The best part of the whole cursing flap, of course, is the way the U-T originally described it:

Strauss and McGrath exchanged e-mails because Strauss was trying to schedule a meeting with lawyers in Aguirre’s office to comply with an order by Judge Jeffrey Barton.

McGrath responded Dec. 29 with a message that used profanity to say Strauss could perform a sexual act upon himself.

That’s just too funny. Though, I don’t think McGrath was saying the other guy could do anything. I think he was saying the other guy pretty much should do it. You decide.

That’s beside the point. I did get a chance to talk to City Attorney Mike Aguirre today. I’ve got a call in to his opponent.

You’ll remember, it’s pretty clear old Don McGrath, Aguirre’s top deputy, mistakenly sent out his raunchy e-mails to the rival attorneys meaning instead to communicate something to his colleagues.

I don’t care if someone swears in an e-mail to their co-workers. I just don’t. You can all send me as many e-mails about decency and respect as you want but as long as it wasn’t a hostile bit of sexual harassment or something, I just don’t care that Aguirre’s top aide wrote a bad word in an e-mail. That was all that the U-T focused on so I went from that.

Now, what I acknowledged last night was that if the judge had asked Aguirre and his rivals in the pension case to get together and confer on a couple of issues, and if all the city attorney’s staff did was command the other guy to perform a sexual act on himself, then I could understand the uproar.

But that’s not the case, Aguirre said.

He said another deputy city attorney, Dan Bamberg, had ended up giving more appropriate answers to the questions the opposing attorneys were asking.

I talked to Bamberg too. He drew a little picture of what he said had caused the foul e-mail. He said he had forwarded some of the initial messages he received from the opposing counsel to McGrath as “FYIs”. Bamberg said he was wondering how to respond to a couple of points.

McGrath, from his home, didn’t want to think about these things apparently. It was a Friday evening before the holiday. So he wrote that they should tell the opposing lawyer to perform a sexual act upon himself. Then he stupidly sent the e-mail, not to Bamberg, but to the presumed performer of said act.

Obviously that’s not what he should have done.

Despite the errant e-mail, which Aguirre called “inappropriate,” the city attorney insisted that the office had eventually communicated, as much as it could, with the other side. Bamberg exchanged phone calls over the week with opposing attorneys.

Again, I’m trying to get the other side, too, but here was Aguirre’s response to my questions. The employee unions and other groups want Aguirre to go back to the City Council and ask for permission to continue on with his case to roll back the pension benefit levels for a certain class of retired city employees.

In essence, the lawyers want to talk to Aguirre about whether he’s going forward with his case. Aguirre wants to talk, he said, about how the case is going to proceed. Bamberg said he was trading phone messages and e-mails with David Strauss in what amounted to a discussion on these points. Since the two sides are that far apart on the basic presumption of whether they case is even going forward, Aguirre and Bamberg said they have essentially conferred as much as possible.

“There was no attempt to avoid, scuttle, try to diminish the meet-and-confer process with the intervenor,” Bamberg said.

OK, that seems to make sense. Again, if there’s another side to this that demonstrates a much more outrageously uncooperative city attorney, I’ll be glad to lay it out, like I said I would. But then, I’m done with this.


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