1: any of various flies (as a horsefly, botfly, or warble fly) that bite or annoy livestock
2: a person who stimulates or annoys especially by persistent criticism
This story involves definition No. 2, but we’re not here to make fun of a strident citizen in the snarky manner you might expect. No, this Story of the Week focuses on a gadfly getting the best of an elected official. The whole deal is pretty absurd, so, of course, it happened in Milpitas.
The Milpitas City Council chambers was packed Tuesday night. A furor had erupted over the city’s consideration of outsourcing police duties. During the public comments portion at the beginning of the meeting, some people spoke about the need for a greater public safety presence. Then a gadfly by the name of Isaac Hughes—wearing shorts, a purple Polo and a sunhat—showed a video of Councilmember Debbie Giordano allegedly stealing her ex-husband’s mailbox.
Hughes’ bravado once he gets the mic is classic.
“I don’t want to be interrupted by anybody,” he says. “I’m not asking questions. … The city attorney will not interrupt me, because I know he knows my constitutional rights. Show No. 2.”
And off we—wait, technical difficulties.
“What happened to my video?” Hughes asks. “Make it work, I know they work. I know I’m not being sabotaged here.”
He wasn’t; Giordano was. Here’s video of the full meeting for more context. (Start at the 32-minute mark.)
The video clearly shows a woman get out of her SUV, put items into several mailboxes and then remove one mailbox from a fence before driving away.
“There she goes,” Hughes says. “She just stole a mailbox.”
Milpitas Mayor Jose Esteves, a long-time adversary of Giordano’s who had his own snafu at City Hall not too long ago, seems to take a little pleasure in the proceeding,
“I want to thank you, now,” Esteves says. “Thank you, sir.”
Giordano, clearly irked by her ex-husband’s friend showing a video of what he alleged to be criminal activity, asks Hughes to come back and answer some questions. He rightfully declines—any gadfly worth its salt knows that if the tables were reversed, an elected official wouldn’t answer questions during the public comments portion of a meeting. Giordano then says the two have a running history and enlists the help of City Attorney Mike Ogaz to find out if Hughes’ actions might qualify as the activity of a lobbyist. (Hughes says he is a friend of Mike Giordano, the councilmember’s ex-husband, and that he received the tape at no charge. He adds that the video is a few months old.)
Ogaz demurs, and Hughes cries out from the crowd, “I’m not a lobbyist.”
“OK,” Mayor Esteves says and starts laughing.
During his presentation, Hughes also said a case was filed with the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office. A call over to the Sheriff’s Office was not returned, and the District Attorney’s Office has yet to confirm a report was received. We’ll update once we know more.
(UPDATE: The Sheriff’s Office confirmed that case No. 12-158-0438E, a petty theft report, says that a mailbox was stolen June 6 in the 1900 block of Old Calaveras Road in Milpitas, an unincporporated part of town. The report states that the suspect pulled a mailbox off its post without permission of the owner and drove away with it. The victim is seeking prosecution for the theft of the mailbox, valued at $12. No arrests or citations have been made, as follow-up still needs to be conducted.)
Later in Tuesday’s meeting, the council decided to put an ordinance on the next agenda that public safety workers not be outsourced. It’s worth noting that no one made a bid to take over Milpitas’ policing duties, and even the Sheriff’s Office formally declined to submit a bid.
One could guess that the Sheriff’s Office wanted nothing to do with Milpitas’ foolishness.