The Starting Line – Water Gun Party Goes Out of Control: Balboa Park Pond Left Ruined

Virtually all the news media in America’s Finest City have been breathlessly reporting on the vandals that trashed the lily pond in front of the Botanical Building on Saturday night. And, at least from what I saw on twitter yesterday, lots of people were very angry about the damage done to the park. Here’s a 39 second video of the chaos that ensued.

What started as a public late night water pistol showdown at the big fountain in Balboa Park got out of hand as a crowd, variously estimated at between 1500 to 2000 people arrived at midnight for the social media-driven event. Although some organizers claimed that they originally expected about 100 people, over 6000 invites were sent out via a Facebook event page (since deleted), with over 1000 people RSVPing for the occasion.

The primary organizer for the “2nd Annual Water Gun Fight in Balboa Park” was Ken St. Pierre, until recently Sales Director for San Diego Gay and Lesbian news and San Diego Pix, owned by Jonathan Hale (partner of Carl DeMaio). A recent press release from Hale media indicated that Pierre is leaving that organization to accept a similar position with the ultra-luxe Riviera Magazine. The event was promoted in SDGLN last Thursday:

And this Saturday, we have a very unique and unusual event coming up: A midnight water gun fight in Balboa Park being organized by Ken St. Pierre and others. The idea is to “… meet at the large fountain in front of San Diego Natural History Museum at 11:45 pm (near Park Boulevard). First “squirt” will be at the stroke of midnight and then it is a free-for-all of water gun madness!!!”

The event is BYOWG (bring your own water gun) and pool attire is suggested, as everyone will be getting soaking wet. The fascinating thing is, this event has already generated LOTS of attention; as I write this over 900 people have already indicated themselves as “Going” on Facebook, and organizers are hoping the event will continue to go viral and attract over 1,000 potential attendees. So yeah, this should be interesting!

A spokesperson for the San Diego Police Department told reporters that the damage that resulted from water pistol showdown is being treated as a felony vandalism case because of the high dollar value associated with damage to the plants, the hardscape, and the historic fountain.  Balboa Park officials are saying the lily pads and the fish living in the pond may die as a result of the damage caused by the crowd, with damages expected to cost more than ten thousand dollars.

It’s a conspiracy!… this little ol’ project (SD Free Press) is just two months old, and we’re very pleased to say that we’ve struck a positive chord with plenty of people. Our statistics are going up, up, up (last week we averaged 1300 unique viewers daily, almost double what it was a month ago) and we’ve had lots of interest from people wanting to contribute their time and talent.  (This is an all volunteer project, by the way.) So yesterday we hosted the first “get together”, with 35 people who are involved with or want to be involved with bringing neighborhood news and progressive views to San Diego. It was an experience in empowerment as people from different causes, neighborhood and disciplines got, I hope, an inkling of what could be the future of citizen journalism here in America’s Finest City. I joked that this confab was the beginning of the end for Doug Manchester and his sick and twisted vision.  And who knows, it could be! I’m sure we’ll do this again in the fall, so stay tuned…

The robo-signing credit card crisis… The New York Times today runs with a story that I suspect will grow in significance over the coming days, as they point out that the same types of issues that have beset banks are now emerging in legal actions aimed at collecting credit card debts around the nation. The Times account reports that many of the lawsuits filed by companies like like American Express, Citigroup and Discover Financial are relying on erroneous documents, incomplete records and generic testimony from witnesses. Attorney Peter Holland, who runs the Consumer Protection Clinic at the University of Maryland is quoted, saying : “This is robo-signing redux.”  Despite this reliance on faulty and incomplete evidence, the financial industry is winning a vast majority of its legal actions for the simple reason that borrowers rarely show up in court to contest them.

Dougie Manchester’s big pout… I guess that I’m just immune to the UT-San Diego’s Sunday front page pleas (editorials) for various Republican candidates. Yesterday’s fishwrap wanted us to know just what a wonderful choice Paul Ryan was as VEEP candidate….blah, blah, blah.

What was much more amusing was the editorial that actually appeared on the editorial page.  Entitled “Port shows its bad faith yet again”, publisher Manchester’s minions dutifully took the Port of San Diego to task for daring to interfere with their grand plan to build a football stadium (with taxpayer monies) on the waterfront. The Port authority announced a long-term contract with Dole fruit this week for 22 acres at the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal, where 95,000 containers of fruit are unloaded from ships annually. Whether or not this was a good deal merits further investigation; telling a company that has a giant-sized economic foot-print in the region to “beat it” (their alternative was to move operations to Ventura County) so you can built a sandbox for your wealthy friends is just plain ridiculous.

