Big man: Chron gossip columnist takes on low-level bureaucrat
Chronicle metro/state editorialist and gossip columnist Rick Casey apparently didn't have anything to write about today.
But, he didn't let that stop him. Here's a snippet from today's column of gossip:
May I be so presumptuous as to suggest a topic for discussion at Thursday's weekly "Current Events" group at the Tracy Gee Community Center out at Beltway 8 near Richmond Avenue?
The 30 or so participants in the group at the county-funded center had planned to discuss the newly-proposed Iraqi constitution, but it hasn't quite been proposed yet.
So maybe they should discuss the U.S. Constitution instead. In particular, the First Amendment.
Last week, the community center's director, Margaret Patterson, greeted the members before they started their meeting. She had received a complaint about the previous session and needed to lay down some rules.
Bazemore recalls Patterson as saying participants are restricted to two to three minutes each and are not supposed to try to persuade anyone else of their positions.
Bazemore said she asked Patterson if there was a written set of rules. The answer was no.
Later, Bazemore called Sue McDougald, director of all six community centers in Precinct 3.
"She appeared to be aware of the situation and gave me basically the same responses," Bazemore said. "She also informed me that we could discuss current events only if we did not have a 'political point of view' or were not attempting to 'persuade someone toward our position.' "
* yawn *
Was there any kind of point to all that gossip?
Apparently, Casey thought so, as he had to write up his intimidation of a community center director:
I called Patterson at the center to hear her side of the story.
"I'm going to refer you to my supervisor," she said pleasantly. "She may refer you back to me for details, since she wasn't at the meeting."
That's not what McDougald did. She referred me to her boss, Commissioner Steve Radack.
"We don't really respond to the press," she said. "We're not supposed to write anything in the paper without clearing it downtown, so I don't think he wants us to give interviews."
Hmmmmm. The people paid by taxpayers to run our civic institutions are not supposed to talk about what goes on in them?
She's a low-level bureaucrat. She referred a newspaper reporter to a policymaking elected official. Is that so hard to understand?
Let's hope the bigshot metro/state gossip columnist feels better about himself after taking that cheap shot at a low-level bureaucrat.
The Chronicle's metro news coverage has been improving, in my view. It's a shame that some of the good reporting on the metro/state pages has to share space with Casey's columns.