Bad Boys With Terrible Judgment

By Norma Damashek / NumbersRunner

Dog days of summer — they’re scorchers.

So what do some people do when it’s too darn hot?  They organize a midnight fandango in the heart of Balboa Park.  They squirt water guns, hoot and holler, trash the gardens, befoul the waterlily pond, kill some fish, break the pipes, trample bushes, and booze and smoke themselves silly.

Not quite like the old days when sweaty families uncapped the corner fire hydrants to cool off with communal dousings.

If you haven’t seen it on TV news you can read about last Saturday night’s ‘happening’ in Balboa Park here.  This was no spontaneous event.  Rather, it was a vigorously-publicized invitational extravaganza to entice thousands of unchaperoned, unsupervised, unpermitted revelers to come on out and wreak some mindless havoc on a landmark piece of public property.  “Load your guns,” broadcasts a Facebook page (now expunged) “and join us for the 2nd Annual Midnight Water Gun Fight in Balboa Park!”  (Anyone out there know who organized the first Annual Midnight Gun Fight?)

Of course boys will be boys.  And even bad boys with miserable judgment, bullying tactics, and a recurrent pattern of irresponsible behavior have every right to parade around as fun guys when the agenda is a free-for-all-water-gun-battle.  But when boys grow up to be irresponsible men and develop delusions of grandeur about occupying the San Diego mayor’s seat, the story becomes menacing.

As I wrote in my previous post, Carl DeMaio — the man who would become San Diego’s next mayor — is tightly enmeshed with businessman Johnathan Hale.  I suggest you reread Sex, Lies, and Videotape, specifically part II.  Why?  Because it happens that the squirt-rave in Balboa Park this past weekend was organized by associates of Johnathan Hale and promoted through his Hale Media outlets ( and  The connections are hard to miss.
Surely Carl DeMaio’s right hand should be aware of and take responsibility for what his left hand is up to.

The initial response cited in the LGBT Weekly, “Neither officials at District 5 City Councilman Carl DeMaio’s council offices, nor at his campaign headquarters are commenting on the fact that DeMaio’s life partner’s media company helped publicize a midnight water-gun battle that became a crime scene in Balboa Park” has been superseded by vigorous protestations of innocence from both DeMaio and Hale.

But it seems no one is taking responsibility for much of anything connected to this much-publicized, officially unauthorized event.  Does anyone know why the SD Police Department went AWOL during the midnight festivities while a thousand-plus water gun squirters recreated on public park property?   And does anyone have a clue to the whereabouts of the private security guards, paid by the city to patrol Balboa Park, for the whole time that the funsters were roaming the Prado?

I conclude this strange tale with an observation and a warning:

*  Something really screwy is going on in our city; and

Norma Damashek is a long-time civic activist and past president of San Diego’s League of Women Voters. She publishes her own blog, NumbersRunner.

Norma Damashek is a long-time civic activist who focuses on promoting decision-making that serves the public good. She has spearheaded community-based coalitions and served on city and regional-government task forces and as past president of San Diego’s League of Women Voters. She opines on her website NumbersRunner.


  1. avatarRB says

    This is the first time someone has claim only ‘boy’ were involved.
    In fact, the author might want to check the picture in the article were 5 out of 6 participants appear to be female.

    • avatarAnna Daniels says

      RB- what a convenient gloss on the story. The participants of note are the police chief, the mayor, Council member DeMaio, and Council member Gloria. They are there too, you just have to look a little harder.

      • avatarRB says

        How convenient to blame those not present, rather then the those who destroyed this civic treasure. Boys were not the only participants in the destruction. I am sorry the facts get in the way of the political narrative.

  2. avatar says

    This strange and screwy tale gets stranger and screwier and raises more questions:
    * Can a city prosper with elected leaders who are irresponsible, lacking in judgment, and delinquent in fulfilling their duties to the public?
    * Can a city thrive with leadership that runs for cover and cowardly hides behind a mea culpa-fall guy who’s pressured to take the heat?
    * Can a city be proud of a police chief and mayor who go AWOL for mysterious, unexplained reasons?

