Wednesday, August 1, 2007

On Mayors who speak without thinking ahead

As about eighteen million websites and blogs have already mentioned today, Mayor of San Diego Jerry Sanders let loose on a local morning radio program with the following quote about the just finished San Diego Comic-Con, and the just about to start American Idol auditions...

“We’ve put up with the superheroes and now we’re on to the people with actual talent.”
I dropped a note to the Mayor's website alerting him to the short-sightedness of the comment, but I decided that wasn't...quite...enough.

I called the mayor's communication office and asked if an official statement had been prepared about the comment, explaining I was preparing a story on the incident.

I called the Convention Office Liason, and found out that the AI Auditions had about 30,000 attendees, counting friends and family. That's compared the approximately 140,000 SDCC attendees.

I mentioned I was getting the info for an article on the "superheroes" quote. He said he'd have someone get back to me.

The Mayor's Deputy Press Secretary called me back in under an hour. His initial comments on the phone were off the cuff and all of the variety of he was kidding, he loves you guys, etc. But I maintained a calm demeanor, and asked again if that was an official statement. I played the role of journalist, not offended geek.

About an hour or two later, I got the following official response...

Anybody who thinks that Jerry Sanders doesn’t really love Comic-Con doesn’t know about his history with this convention. When he was chief of police he helped make this one of the most secure and fun conventions to attend in the world. Since being elected mayor, Jerry has gone to opening day for each of the past two years.

In his first year as mayor, Jerry joined Comic-Con president John Rodgers to help unveil the DC Comics Super Heroes stamps, saying to a packed house of more than 3,000 in attendance:

“Comic book Superheroes continue to capture the imagination of people young and old, and the Superheroes of DC Comics are some of the mostly widely recognized icons in the world. I can’t think of a more fitting subject to be memorialized in a U.S. Postage Stamp Series, and I couldn’t be prouder that these stamps are having their exclusive First Day Stamp Issue here in San Diego.

You can’t help but get caught up in the energy and buzz that takes over San Diego each year when more than 100,000 participants flock to Comic Con. This is truly the one convention that everyone talks about each year, and I’m so pleased that Comic Con continues to call San Diego home. I hope you continue to come back for many years to come.”

Then just last week, as he kicked off the Yu-Gi-Oh! World’s Fair and International Championship Tournament sponsored by Upper Deck and KONAMI, the mayor said:

“We also appreciate how Yu-Gi-Oh and all its players add to our local economy and to our status as one of the world’s leading creative communities. I’m proud to say that in addition to everything else Upper Deck and the KONAMI Corporation bring to San Diego, they also bring jobs.

That’s a great local business connection and just a small example of how important creative games and creative companies like Upper Deck and KOMAMI are to cities like San Diego.”

The mayor went so far as to declare opening day at Comic-Con “Yu-Gi-Oh! Day” in the City of San Diego and gave Upper Deck’s John Sepenuk a special resolution commemorating that declaration.

The mayor gets it, the mayor likes it, the mayor has a good time, and like everyone else who attends, he enjoys the excitement, the energy, and, yes * all the costumes and hoopla that are such a big part of what Comic-Con has become.

The mayor in no way meant to disparage the talent and attention to detail shown by anyone attending Comic-Con. He loves you guys and looks forward to seeing you next year, and is sorry for the misunderstanding.

George N. Biagi III
Deputy Press Secretary
Mayor Jerry Sanders
City of San Diego

This is a real good example of how well the Internet works at spreading news. He makes a comment like that and it's spread country-wide in under a day. When they saw they were getting a call from Pennsylvania asking about the quote, they knew they had to move, and fast.

How great is it that one person (me) can make one phone call and get this much done in only a couple hours? This had to be drafted from scratch, and fast. I feel almost...important.