young, single, and got along famously. The only thing that worried J.D. was my quirkiness. I thought of my jobs with the city as a short-term adventure. He was intent on building a career.

Our desks were situated such that the large glass windows of the City Administration Building were at our backs and we faced the door. And since our office door was always open, we had an unobstructed view of anyone walking by. One such person was Mayor Pete Wilson. When he was due in city council chambers, he didn’t use the bank of public elevators. Instead, there was/still is a private access way which took him right past our office door. And as I almost always knew when he was due in chambers, I began to formulate a plot.

My top desk drawer was a repository for the tools of my trade: pencils, pens, paper clips, erasers, white-out and the like. To these, I began adding an arsenal of thick, industrial strength rubber bands. The challenge, as I saw it, would be to turn the space beyond our door into a sort of narrow shooting gallery with the mayor as my quarry. This was easier said than done. I’d have him in sight for only a second or two, and back then Wilson, in nimble middle-age, moved like a gazelle on the Serengeti. Over the next few weeks, J.D. watched in horror as I aimed, shot and repeatedly missed.

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And then, finally, success. The first hit was a bouncer off the folio he carried in his right hand. A couple of days later, it was a clean strike on the crease of his pants. To the relief of my office mate, Wilson never knew what hit him, and with mission accomplished and nothing left to prove, I redirected my stockpile of rubber bands to less exciting and more mundane purposes.

Mark I Linsky

Pacific Beach


To breathe free

(“The Pete Wilson legacy in thirty pieces”, Cover Story, May 9) Regarding Piece #30: The actual quote is “...yearning to breathe free”, not “...yearning to be free.” I offer this correction due to my chronic yet proud anality.

Philippe Navidad

North Park

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Proof that our former mayor, Pete Wilson, used to be a funny guy. This photo was taken on August 23, 1974, his 40th birthday celebration. In the bowl, a scoop of ice cream representing every year of his life. Note the high vanilla content.
Proof that our former mayor, Pete Wilson, used to be a funny guy. This photo was taken on August 23, 1974, his 40th birthday celebration. In the bowl, a scoop of ice cream representing every year of his life. Note the high vanilla content.

Mayor Pete Wilson targeted by staff

I just finished reading Tom Larson’s interesting and informative portrait of Pete Wilson (“The Pete Wilson legacy in thirty pieces”, Cover Story, May 9). Focusing on his time as mayor of San Diego, it’s fair to say he was one of the most consequential executives our city has ever elected. And the article started me reminiscing about my time in the mayor’s office and how, during my stint there, I managed to shoot him twice.

I better explain.

I was working as an administrator in one of the city departments when I got a call from a colleague who had recently been pulled in to join the staff of the mayor’s Crime Control Commission. In the 1970’s and early ‘80’s polls showed San Diegans’ number one concern was street crime. Pete Wilson shrewdly calculated that a study of the problem plus recommendations to cut criminal activity could only help him as he prepared to move up the political food chain.

My colleague knew I was a decent writer and convinced the director of the Crime Commission to bring me aboard as a staff analyst since the ultimate goal of the project was to produce a bound and illustrated report that would be published and made available to both city officials and the general public.

It was exciting to have an office on the mayor’s floor in the City Administration Building. The layout back then was pretty straightforward: The mayor, his chief of staff, and a few others worked behind elegant wood framed glass doors across the foyer. The rest of us — which meant his own personal appointees as well as those of us on the commission who were covered by civil service — had walled offices located in a much larger space in the other wing of the floor. I shared my sizable office with a wonderful guy I’ll call J.D. We were young, single, and got along famously. The only thing that worried J.D. was my quirkiness. I thought of my jobs with the city as a short-term adventure. He was intent on building a career.

Our desks were situated such that the large glass windows of the City Administration Building were at our backs and we faced the door. And since our office door was always open, we had an unobstructed view of anyone walking by. One such person was Mayor Pete Wilson. When he was due in city council chambers, he didn’t use the bank of public elevators. Instead, there was/still is a private access way which took him right past our office door. And as I almost always knew when he was due in chambers, I began to formulate a plot.

My top desk drawer was a repository for the tools of my trade: pencils, pens, paper clips, erasers, white-out and the like. To these, I began adding an arsenal of thick, industrial strength rubber bands. The challenge, as I saw it, would be to turn the space beyond our door into a sort of narrow shooting gallery with the mayor as my quarry. This was easier said than done. I’d have him in sight for only a second or two, and back then Wilson, in nimble middle-age, moved like a gazelle on the Serengeti. Over the next few weeks, J.D. watched in horror as I aimed, shot and repeatedly missed.

Sponsored
Sponsored

And then, finally, success. The first hit was a bouncer off the folio he carried in his right hand. A couple of days later, it was a clean strike on the crease of his pants. To the relief of my office mate, Wilson never knew what hit him, and with mission accomplished and nothing left to prove, I redirected my stockpile of rubber bands to less exciting and more mundane purposes.

Mark I Linsky

Pacific Beach


To breathe free

(“The Pete Wilson legacy in thirty pieces”, Cover Story, May 9) Regarding Piece #30: The actual quote is “...yearning to breathe free”, not “...yearning to be free.” I offer this correction due to my chronic yet proud anality.

Philippe Navidad

North Park

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