Tuesday, April 1, 2008 | As one of the other District 3 candidates, out of an abundance of caution, and out of respect for John Hartley, I have refrained from speaking about the issue of his arrest until now. But two things are going on here, so I feel it is appropriate for me to now speak: First, Mr. Hartley, as is his right, has not spoken publicly with his version of what happened. Second, some of the comments on here have ranged from being “conspiratorial” to being simply just silly.

It is my own personal opinion that Mr. Hartley does a lot of harm to himself, both personally and politically, by not making a public statement. As I said, he does not have to make a public statement, but I believe he should. The longer he goes without directly addressing the very serious allegations against him, the more it becomes a matter of “perception is reality” in the minds of voters and citizens in District 3. Mr. Hartley only stands to lose, irredeemably, the longer he remains silent.

There were two allegations made against Mr. Hartley: public urination and masturbation in public. If it is true that he urinated inside of his vehicle, in what he thought was a discreet manner, he should come out and say so, and apologize. I believe District 3 citizens would forgive him for such an indiscretion. Mr. Hartley is well-known to spend hours walking the neighborhoods of District 3, speaking to citizens and prospective supporters. It is not unreasonable to think that he might have found himself in a position where he urgently needed to urinate, and could not wait to find a more appropriate location. Who among us has not found his or herself in such a situation?

If the more serious charge of masturbation in public is true, then I believe that Mr. Hartley has no choice but to formally withdraw from the race, and seek the professional, mental health assistance that such a person clearly needs. There is no reasonable justification or simple apology that would mitigate such a grave offense, if it is true.

But, whatever the entirety of the circumstances are, I would strongly encourage John Hartley to go on the record and provide some answers and clarification to what he is alleged to have done. If not (and again, he does not have to), his future as a public servant is over.

Robert E. Lee is a candidate for San Diego City Council, District 3.

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