Mercury News Editor Calls Former Elected Officials ‘Jerks’ in Email

Earlier this year, some of San Jose’s most influential figures sought to beef up funding for the city’s libraries through a ballot initiative. The group, Save San Jose Libraries, had the support of former San Jose Mayor Susan Hammer, Vice Mayors Frank Fiscalini and Trixie Johnson and county Supervisor Blanca Alvarado, but it failed to get a measure on the ballot. That’s because City Clerk Dennis Hawkins repeatedly provided misinformation on how many petition signatures needed to be submitted until just weeks before the deadline. The snafu, which Hawkins apologized for, made a lot of people at City Hall look bad. But according to emails that one local newspaper editor was sending to city officials, it’s Hammer, Fiscalini, Alvarado and Johnson who are the “jerks.” Responding to an email from city spokesman David Vossbrink, who labeled the library initiative an example of more “ballot box budgeting coming to town,” Mercury News opinion editor Barbara Marshman assured him, “Yes, we’ll pile on for sure. Jerks. These people ought to know better.” Ironically, it was just a few weeks ago that people were saying the same thing about Marshman, who sent an email in August to Water District candidate Barbara Keegan offering “lavish praise” in exchange for Keegan withdrawing from the race. Keegan ended up winning the election, while Marshman lost face. It gets better. Marshman’s job is to have an opinion, and in a follow-up email to Vossbrink, she lets her thoughts on the initiative as well as its backers fly: “This is really appalling. I’m just horrified that Susan and Frank are both in this. Trixie had the nerve to tell me, well, it’s not our job any more to do the budget, it’s our job to be advocates. (That whooshing sound you hear is her plunging in my esteem.)”

The Fly is the valley’s longest running political column, written by Metro Silicon Valley staff, to provide a behind-the-scenes look at local politics. Fly accepts anonymous tips.


  1. A strange example of name-calling appears in the Merc today (Wednesday) in a front page article by Steven Harmon.  Without interviewing a single one of the diverse white Americans in this area, he labels us “relatively grumpy.”

    Calling someone “grumpy” is like calling someone a “jerk” when it makes assumptions about interior feelings and ideas.

  2. This Barbara Marshman lady never learns. She still spouts off on a regular basis on the Willow Glen neighborhood electronic mailing list at
    Just the other day she was showing her backside again when a reader questioned why the Murk didn’t cover a story about an attempted abduction in Willow Glen. Marshman actually had the nerve to try to say that the cops didn’t release the info to them, and that is why it wasn’t covered. Unfortunately for her, the story was published on the Fugitive Watch website.

    This megalomaniac is delirious! She believes she’s untouchable and can do no wrong because of all these years of protections from her bosses at City Hall and the rack thieves at Bay Area News Group.
    It’s time to retire Barbara, before Josh and Fly really open up a can on you.
    Buh Bye Marshman.

  3. If the Mercury cares anything about their integrity, they need to get rid of this entire editorial board. It is also disgraceful, but not surprising, they way this person high up in the city administration behaved. Good job, SJI, revealing this information. Keep it up. Also, what is the status of the case of all the newspaper racks the Mercury stole from the Metro? The Mercury is a joke. It is frankly scary to have a city and newspaper colluding with what information will be put out and what information will be squashed.

  4. Editorial page editors and other editors at the San Jose Mercury News have gleefully promoted slander by name-calling on the pages of the paper.  Referring to someone as a “jerk” in an email is pretty low key.  Here are seven examples from the paper out of over 324 we have identified and documented.
    On 2/6/05, editors ran an article quoting Assembly Member Paul Fong calling the San Jose city manger a “white boy.”  No rebuttal allowed.
    On 8/6/06, editors ran an article quoting State Senator Don Perata calling some people “crackers.”  No rebuttal allowed.
    On 2/23/07, editors ran an op-ed saying “Poles and Italians” here for three generations are now “anglos.”  No rebuttal allowed.
    On 11/30/07, editors endorsed calling the diverse white Americans “gringos.”  No rebuttal allowed.
    On 5/20/10, editors ran an op-ed calling an elected Congress member a “goober.”  No rebuttal allowed.
    On 9/28/11, editors ran an op-ed calling an elected governor a “big ape.”  No rebuttal allowed.
    On 2/19/12, editors ran an article in which the writer saw fit to refer to some people as “crackers.”  No rebuttal allowed.
    Editorial page editors and other editors embrace name-calling, and they do it in public all the time. No rebuttal allowed.

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