Chris Reed is a Union-Tribune columnist whose career aspirations seem to be little more than being the buffoon that eagerly carries out the paper’s constant smears against Mike Aguirre.
In his latest blog entry, he does his best to bring more eyes to cartoonist Steve Breen’s best efforts to earn brownie points with his bosses.
The gist of this all is that city attorney Mike Aguirre suggested – in the midst of the wildfires heading rapidly toward San Diego with zero percent containment – that San Diego implement a city-wide evacuation plan. There has been some dispute and misunderstanding over whether or not Aguirre’s suggestion of “implementation” meant carrying out the planned evacuation or formally adopting an official plan.
In a bureaucratic environment, where things like plans and studies and whatnot have to be formally adopted, I read Aguirre’s suggestion of implementing a plan as “figuring out a definite plan and making sure that it is officially in place,” which is also how the San Diego Reader’s Don Bauder interpreted it:
In a memo of Oct. 22 that I will quote in full below, Aguirre recommended a voluntary evacuation PLAN. That is much different from a voluntary evacuation. He stressed the possibility of respiratory damage from smoke. He suggested officials contact nearby cities such as Yuma in the event that winds shifted and San Diegans would be in harm’s way. At the time of the memo, Highway 8 was open, and could have accommodated people leaving if lung damage became severe. He did not recommend a voluntary evacuation — just a PLAN for one. In the U-T’s story, the police chief, fire chief and mayor’s office falsely said Aguirre urged an exodus.
He goes on to reprint the memo in his entry. But folks like the Union-Tribune, the mayor and his staff, Aguirre’s other political enemies in San Diego government, and Voice of San Diego’s Scott Lewis all read it to mean “Aguirre says abandon the city now.”
Pat Flannery of Blog of San Diego had this:
I-15 was closed, I-5 was in imminent danger of being closed. There were fires on both sides of I-8. What if the high winds had continued through Tuesday? Even the military firefighting helicopters would not have been able to fly. And we were minutes away from losing SDG&E power. That was the situation on Monday morning.
In other words, the city was in danger of needing to be evacuated, and without an implemented plan, it would have been mass chaos. Mike Aguirre committed the apparently unforgivable sin of wanting to avoid mass chaos.
Well, in response to that memo, people have been using this as an opportunity to paint Aguirre as being some kind of emotionally unstable alarmist. I really, truly do not understand how someone could look at this situation and see this, but the same old people who want to pile on this guy and get him out of office are using everything at their disposal to do so.
Aguirre contacted Lewis again in an attempt to clarify his stance from the article linked above. Apparently Aguirre thought Lewis was talking about adopting an official plan, and Lewis thought Aguirre was talking about firing the starting pistol on the mass exodus. So in his follow-up, Lewis uses the opportunity to mock Aguirre, but does include this, which reinforces Aguirre’s assertion:
He said all he wanted was for the mayor and police and fire chief to design a plan to evacuate the entire city. He said the evacuations — and the shelters being set up — beginning Monday were occurring “willy-nilly.” He said he wanted the city to have a better plan and to set up shelters outside the city in El Centro, Yuma, Ariz. and other regional areas.
This all gets back to what it means to implement a plan.
But instead of talking about whether or not San Diego should have such a plan, how it should be structured, and other aspects that might accomplish silly things like saving people’s lives, the debate has successfully been recentered to whether or not Mike Aguirre is crazy and whether or not he’s telling lies and changing his story.
So anyway, I got away from my original point. Obviously, no politician or political figure should be above criticism. I mean, I make my living on the fact that I believe that. But seriously, it compromises the integrity of the whole world of political commentary and discourse when this is what it has come to – particularly when a paper brings their news department along with their editorial goals.
That is why I think it’s pretty darn pathetic that both Reed and Breen are using their platforms to point more fingers to encourage more people to laugh at Mike Aguirre for wanting to have a plan in place to evacuate the city in case 2.6 million people were going to be burned alive.