Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Electronigate, Day One: Wrap-Up

The LED billboard dustup today became a comprehensive (I won't say full throttle, expecting additional revelations soon) scandal, in surround sound, when the Tribune-Review revealed that two of the junior varsity's starters -- development dictator Pat Ford and mayoral mouthpiece Alecia Sirk -- had accepted a series of gifts from the fellow who had arranged a series of irregular concessions from the city in general and Mr. Ford in particular.

Neither Ms. Sirk nor Mr. Ford lasted the day. Ms. Sirk quit the team and the JV captain (boy mayor Luke Ravenstahl) benched Mr. Ford.

Remnants of first-day thoughts:

  • With today's illumination, the aggressive response of the Ravenstahl administration and of Lamar Advertising with respect to the LED billboard dispute is revealed to have been spectacularly inept and counterproductive. Sensible people, when chided with respect to a mistake, advance apologies, suggest misunderstanding and retreat. The Ravenstahl administration lawyered up (poorly, of course), declared the inquirers enemies, and pinky-swore with its co-conspirators; Lamar launched in-your-face applications, subpoenas and a lawsuit. I suspect each will pay dearly for its severe miscalculations.
  • The Tribune-Review should be credited for acknowledging that the blockbuster was a result not of its enterprise reporting but rather of Mr. Ford's slithering into the newsroom with a confession designed to defuse a blogger's revelations. A lesser newspaper (usually the Trib, come to think of it) might have breathlessly reported that "the Trib has learned" of the misconduct.
  • It now appears that George Specter did not become a thoroughgoing dunce upon the junior varsity's taking the field to replace Bob O'Connor's administration. Instead, my diagnosis has become a severe case of dopey client disease. Specter apparently advised against the serial extracurricular accommodations of Lamar's commercial interests, but that advice was ignored. A dopey client puts a lawyer in a damning position, often warping the lawyer's conduct. Specter couldn't reveal that his clients knew damned well that they were acting inappropriately (because he had so advised them, in writing); he also could not endorse their frangible positions or wrongful conduct.
  • I hope Mr. Ford was (as is apparently customary) mistaken when he told the Tribune-Review that "my job is my life." Because his job is over.
  • I know Mr. Ford was wrong when he assured the Tribune-Review that citizens should take comfort from their ability to "see what I'm doing" (in the fishbowl); the transparency defense works only when requisite disclosure forms are properly completed and published.
  • I suppose Mr. Ford could claim that he believed -- in a world in which his boss proclaimed that accepting a spot in a $27,000 foursome from an entity seeking his favor involving "nothing of value" -- that taking the surround sound system, the cigars, and the other booty involved nothing rising above the level of "nonpecuniary gift of nominal value." It won't work, of course . . . but, as Otter told Pinto, 'it's gotta work better than the truth.'
  • Electronic signs, surround sound -- scandal, I dub thee Electronigate.


Unknown said...

I like the Electronigate line you're going with.

Infinonymous said...

Thank you, Aaron.

Until you responded, I wondered whether I had a single reader.

Now I know I have a single reader.