The San Jose Police Department’s ink-stained nemesis has gone native and joined the apparatus that puts people behind bars rather than hold the system accountable. That’s right, reporter Sean Webby is leaving the Mercury News to become a media coordinator for District Attorney Jeff Rosen. The selection is a little curious, considering Webby is about as well liked in public safety circles as the guys sitting in the back of the cars. Webby’s no-holds-barred investigations won awards for the Merc, most notably when he detailed the SJPD’s disproportionate arrest rate of late-night Latino partiers in downtown San Jose. Raj Jayadev and other local community activists frequently used his news clippings as kindle when holding the department’s feet to the fire. Webby’s departure, along with those of other bylines in years past—such as Barry Witt in 2008—seems to suggest a kinder, gentler Merc is on the way. (It’s no coincidence that Witt got a job with the city of San Jose as a legal analyst and investigator after he was made redundant.) Reporters Lisa Fernandez and Mark Gomez are left to carry the crimes and courts torch, but it’s worth pondering if a continued exodus is in the cards. Could columnist Scott Herhold move upstairs at City Hall to become a strategist for Mayor Chuck Reed. Or will lead political reporter John Woolfolk walk out the door to become a flak for Debra Figone? With more position cuts potentially on the horizon for the city and county, job security in local government is no sure bet. But compared to the media, at least they get holiday pay for MLK day.
And for kicks, here’s a video of Webby being tazed: