Former City Attorney Michael Aguirre and his former Union-Tribune nemesis Bob Kittle have apparently buried the hatchet, and this time not in each other’s backs.
The former archenemies were forced to make nice when cast by KUSI news as political analysts on election broadcasts.
Aguirre has become introspective about his time in office and his ouster and even empathizes with Kittle, who regularly excoriated Aguirre on the editorial pages of the U-T for years before the newspaperman was laid off in March.
“I said to Bob, ‘OK, Kittle and Aguirre, Chapter 2,’ because we’re both in exactly the same spot, we’ve been completely rejected and found wanting, and both of us thought we were so big, nothing could take us down,” Aguirre said recently. “First we were giants, now we are Pygmies. It’s the worst possible thing that could happen, to have no one really care what either one of us thinks.”
Aguirre said he imagines that since leaving the paper, Kittle may feel like a cop who goes to prison, stripped of power and respect and thrown in the mix with the very people he attacked, no longer insulated.
But the former city attorney who’d passionately pursued his heart’s desire to be an elected official, and to be the rare one who managed to do the right thing and change lives for the better, says he’s is over the profound disappointment of his 2008 reelection loss.
“For me, basically, the man of the people was found wanting by the people. As time passes, a lot of the heaviness is gone and you laugh at yourself.”
Kittle, now director of news planning and content at the locally owned television station, said he never felt personal animosity for Aguirre. In fact, Kittle noted that he and the editorial board endorsed Aguirre in his first run for city attorney in 2004, and supported most of his moves his first year in office before things got ugly. That was unusual since Aguirre is a liberal Democrat and Kittle is a conservative Republican.
“There were some personality clashes at times, I will admit,” Kittle said. “Certainly in my memory it was all about policy. He and I both sort of like to spar about ideas, and we do agree on a number of things, first and foremost the need to reduce the pension benefits.”
For their first appearance on KUSI together for a pre-election one-hour special, Kittle said he made sure to check in with Aguirre in the green room to test the waters and make sure there would be no tension on the air. It was all very friendly, with intellectual debate and polite disagreement during the segment, both said.
It’s all water under the bridge now, Kittle said.
“It astounds me that anybody cares about Aguirre and me,” Kittle said, laughing. He said he heard about a photo of him and Aguirre together posted by us along with a photo caption contest. He said he never checked it out. Aguirre said it was funny.
“Anybody who lives in the public arena as Aguirre did and as I did as a journalist, if you have any brains at all, learn to forget about past battles, and if you see someone later you don’t hold grudges,” Kittle said. “I’d be miserable if I remembered every bad thing that was said about me by Aguirre or someone else. Probably Aguirre and I sort of resumed a friendly relationship on election night because we both put behind us the old battles.”
If you want to get a better idea of their more colorful battles, check out this story from when Kittle left the newspaper.
— KELLY THORNTON