HillcrestBlog by "San Diego News Service" (619) 757-4909

"San Diego News Service" covers hard news, features and reviews for local and national print media, and maintains, "HillcrestBlog." Address: 3907 Georgia St., #15, San Diego 92103-3548. Our editor is Leo E. Laurence, J.D., Copy Ed.: Martin Brickson. Member: Society of Professional Journalists, Latino Journalists of California. Call news tips to (619) 757-4909 (days), Nights: (619) 220-8686 (fax also). leopowerhere@msn.com Copyright 2008 by San Diego News Service

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


City Heights -- Annual meetings of some business associations can be so boring for a journalist to cover.

But, the City Heights Business Association (CHBA) meeting Oct. 8th turned dramatic when a spokesman for the mayor campaigned against City Attorney Mike Aguirre while on duty. The mayor supports Aguirre's opponent.

Ronald E. Lacey, a Community Outreach official in the mayor's office, gave a routine report on city business and finances.

"The City has a $50 to $65 million deficit, and by the end of the month, we won't have the money to pay our bills," Lacey said in his official report.

He talked about the serious drought, and the mayor's hope to avoid mandatory conservation with the accompanying citations and fines for offenders.

Lacey pushed the mayor's Oct. 21st Water Town Meeting.

But, when the issue of 20 bus shelters for City Heights was raised by the CHBA president, Joe Sciarretta, Lacey turned to campaigning for his boss and against Aguirre.

Lacey said the long delay over the shelters was caused by City Attorney Michael Aguirre's office. He frankly admitted that the mayor had endorsed Aguirre's opponent in the political campaign.

Lacey had a long exchange with CHBA president Sciarretta, who openly laughed about Aguirre's office, clearly suggesting opposition consistent with Lacey's pitch.

Even CHBA executive director Enrique Gandarilla got into the discussion, saying he had talked with Aguirre months ago, and was promised the problem would be resolved within two weeks.

"(The city Attorney's office) just does whatever it wants to do. Of course, my boss has endorsed (Aguirre's) opponent," Lacey added, again.

"(Aguirre) is getting more reckless as his retention chances (for re-election) are diminishing," Lacey added, a direct political statement on the campaign for City Attorney.

The political insults and laughter fired at Aguirre were bouncing off the wall at the CHBA's annual meeting. Lacey led the laughter whenever someone in the room criticized Aguirre.

Neither the CHBA president, nor its executive director nor Lacey said anything about the alleged impropriety of an official from the mayor's office campaigning during the CHBA's annual meeting.

Juan Pablo Sanchez, owner of the Super Cocina restaurant on University Avenue near 36th St., who was not at the meeting, said that the politicking was odd for a CHBA board meeting.

"Our meetings are usually very apolitical," Sanchez said in an interview. With 6-years on the board, Sanchez is the longest-serving director. He is one of the younger members, but will be termed out of office unless the CHBA ByLaws are changed to allow him to run again. Inside sources say that is possible.

Lacey did not know there was a reporter in the room when he began discussing the City Attorney's campaign. Later, after discovering the press in the room, he got very, very nervous.

"What are you going to write about me," he asked. The question was not answered.

San Diego News Service has a request for comment pending before the City Attorney's office. So far, there has been no response from either Aguirre, his office or his campaign.


Copyright, 2008, by journalist Leo E. Laurence, leopowerhere@msn.com (619) 757-4909


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