The first openly gay general… Doesn’t merit any coverage in today’s UT-SD, but it was big news in other newspapers around the country, including the dailies in Los Angeles, Seattle and New York.  Army reserve officer Tammy Smith was promoted to brigadier general on Friday, coming out of the closet by having her wife pin her star to her uniform at a ceremony at the women’s memorial at Arlington National Cemetery. Though it’s doubtful, according to a spokeswoman for OutServe, that Smith is the only gay officer of flag rank in the United States military, her public acknowledgment is a significant milestone.

A crusade for justice starts here…  An alliance of groups, known as the “Caravan for Peace with Justice and Dignity”, calling for an end to the war on drugs, began a month long campaign Sunday in San Diego with a gathering at the US-Mexico border, a rally at Chicano park, along with vigil and forum at the University of San Diego. Headed by Mexican peace activist Javier Sicilia, whose son was killed by drug gang members last year, the coalition backing the caravan includes nearly 100 organizations. An estimated 60,000 people have been killed in Mexico because of the failed war on drugs, according to the group. The caravan heads to Los Angeles today, and will visit two dozen US cities before it ends up in Washington DC next month.

 Say what? Activist Bryan Pease reported a conversation with Mayoral candidate Carl DeMaio via twitter yesterday, saying that the City Councilman told him that “he wants to undo the year round rope for La Jolla seals he voted for and the Coastal Commission approved.”

 What kind of weather do we have?  NBC/7 News posted a bit o’fluff this weekend about a list compiled by the Weather Channel that named San Diego as one of the two “safest weather” cities in the west (The other was West Honolulu). We’re told that the list was created by compiling data on weather events deemed dangerous by the National Weather Service, including flooding, lightning, tornadoes, tropical cyclones, snow and ice storms, extreme heat, extreme cold, high winds and rip currents.

This morning NBC/7 News sent out a tweet warning that the national weather service was predicting 700 lightning strikes for San Diego County. Calfire information reported yesterday that  there were 635 strikes in the county. Just sayin….

Romney watch…On Friday challenger Mitt Romney was angrily denying Senator Harry Reid’s insinuation that he’d paid no taxes in the past.  On Saturday he picked a running mate whose budget plan would zero out his taxes. A spokesperson for the Romney’s presidential campaign has told the press that “several” years of tax returns from potential vice presidential picks were requested. However, only two years of those returns from Vice Presidential candidature Paul Ryan will be released for public scrutiny.

And so the “tax watch” goes on. After all, Mitt’s father, former Michigan Governor George Romney, began the voluntary practice of financial transparency when he volunteered to turn over, in his case, 12 years of tax returns to an inquisitive reporter in 1967. 2012 candidate  Romney reportedly provided 23 years of returns to John McCain’s vetters when he was up for the vice presidential nomination four years ago. His refusal to release more than two years of returns is based on what he says is a fear that the Obama campaign and the media will distort the contents of any other returns.

Sarah Palin has a ‘church lady’ moment…  In a Facebook rant that started out as a salute to the GOP 2012 ticket, former Vice Presidential candidate and reality TV host Sarah Palin took off on a tangent trashing California as the embodiment of everything that those satanic Democrats want to do to America. Here’s the money quote, as reported in the Chicago Tribune:

“The Golden State once boasted the entrepreneurial innovation of Silicon Valley,” Palin wrote in her almost 1,200-word post, “the American creative engine of the arts, economically powerful and beautiful cities from San Francisco to San Diego, and fertile farmlands that helped feed the nation.”

Never mind that the Golden State attracts more venture capital that the other 49 states combined, according Standard & Poor’s, or that California’s job growth rate is more than double the national average, or that exports—including agricultural products—are at record highs; Palin goes on and on with what the Business Insider called an “epic tirade.” I’m personally sick and tired of our State being called out by factually challenged GOP goons. If  it’s so bad, why doesn’t Romney move his summer home in La Jolla elsewhere? And why do all these Republicans keep showing up to raise money here if we’re already on a fast track to become the next “Greece”?

