Thursday, October 20, 2005 | It never does much good to debate someone who refuses to be responsible for his statements or accountable to the facts. And so it goes with Bruce Henderson. Yet I could not pass up the opportunity to draw your attention to one of the most astonishing pieces of doublespeak that I have ever seen: Mr. Henderson’s response to my column on Monday, published in the Voice of San Diego.

Mr. Henderson’s writing is astonishing for two reasons. First, Mr. Henderson apparently wishes that the ticket guarantee still existed, and that the Chargers’ old lease (with its six triggers and litigation) was still in place. Now, remember, this is the same Mr. Henderson who for years complained about the ticket guarantee and who said publicly that the Chargers’ old lease was a “roadmap to Los Angeles for the team.” Now that the ticket guarantee is gone, though, and the bright lights of the television cameras have flickered on to other San Diego issues, Mr. Henderson has apparently become nostalgic for the good old days of the ticket guarantee. In fact, Mr. Henderson might literally be the only person in San Diego who wishes the ticket guarantee was still in place.

The second reason Mr. Henderson’s writing is so remarkable is that he relentlessly refuses to be accountable for any of his past statements and actions. The parade of horribles that Mr. Henderson predicted for Petco Park has, of course, never occurred, and Mr. Henderson’s unending series of lawsuits all met with the same dismal fate. His prediction at the start of the Citizen’s Task Force process three years ago that the Chargers would soon leave San Diego has, of course, proven to be completely wrong, but is there any chance that Mr. Henderson will he held to his past predictions and promises? Not a chance. And that’s why it is pointless to debate him.

It is worth noting, though, that Mr. Henderson’s most recent screed is riddled with misinformation and claims of knowledge he does not have, both on the old contract and the new proposal. He claims “the devil is in the details,” yet it is clear for anyone who has actually worked on this issue, he speaks of things he knows nothing about. But, that shouldn’t make any difference, we should trust Mr. Henderson because he has been in the press for years, making unsubstantiated claims and, therefore, he is a local celebrity, so he must be an expert, right?

Consider this: Last year I provided a detailed financial analysis, dissecting the old Charger contract year by year over a 30-year period. I demonstrated what a bad position the City was in with regard to that contract. I took the document to City Hall, I made the document public, and asked everyone to make their comments and provide additional information so we could make adjustments to that analysis if anyone thought the numbers were incorrect.

Not one member of the City Council argued with it, and the outside consultants to the City said “We may not agree ‘exactly’ with Mr. Shea’s numbers, but his conclusions are correct.” City Council members told me it was the first time they had ever seen actual numbers for that contract or an explanation of how it worked. Not one member of the public stood up and said, “I think these numbers are incorrect” and provided compelling information that got us to a different or better view of what the old contract meant. And guess what? That includes Mr. Henderson and Mike Aguirre. They were strangely silent at that point in time.

Other than an occasional comment from Mr. Henderson, of course, with no back up or substantiation, there was silence. Mr. Henderson had an opportunity to participate in that public debate but didn’t. Why is that? It is because Mr. Henderson doesn’t do well with facts, those pesky little things. Facts really don’t get the press time that bald-faced assertions made by a familiar face do.

Here is my challenge to Mr. Henderson: If you have an actual case to make, a case that provides important information for San Diego, then lay it out for all to see. Explain the numbers, how they work, where your information comes from, why you make certain conclusions, and so forth. You know, do some actual work and quit shooting your mouth off about things you know little of. If you are an expert on this issue as you try to appear to be, make your case in writing, not in 10-second sound bites.

And Mr. Henderson, when you talk about the “public record” being clear on various issues of the past, the public record is riddled with spurious comments and allegations from you that are no more true today than they were when they were made in the first place. Pointing to one of your old quotes in the newspaper does not make for a correct public record. If you have facts, bring them forward and make your case. Otherwise, now is the time for you to accept that the ticket guarantee is long gone, the old contract was a loser for the City, that the media spotlight now shines elsewhere, and that the people of San Diego are fed up with those – politicians and gadflies alike – who refuse to be accountable for their words or true to the facts.

In other words, go jump in a lake.

Dan Shea is a local businessman who co-founded the Fans, Taxpayers and Business Alliance to sort through the embittered relationship between the city of San Diego and the San Diego Chargers.

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