DeMaio through the looking glass

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

KPBS is introducing profiles of the leading mayoral candidates this week, and they began on Monday with Carl DeMaio. In the process, they highlight a notorious 2010 exchange with then-CCDC official Fred Maas, that's now a bit more awkward:

“It’s a simple question, who in the office did you speak with?” DeMaio said.
 
“I think you should ask the office of the mayor, they’re here,” Maas replied.
 
“I’m asking you, it’s a simple question!” DeMaio exclaimed. “You said you had nothing to hide here today. I’m asking a simple question, who in the office of the mayor did you speak to?”
 
“I have nothing to hide here at all,” Maas said.
 
“Then answer the question!”
 
“The answer is I’m not going to answer the question,” Maas said.
 
“I’m not sure that’s sufficient!” DeMaio replied.
Fast forward to today, and DeMaio has gone through the looking glass of that conversation. The double standard is stark, since DeMaio now refuses to answer questions from voters, from reporters, or from other candidates about who he meets with. But unfortunately, it also isn't anything new. In fact, it's stunning to draw parallels from this brief exchange to a string of DeMaio incidents over the last few months of campaigning.
 
Just like in 2010, at a January debate he asked other candidates "What do you fear with public participation and public review and input? Why fear it?" But now he refuses to acknowledge questions from the public, much less public review and input on the answers.
 
At a February debate, DeMaio got essentially the same 'who did you meet with' question from fellow candidate Nathan Fletcher. He asked DeMaio whether he has met behind closed doors with any "lobbyists, developers or City Hall insiders" who have funded his campaign, and DeMaio refused to answer. When DeMaio was doing the asking in 2010, he said "it's a simple question!" and told us that failing to answer isn't sufficient.
 
The thing is, we often don't know who DeMaio meets with anymore because there are hundreds of hours worth of blank "Hold for Carl" spaces on his official calendar. That's a problem in itself since he can't tell us whether he's met with his campaign donors behind closed doors on city matters.
 
But it's even stranger since, in January, he told us "I think open government is a principle that you do not violate for any reason." He strenuously objected too in 2010 when Fred Maas wouldn't answer his similar question. With no answers, voters are just left with DeMaio's own question: Why do you fear it?