Tweets of the Day:

 Point Loma Dem Club ‏@PointLomaDem: If Paul Ryan popped up in the first ten minutes of a Law and Order episode, you’d be all “oh, he’s the killer”. (via @bazecraze)

helen (@liberalchik) RT @OTOOLEFAN: RT @jbendery: In 13 years, Paul Ryan only passed two of his bills into law. One named a post office.

Quote of the Day: “People of privilege will always risk their complete destruction rather than surrender any material part of their advantage.” John Kenneth Galbraith (1977)

On This Day: In 1846 the American Flag was raised for the first time in Los Angeles, In 1912 the first experimental radio license was issued to St. Joseph’s College in Philadelphia  In 1967 the Daughters of the American Revolution refused to allow Joan Baez to perform at Constitution Hall in Washington, DC. because of her opposition to the Vietnam War.

On This Day: Eat Fresh! Today’s Farmers’ Markets: Escondido (Welk Resort 8860 Lawrence Welk Drive)3 – 7 pm

Fun Stuff: Hey kids! Mayoral candidate Carl DeMaio is hosting a fundraiser at the Hard Rock Hotel on Tuesday, August 28th, from 6-8pm. It’s being billed as “Rock Out with Reform”; one free drink ticket per paid guest, maximum contribution $1000. RSVP

I read the Daily Fishwrap(s) so you don’t have to… Catch “the Starting Line” Monday thru Friday right here at San Diego Free Press (dot) org. Send your hate mail and ideas to DougPorter@SanDiegoFreePress.Org    Check us out on Facebook and Twitter.



Doug Porter

Doug Porter was active in the early days of the alternative press in San Diego, contributing to the OB Liberator, the print version of the OB Rag, the San Diego Door, and the San Diego Street Journal. He went on to have a 35 year career in the Hospitality business and decided to go back into raising hell when he retired. He's won awards for 'Daily Reporting and Writing: Opinion/Editorial' from the Society of Professional Journalists in 2013, 2014 and 2015. Doug is a cancer survivor (sans vocal chords) and lives in North Park.
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  1. avatardorndiego says

    DeMaio’s “hosting a fundraiser at the Hard Rock Hotel” ? Water Pistols and bathing suits?

  2. avatar says

    Wait a minute, here. Just when did Ken St. Pierre leave SDGLN or is he still in fact there? If he’s still there, then an employee of DeMaio’s partner is now liable for felony vandalism?

  3. avatarMichael says

    Frank, Ken left SDGLN a few months back, but he’s still a close friend of Carl DeMaio and Jonathan Hale, and has been helping the DeMaio for mayor campaign.

  4. avatarStuck Here says

    Maybe Mr. St. Pierre should start a Facebook page to solicit donations from all his invited guests to help repair the park. Wonder if we will hear about that, or perhaps only the sound of crickets chirping.

    Stay classy San Diego…not.

  5. avatarDorothy Lee says

    Doug, that’s the first time DeMaio has ever been mum on anything. He needs to step up and go into one of his rants, which we’ve all seen in Council hearings. The irresponsible, utterly childish behavior and actions of these people, at an event promoted by DeMaio’s partner and campaign worker, requires an official rant from DeMaio. Plus, DeMaio and SDGLN should be charged as co-conspirators, prosecuted, and fined.

    A question: is it possible that many hundreds of revelers can gather in Balboa Park and no one is around to notice and stop them from trashing the park? Amazing! Not one security patrol, or police officer even driving through? Just wow!

    • avatarDoug Porter says

      As several people have noted, a public meeting (General Assembly-Not a protest) by Occupy San Diego draws a squad of police. A bunch of (water) gun toting people in costumes at midnight in a public park, not so much. And there are a couple of citizens who’ve come forward to say that they called the police to warn them… it must have been the political connections.

    • avatarJEC says

      The SDPD need to held accountable. They were AWOL – an iconic symbol of San Diego left to the vandals on SDPD’s watch. I know, they’ll say it was Saturday Night and they had no resources – crap – check PB, MB, Gas Lamp. This event was even openly promoted and they still let it happen. Damn –

  6. avatarDoug Porter says

    here’s LGBT Weekly’s take on it “Councilman mum after event promoted on partner’s Web site becomes crime scene” h/t OBRag

  7. avatarDoug Porter says

    The story continues to grow: Craig Gustafson over at UT-SD says that Carl DeMaio is having a 5pm press conference to address “accusations from @BobFilnerMayor camp about Balboa Park pond.” At Carl’s campaign HQ.

