Mercury News’ City Hall Reporter Poised to Sue over Loss of Job

The Mercury News lost a slew of longtime journalists in 2017, and the year ended with word of yet another notable departure. The week before Christmas, the South Bay’s daily paper of record said goodbye to San Jose City Hall reporter Ramona Giwargis, who had been on the beat just short of three years. How exactly she departed is unclear, but she’s since lawyered up with Jim McManis, an expensive, labor-friendly attorney who’s sued the city on multiple occasions. Recent victories include a case that went to the state Supreme Court, which now forces elected officials to turn over messages that deal with public business but are sent from personal devices. McManis also successfully sued the city to pay back $50 million to its now-defunct Redevelopment Agency and he was victorious in the infamous Little Saigon dispute. He was recently overheard boasting, “I know where the bodies are buried at City Hall, and I have a feeling that is going to be useful in this case.” While both Giwargis and McManis declined to comment, insiders suggested the reporter’s sudden absence could be connected to a story she was working on involving Mayor Sam Liccardo and his close friend Carl Guardino, a registered lobbyist and head of the influential Silicon Valley Leadership Group. How much was gleaned from that reporting is uncertain—accounts have ranged from juicy to a quixotic witch-hunt—but it apparently caused a rift between Giwargis and her bosses at the Merc after they killed the story. Since joining the paper in mid-2015, Giwargis has consistently butted heads with Liccardo, and multiple sources in the mayor and city manager’s offices have complained to Fly in the past that her reporting contained factual mistakes. The Merc’s policies on “updating” stories hasn’t always been the most transparent, but there have been several instances in which Giwargis’ stories would be published online and end up rewritten a day or two later. A spokesman for Liccardo says the mayor “was not in any way involved in the Merc’s decision, and that he was as surprised as anyone when he heard the news.” (Memo to McManis: A Liccardo deposition could produce some interesting material.) Merc managing editor Bert Robinson noted in an email, “As a rule, we don't comment on these kinds of employment matters.” For his part, Guardino texted Fly, “Let me be unequivocal: I have never said to anyone at the Mercury News that Ms Giwargis or any reporter should be fired from his or her job. Stating otherwise is completely false.” Oddly enough, Giwargis has yet to change any of her social media profiles to note that she is no longer employed by the paper.

Screenshot from Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Screenshot from Wednesday, January 3, 2018

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22 Comments

  1. The uncovering had to do with conduct by Liccardo and Rick the City Attorney.

    PART ONE

    There was a Dentist from Sunnyvale who purchased land at or near a place where a Bart Station drop off would be located for the Chuckles Reed Sham Baseball Stadium and all the Redevelopment Agency land bought up for a nickel on the dollar with taxpayer funds then sold to the City for many times over the purchase price for that Baseball Stadium.

    Well the Doctor opened a Rehabilitation Operation on the land next to a park and $500,000 homes at the time. The neighborhood was unhappy. He then petitioned to enlarge his operation and Liccardo and Rick blocked it with the City Council. They knew it was wrong but it caused a lawsuit against the City in Federal Court which was poorly defended and quickly settled. BIG NOTE ON THIS DEAL! The dentist got to keep and expand his REHAB BUSINESS and the City leased the land and buildings back to him for a $1.00 a year. THIS WAS LICCARDO’S DISTRICT. LICARRDO MOONLIGHTED AS AN ATTORNEY FOR A REAL ESTATE FIRM. HELLO!

  2. PART 2
    The dentist got a huge settlement, the City paid him a fortune for the land saying it’s valuable for a Bart Station when the new Baseball Stadium is built, NEVER HAPPENED. Of course no Baseball Stadium was really ever intended only the wasting of the Redevelopment Agency money to buy up the land and sell it to the City by the City Politicals whose friends bought it originally. Then Reed was demanded by State Government to refund the state and he moved the money around to hide it.

    .

  3. Part 3
    Now in 2008 he (REED) has worthless Deeds and the redevelopment money is gone. Then they disband the SJRA. Remember Reed was a Real Estate Lawyer who left his firm and started a one man Law Firm that then had one client, his old firm. Now he would not have to answer questions about his firms dealings because it was Client /Attorney privilege. He also would not have to recluse himself on City Real Estate votes. Slick!
    We should discuss the fraud in building the NEW CITY HALL (Glass and remixed used concrete in an earthquake area) and the give away of the OLD ONE.
    Jack Slade
    Former City High Ranking Employee you saw the bodies buried for 60 years

  4. Ramona has long had a reputation for butting heads with her editors when it comes to stories that are not favorable to Liccardo or his political allies. Her editors have completely rewritten her online blog posts without her permission to alter their political impact, delayed publication of her stories for electoral purposes, and selectively withheld Ramona’s too-damaging blog entries from print. I have heard Liccardo staffers express concern that Ramona is “close to labor,” but the fact is that the Mercury News is way too close to the Mayor’s office. Very interested to see where this moves.

    • Kind of interesting that you bring that up because Ramona’s significant other is close to labor. Maybe that’s got something to do with their fear of her being close to labor as well. Who she is dating should not be a basis for dismissal.

  5. Hmmm.

    Let me see, who do you root for in this battle. Sleazy politicians in a corrupt city, or sleazy fired reporter and her lawyer from a corrupt fake news paper.

    Cue the Jeopardy theme, and bet your ass off the taxpayers get stuck in the wallet.

    Where is the Daily Planet and Lois Lane when you need them?

  6. Since there appears to be no one left at the Merc, will SJI now occupy the press office at city hall?

  7. Litigation lawyers have to be one of the lowest human scum on earth. What a shame that they are allowed to reproduce. Why is this even a “news” story? Does anybody really care about media reporters? Probably not.

    • Regardless of one’s political stripe, only litigation has forced change by exposing illegal and unsavory practices. Unchallenged, the rule of law fails to exist.

  8. Posting here, just to see if I can. Mercury News has banned me from commenting on online stories because they didn’t like my input. I didn’t violate any of their rules, but there’s a moderator out there (who won’t answer my e-mails) who likes to influence article threads by deleting comments. I believe a few of Ramona’s stories were ones they were sort of guiding/editing “after the fact” by controlling comments. So much for freedom of speech.

  9. Have you ever seen an attorneys birth certificate? It’s a letter of apology from the Trojan Rubber Co. Never more true than in this instance. Here was a nimrod that was paid to do a job, and had a boss that told her to do her job. So this nimrod couldn’t take the heat and hired a fleabag attorney to mess things up with yet another nuisance lawsuit. It’s really a sad state when attorneys like this and the ACLU set the country back fifty years for the want of money.

    • Please enlighten us if you have some special insight of the circumstances. McManis Falkner doesn’t appear to take nuisance lawsuits.

      It would appear that McManis has taken the case, but has not yet filed suit. We don’t know if taken on contingency, if Giwargis made a preliminary payment (probably in the $20K neighborhood), or if she’s receiving assistance from her union or another 3rd party. The complaint may have nothing to do with her reporting, but something else like sexual harassment. Also intriguing is the publicity. Wonder who leaked the story and their motive?

  10. > He was recently overheard boasting, “I know where the bodies are buried at City Hall, and I have a feeling that is going to be useful in this case.”

    I suspect that a little waterboarding might help discover some of the bodies.

    > (Memo to McManis: A Liccardo deposition could produce some interesting material.)

    If waterboarding works on McManis, it should work on Liccardo, too. Yes?

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