    So you see, the irresponsible “boys” in this case are not the pond-dippers and squirters in the top photo. They’re some of our elected and appointed officials who had full prior knowledge about plans for a risky, unauthorized, illegal midnight flash mob in Balboa Park that would involve a thousand or more people. And these officials DID NOTHING. NADA.

    A simple phone call from Councilmember DeMaio to any one of his friends or associates involved in organizing and promoting the Lily Pond event would have done the trick. All that was needed was: “Hey fellas, what you’re planning sounds like fun and games but it’s a bad idea. Potentially destructive. Illegal, too. I’m a city official with good, mature judgment and I take my responsibility for the health, welfare, and safety of my constituents and city property seriously. So listen up: get a permit and take the water gun fight somewhere else…”

    Instead — SILENCE…from the man who would be our next Mayor. So I repeat: Heads up, everyone.

  3. avatar says

    Those who helped to organize and promote this paint gun shoot in Balboa Park should be held accountable for the damage that has been done.. This was not a spontaneous event, many key people, including some of our elected officials, knew about this 2nd annual event ahead of time. Yet, instead of doing anything to discourage it, or to regulate it, they encouraged and promoted it. One of those key people, through his various media outlets, was Jonathan Hale, Carl DeMaio’s partner. No matter how vociferous the denials Carl makes, the facts speak for themselves. If I were Carl, I’d be taking up donations from some of his wealthy supporters to pay for repairing the damages done to this public property!

  4. avatarD2 says

    Councilmembers DeMaio and Gloria both know Ken St Pierre, the “boy” who organized this silly event and they should haul to butt out in public to apologize and pay for this mess. Man up boyz.

  5. avatarDorothy Lee says

    Norma, your summary and focus provide an important assessment, one that is missing from the barely visible coverage in the UT, of this stupid event and the responses to it. The answers to your questions, which go to the heart of the matter:
    For 6 years I was involved in an issue that, at its core (though not involving the police department), revolved around your questions. That issue led to a lawsuit against the city, which the city lost. The “elected leaders who [were] irresponsible, lacking in judgment, and delinquent in fulfilling their duties to the public” were the mayor, the director of planning (B. Anderson, now gone, working for a contractor with major contracts in city planning), and the city attorney, Goldsmith, and his deputies.

    Along the way to the lawsuit’s conclusion, these so-called city leaders denied wrongdoing and found fall guys; after the court decided against the city, they continued to behave like bullies and continued to try to benefit only those whom they originally tried to benefit illegally, rather than those who sued them for their wrong actions.

    We cannot be proud of anyone in the city when the mayor and the city attorney lack judgment and are AWOL in modeling integrity and leadership. However, their behavioral failures are not mysterious: it was clear in my issue that their bad actions and willfull blindness were driven by a goal to favor, empower, and enrich certain groups of local businesses.

    It’s a good warning to reject politicians who claim they will run government “like a business” and run as model CEOs, rather than as public leaders.

    • avatar says

      Of course the quality and allegiances of the people we elect as city leaders have everything to do with the way our city is run. San Diego’s good climate tends to blind us to our long tradition of mediocrity in the public sector and shallow, callow goals in the private sector.
      I’m in the process of analyzing the ramifications of San Diego’s switch about eight years ago to a ‘strong mayor’ form of government. Stay tuned.

      • avatarDorothy Lee says

        Looking forward to your research and ideas. Our mayor’s and council’s actions usually have only small and local effects, but are representations of a national and evolving ideology. The ramifications, when experienced through locally delivered government, however, are felt quite personally.

        As Thomas Frank said, when Bill Moyers asked him to reduce misgovernment to a bumper-sticker:
        “Bad government is the natural product of rule by those who believe government is bad.”

  6. avatarDoug Porter says

    There is an SDPD investigation underway. As is standard policy, the cops won’t talk about an ongoing investigation. I’d bet that nothing will come of it.

  7. avatarGoatskull says

    Could be fun to watch Bob Filner and Carl Demaio to get in a water fun fight with each other.

    • avatar says

      Isn’t that what guys do all the time? I believe you call it a pissing contest.
      But let’s get real — this year’s mayor’s race is no silly or macho game. There’s a vast difference between Filner and DeMaio and no one should underestimate the consequences, depending on which one wins.
      Our control over world or national politics may be limited but here at the local level we voters can make a difference.