City Attorney Fumes at Angel Sign on Balcony
City Attorney Ariel Calonne, the straightest arrow at City Hall, came into the office to catch up on Sunday and was shocked – not to mention entirely unamused – at what he found:
A full-size orange, white and sky blue banner, flapping on his office balcony that read, “Angel Martinez for Mayor.”
Calonne is so sober and resolute that some City Hall insiders refer to him as “Eliot Ness” (behind his back, of course). He takes his job very seriously, especially the Caesar’s Wife part of the job description that calls for him, categorically and scrupulously, to be above politics.
“My goal is to handle issues apolitically and to avoid efforts to draw my office into political matters,” the city attorney said, in a terse email exchange about the episode.
How’d you get that? On Sunday, Calonne (whose name is "pronounced R-E-L KA-LAWN" according to the city website) promptly took a photo of the offending banner, which he noted is time stamped “at around 10:37 a.m.”
Posted above is a copy of his photo, which we most assuredly did not obtain from him.
“I am not sure who sent you that photo, and frankly I am surprised that it was released,” he told us. “If it was released by a City official, it was done without regard to the appropriate means of obtaining a waiver of the attorney-client privilege.”
All righty then.
After the photo shoot, he took about 12 seconds to remove Angel's advertising from his balcony, office turf included in his lease.
“I was contacted by the building management firm on Monday,” he recalled. “They provided an explanation to me, but I will not disclose that information as I have no way of verifying what I was told. I released the banner back to a claimant/agent of the sign owner the same day.”
Period. Full stop.
Pounding the pavement. Which left the critical job of reconstructing the Keystone Kops campaign kerfuffle to Newsmakers’ own high-powered, highly trained and highly motivated Department of Investigative Reporting and Shaggy Dog Stories.
No one whom we discovered was involved in the episode was eager to chat about how the city’s Top Legal Officer was placed, through no fault of his own, in the uncomfortable position of seeming to fly the flag for one of five candidates in the wide-open mayor’s race, at least for a few hours. (Oh yeah, his clients include the three mayoral candidates on city council).
The City Attorney’s office occupies suite 201, up a flight of well-crafted brick stairs, in the elegant De La Guerra Building, directly across the plaza from City Hall. (Next door, in Suite 203, btw, is an outfit called Santa Barbara Singles, a story for another day).
Lynx Management Inc. oversees the De La Guerra Building for real estate investor Ray Mahboob, who is a big backer of Martinez.
The Lynx agent with whom Calonne discussed the banner matter is Jonathan Blakey, whom the company web site describes as a “hard-working and driven young professional” born in England.
On Wednesday, Blakey was so hard-driven that he proved inadequate to the task of picking up the phone to return multiple calls inquiring about his actions.
Martinez supporter and volunteer Ray Mahboob, in a brief telephone interview, said the banner got on Calonne’s balcony because of a simple screw-up, which he pinned on the Martinez campaign.
He said that developer and investor Neil Dipaolo, another Angel booster, who is President and CEO of Mesa Lane Partners, wanted the banner to display from his own offices, one floor above the city attorney in the DLG Building.
“It was just a miscommunication,” Mahboob said. “This isn’t a story,” he also assured us.
Martinez himself said he was unfamiliar with the matter.
“I don’t know anything about this. Sorry,” he texted, referring us to campaign strategist Brian Robinson.
“It wasn’t us,” Brian said, graciously interrupting a conference call to speak to us. “It wasn’t the campaign - when somebody requests a banner, we give it to them.”
So there it is: fingers pointing at the other guy in every direction, with the aforementioned Blakey apparently hiding under his desk from the mighty journalistic legions of Newsmakers.
Bottom line. As a practical matter, the Balcony Banner Mystery is just one of those droll and diverting teapot tempests that make politics the greatest spectator sport there is, next to baseball, of course.
As a political matter, it's intriguing for this reason:
According to a totally non-scientific study, based on driving around town with the top down, Martinez is winning the campaign's Sign War for visibility big time – you see his clean and stylish logo everywhere.
Which has to make you wonder if any others got sited through a “miscommunication.”
Images: Angel Martinez banner on City Attorney's balcony on Sunday (Ariel Calonne); Ariel Callone (Justia Lawyers); old-school reporter (we name no names); Jonathan Blakey (Lynx Management Inc.); Brian Robinson (Noozhawk).