Newport Beach City Councilmember and 74th Assembly District candidate Leslie Daigle this week criticized last week’s “Feet to the Fire Forum” of journalists and Assembly candidates as “a joke” and “Jerry Springer.”
Her comments were included in an exchange of facebook messages with blogger Geoff West, who posted the messages on his blog, “A Bubbling Cauldron.”
Daigle wrote that the panel included “a discredited columnist” – apparently a reference to Daily Pilot columnist Jack Wu, who has been sharply critical of Daigle – and that moderator Barbara Venezia, who made an abortive run for council against Daigle in 2006, “harbors bitterness.”
This writer also participated on the panel.
* Read Jean Ardell’s opinion of the Feet to the Fire Forum here. *
Daigle also criticized Wu in the forum itself, saying he had ties to rival candidate Bob Rush through an “independent expediture” committee that Wu served as an unpaid officer and Rush donated to.
That committee was not affiliated with any candidate, but spent its money on materials critical of Councilman Steve Rosansky, who was running for reelection.
This year, Wu has expressed support for the reelection of Allan Mansoor in the 74th Assembly District contest.
Daigle’s comments were prompted by West’s post following the forum, in which he opined that Daigle had performed poorly and that the relatively unknown Rush had done the best. West also wrote that the candidates were “mercilessly grilled” and the forum was “the best game in town.”
“One of the journalists told me about the kool-aid you have now clearly drank,” Daigle wrote to West.
West replied that he was reporting what he saw and that, based on conversations with others in attendance, he was not alone in his judgments.
Daigle then wrote, “The promoter lost credibility….invites participates to be interviewed by journalists then tries to spice it up with a discredited opinion columnist (‘not a journalist’)… its leaked the theme is make bob rush look viable…embarrassingly low turnout…. forum is jerry springer cuz’ the format is a joke…”
In a later note, Daigle wrote, “The forum crashed this year because of its poor format and the inclusion of non pro journalists.”
West chided her for blaming her “miserable performance” on others, and wrote that he had been hoping she would do well and be a credible alternative to Mansoor.
“I was ready and eager to support your candidacy,” West wrote in one message, adding, “This exchange … has changed my mind.”
“You are hyping a forum that wasn’t professionally conducted,” Daigle wrote in her final message.
The “Feet to the Fire” forums – last week’s was the third – are organized by Venezia and feature a panel of local journalists engaging in a free-flowing discussion with a group of newsmakers. Previous forums have focused on the 2010 city council races in Costa Mesa and Newport Beach and the pension and employment controversy in Costa Mesa. Daigle also participated in the first forum, as a council candidate.
In addition to Wu and this writer, others who participated last week were Norberto Santana Jr. of the VoiceofOC website, Daily Pilot Editor John Canalis, and Tom Johnson, publisher of the Current.
The panel spent 90 minutes talking with Daigle, Mansoor and Rush in an informal setting.
The forum was videotaped – watch it here.