Home>Legislature>Caballero Staffer Tells Reporter ‘Talk to the Hand’

Caballero Staffer Tells Reporter ‘Talk to the Hand’

Assemblywoman’s coffee fundraiser open to donors, closed to press

By Ken Kurson, August 21, 2018 1:37 pm

This staffer doesn’t like his principal, Assemblymember Anna M. Caballero (D-Salinas), seen in purple jacket between his thumb and index finger, to be photographed. (Ken Kurson)

Things change. For instance, this summer the Alameda school board adopted a new dress code for all city schools that specifically allows for tube tops, ripped jeans, short skirts, even pajamas and underwear that exceeds a waistband—anything goes, as long as it’s “clothing that covers specific body parts (genitals, buttocks, and areolae/nipples) with opaque material.”

Another way things have apparently changed is how campaign aides behave. When I was a young staffer, the first rule we learned on just about any campaign was never put your hand in front of a reporter’s camera. It’s not a good look.

At a campaign fundraiser this morning for Assemblymember Anna M. Caballero (D-Salinas), an unidentified staffer refused a reporter‘s request for a photograph, an introduction, or even an explanation of the purpose of the fundraiser.

Referring to the wide-open, no-door space in which the Assemblywoman was spotted having a discussion with five or six people near a sign that read “This section reserved for private event,” the staffer repeated to a reporter, “This is a private room. This is a private room.”

Asked his name, the besuited fellow told the reporter, “You’ll have to go through official channels to identify my name.” Asked what the fundraiser was for and who were the attendees to whom the Assemblywoman was speaking, he replied, “You’ll have to go through official channels.”

A call at 9:45 am to the Assemblywoman’s office produced an offer to speak to her chief of staff, Reggie Fair, but then Fair declined to pick up the phone because the event in question was “campaign related.” The staffer who did pick up the phone promised that “someone from the campaign” would return the Globe’s call. If that happens, this story will be updated to include comment.

Demonization of the press has of course been much in the news lately. And it has lately taken on a bipartisan hue. While President Trump is surely the most famous of those currently belittling the press—the Globe reported that “at least eight California newspapers” including the San Diego Union Tribune and Mercury News joined the unprecedented coordinated op-ed of 300 newspapers opposing Trump’s anti-media rhetoric—the President is not alone.

Last week, progressive darling Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez took heat for closing two town hall meeting to reporters. She explained that the events were “designed for residents to feel safe,” giving rise to the conclusion that journalists doing their jobs render spaces unsafe.

Washington Post reporter Seung Min Kim took Ocasio-Cortez to task on Twitter for the press exclusion saying that the all-but-certain Congresswoman-to-be “is in for a rough time on Capitol Hill — where reporters roam freely at all hours of the day and night — if this is her attitude toward the press.”

It’s worth noting that this event took place at the Ambrosia, the charming coffee shop steps from the capital. It’s an open space, open to the public, and the reporter was holding his just purchased (and so delicious) chocolate banana bread when the incident occurred.

Assemblywoman Caballero’s district runs down the central coast and includes the towns of Salinas and Soledad, as well as the Ventana Wilderness. In other words, some of the most beautiful land on earth. Perhaps her staff would benefit from the calming influence of communing with nature.

Assemblymember Anna M. Caballero (D-Salinas) in purple jacket, chats with supporters at a fundraiser at Ambrosia coffeeshop in Sacramento. (Ken Kurson)
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