I’ve had a lot of negative stuff to say about the San Diego Union-Tribune, but one regular on my list of must-reads is their columnist Gerry Braun.
Braun wrote a column this week about the much-criticized evacuation memo that City Attorney Mike Aguirre sent to Mayor Jerry Sanders. I wrote about that last month, highlighting the efforts of U-T columnist Chris Reed and U-T cartoonist Steve Breen (not to mention the efforts of Voice of San Diego editor Scott Lewis) to use the opportunity to mock Aguirre for being guano crazy while ignoring any legitimate discussion about the need for evacuation plans.
Braun managed to do what Reed and the U-T failed to attempt ‚Äî actually sit down with Aguirre and try to figure out what he meant on something so substantial as recommending a city-wide evacuation plan.
So Monday I met Aguirre at a Hillcrest coffee shop and asked him what he was thinking when he volunteered the advice that now threatens his re-election.
‚ÄúI did not want to evacuate the city,‚Äù Aguirre said, ‚Äúbut the city has to have an evacuation plan, which it didn’t, under the federal grants we get from Homeland Security.‚Äù
Reed just pointed fingers and laughed. Lewis did interview Aguirre, demonstrating that it’s easier to mock someone after you can get them on the defensive and then cherry-pick comments from them.
Braun appears to be far from an Aguirre apologist; rather, he seems to be a columnist who takes no personal joy or credit when one politician succeeds and another stumbles. Where some commentators seem willing to stake a sloppy professional reputation on the ups and downs of their friends and nemeses, Braun’s approach seems simultaneously laid-back and detached yet intimate and involved.
It doesn’t hurt, obviously, that this piece makes Aguirre look like a sane human. I think I’ve made it very clear on this blog and in my cartoons that I think the guy gets a bad rap (at times); people have begun arguing against their straw-man parody of the man, which he has admittedly contributed greatly to, rather than discussing his ideas.
But check out Braun’s column. It’s a rare look at Mike Aguirre, the human being, particularly in the pages of the Union-Tribune.