    • avatarVickie says

      Carl is shocked, SHOCKED that they are calling Johnathan Hale, aka John Wyckoff, aka Johnathan Hackett, a criminal… oh wait, he is a convicted felon!

  8. avatarTrixie says

    So someone posts an event on a community web calendar and that means the owner of the paper is a criminal? You people need to get your facts straight. What a load of equine excrement.

    • avatarJEC says

      SDPD call it felony vandalism – their call. But here on this blog no one accused Jon Hale of being a criminal? Not yet. Based on the available evidence, Ken St Pierre is a central figure and as a friend or associate or former employee of Jon Hale at worst it might be guilt by association. Perhaps if Ken had known the fountain by the Space Theater had been drained for repairs; perhaps if the SDPD has assigned someone, anyone, to watch a crowd of over a 1,000 on a summer’s Saturday night this discussion would not be happening. The city now says no Koi died and maybe the damage was overstated. Maybe the SDPD will revise their felony vandalism charge.

  9. avatarDorothy Lee says

    Trixie, it is more than a posting; it’s a promotion. Here it is exactly as promoted:

    And this Saturday, we have a very unique and unusual event coming up: A midnight water gun fight in Balboa Park being organized by Ken St. Pierre and others. The idea is to “… meet at the large fountain in front of San Diego Natural History Museum at 11:45 pm (near Park Boulevard). First “squirt” will be at the stroke of midnight and then it is a free-for-all of water gun madness!!!”
    The event is BYOWG (bring your own water gun) and pool attire is suggested, as everyone will be getting soaking wet. The fascinating thing is, this event has already generated LOTS of attention; as I write this over 900 people have already indicated themselves as “Going” on Facebook, and organizers are hoping the event will continue to go viral and attract over 1,000 potential attendees. So yeah, this should be interesting!”

    So where should we draw the line for being a responsible newspaper “re-poster”? What if the Facebook posting (and Ken is known by many in the SDGL community, both personally and as a FB friend, which is probably the only reason it got attention at SDGLN) was instead by a known gang member? What if the posting said bring buckets of paint? The police have stated that water guns are legal. So is paint. Everyone who knew this was evolving into a massive crowd situation bears responsibility for what happened, especially the newspaper and police.

  10. avatarrick trujillo says

    Where is the politics ie teachers with pink slips, a non productive (business as usual) military economy robbing San Diego citizens and saddling wage slaves with even more debt…taxes? Worthless soap opera, water pond antics solves nothing.
    So how is our friendly congressman cunningham, hero (not so top gun, anymore), of the 1% doing? Coughed up any more names. playing poker in prison, found jesus, yet? Who else shared the bribes, we still don’t know all the facts. What about the top operations CIA flunky from here doing some quality jail time?
    Let’s hear it from seniorita Duffy, capped crusader of the justice department. Busted anymore neighborhood bakery/restaurants in the name of homeland security? Gotta rid american society of trained bakers for being….mexicans without paperwork…15 years dedicated service (birthday, bar mizvah, wedding cakes, all manner of culinary delights) thrown over a high security wall, plus victimizing an honest immigrant owner whose French family fought nazis. WATER FIGHTS, YEA THAT’S REAL NEWS.

  11. avatarTerrell says

    This newspaper has stated Jon Hale committed a felony.
    Did that girl Vickie from the Teamsters provide you proof? Or is this character assassination and libel an original idea from the FP?

    • avatarDoug Porter says

      1. this isn’t a newspaper. no trees were killed presenting this column.
      2. a commenter–just like yourself-used the word “felony” in talking about Hale’s past.
      3. I’m sorry, I don’t believe I know anybody with the Teamsters
      4. How much did Carl pay you to post here?

    • avatarJEC says

      Reading comprehension check – it’s your declarative statement I mean you must see your own hypocrisy – to accuse by innuendo Doug Porter and the Free Press of dishonest character assassination while it’s you who are guilty. And all because someone had the temerity to report news – news that in the end is so-so – a party that got out of hand – that’s about it but clearly news that upsets you. So I wonder Terrell why? What drives you; love or money? I mean, really, imagine in a more civil time, those who promoted the event would apologize for the unintended results and offer to clean it up. End of story. But now with help from folks such as yourself, that won’t do, will it?


  1. […] Park Water Gun Fight.”; And according to local media outlets (10 News, NBC 7 San Diego, San Diego Free Press), Johnathan Hale’s media publication San Diego Gay & Lesbian News (SDGLN) promoted the […]