Post-election: When people stop being polite and start being real.
On Friday, Mercury News columnist Scott Herhold wrote perhaps his most entertaining piece to date about the 2014 elections, recapping a public dispute between Bobby Lopez and Neil Struthers. According to the report, the two men, who stand on opposite sides of the labor playground, squared up on each other at a Starbucks.
And by square up, I mean they reportedly took competing cell phone pictures of each other, dropped some F-bombs and then rubbed their chests against one another. (Apparently, breakdance fighting has finally met its death.)
Lopez, former head of the San Jose Police Officers Association and current prez of the Fraternal Order of Police, gave substantial backing to Magdalena Carrasco in her East Side City Council victory over incumbent Xavier Campos. And by substantial backing, I mean his independent committee spent $100,000 to help her win—probably more than both candidates spent in the race combined.
Struthers, former CEO of the local Building and Trades Council, is a Campos clan inductee. He’s married to State Assembylwoman Nora Campos and brother-in-law to Carrasco’s vanquished opponent.
According to Herhold's account, Struthers stared Lopez down and snapped a photo while the latter was sitting in "a comfortable chair" inside Starbucks. Lopez then pulled out his phone and took a photo of Struthers to show he would not be intimidated. Touché.
I’ll let Herhold take it from here with the occasional aside:
“He says, ‘Bobby Lopez?’ You’re a piece of (bleeping) (excrement)’,” Lopez recalled. “‘You screwed my brother. And I’m going to (bleeping) get you’.”
First of all, if anyone deserved to get screwed in that race—and I’m not saying anyone did get screwed—but if someone did, wouldn’t it have to be Campos? We’re talking about a guy who won the 2010 election against Carrasco because of a fraudulent mailer, which has since been tied to Campos’ close buddy, convicted ex-supervisor George Shirakawa Jr.
Campos invoked the Fifth Amendment—to even his past supporters' chagrin. In his testimony, he refused to even admit that he's a councilmember and Nora is his sister! OK, back to Herhold:
“I was amazed at the public display of anger,” said Lopez, who said he stood up as the two men engaged in a bit of chest-bumping. “It was astonishing that he was that much out of control.”
Can you just imagine the faces of other Starbucks patrons? Two grown men bumping each other in line like a baseball ump and some crusty old manager who just knows that the strike should have been called foul. And here these customers thought they were only gonna get a latte.
Struthers said he could not recall using the precise words Lopez described. But he acknowledged there had been a confrontation.
“We’ve been through four years of people talking (excrement), of people writing (excrement),” he told us. “After a while, it gets personal. I told him how I felt.”
For a guy who can't remember if he cursed to then go about recalling the incident with curse words, I think it's safe to assume Struthers let loose. But to his broader point, anyone who would dare publish criticism (or thoroughly investigated reports) about Struthers and the Campos clan should best avoid Starbucks. And not just because their coffee sucks.