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Lighting the Fire for a City Hall Witch Hunt

Pointing fingers with little evidence is an irresponsible use of a platform–no matter how insignificant that platform is.

An ex-Weekly-employee turned online opinionist, Robert Haugh, took it upon himself to scour City Hall in search of leaks. In this search, he found one anonymous source that turned his nose to two City employees, who he was quick to name.

There are three reasons why he believes the leak came from a specific City employee–three hole punches. That is, three hole punches in the first page of the leaked City response to the also leaked Measure J Draft Audit Report the Mercury News reported on July 12.

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To the opinionist, this is good enough for him to start a witch hunt in City Hall. Perhaps he would like to start a McCarthy Era in Santa Clara?

Haugh’s source is just as spurious as Jospeh McCarthy’s ever-expanding “list” of card-carrying communists. And, just like the witch-hunting senator from Wisconsin, the damage he’s ready to inflict is all-too-real.

To put it in the words of attorney Joseph Welch at the memorable senate hearing marking the beginning of McCarthy’s and McCarthyism’s end, “Have you no sense of decency, sir?”

The Editorial Board is concerned that making unfounded allegations against City employees will injure innocent people–especially since the claim is laughably unsubstantiated.

These City employees are hired, not elected, which makes his accusations even more dangerous. Right now, these people are City employees that some chatterers in the City feel are fair game for abuse. But lies spread online can have long-term consequences on people’s futures.

This Editorial Board will not use the City employees’ names because, until there is actual evidence of wrong-doing, they are victims of a rogue opinionist. His “reporting” lacks in many ways, but most of all it lacks any sort of integrity.

We find this conduct to be dishonest and negligent–not to mention a deflection from the real story.

This opinionist likes to continuously distract from real Santa Clara news to push an agenda that may be his own or, possibly, the agenda of someone with a big office at City Hall. He likes to present himself as a “real journalist” with a big heart for Santa Clara behind his keyboard but fails to prove it.

Instead of throwing City employees under the bus based on pure speculation, why doesn’t this self-proclaimed journalist actually report on something other than City Council, which he can watch from home?

In his attempt to deflect and distract, he has adeptly avoided writing about the audit itself or the department’s responses. He admits that he hasn’t “read in detail the 169-page draft audit” nor has he reported on it. He has only posted opinion pieces to sidetrack his “faithful readers” from its pages. Maybe that’s because the responses cast doubt on the audit and the elected City official who ordered it.

No. Instead he would prefer to troll and smear the reputations of City employees based on holes in paper.

In full disclosure: The Santa Clara Weekly sued Robert Haugh for defamation. Haugh filed a motion to strike the complaint. The court ruled in favor of Haugh. The Weekly is appealing the decision.

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