Tastie Fish had planned to interview New Haven Mayoral canididate Marcus Paca ahead of the election 2 weeks from now that will pit the life long New Havener Paca against the incumbent Mayor Toni Harp.
It was our goal to present both canididates to the concerned voters in the same manner any objective news outlet would before such an important election.
Our intentions were to inform the public as best we can, nothing more than that.
So excuse us if we are slightly surprised by the behavior of Mayoral canididate Marcus Paca, who ripped into this magazine this afternoon during one of the more heated phone calls our newsroom has seen since the inception of this publication.
Marcus Paca lives and breathes New Haven, has been involved in politics since he was 13 years old, the man has a deep passion for the advancement of the city.
Marcus Paca has a vision for New Haven, and America.
Here is a passage from his website
“I am running for Mayor of the City of New Haven because we must prepare our children for productive lives, but also inspire them to maintain lifelong residency in New Haven. To create this virtuous cycle where residents succeed and then reinvest in their communities, we have to strengthen our public schools, spur economic growth, and maintain safe and supportive neighborhoods. We have to improve the livability of the city today by lowering taxes; creating jobs; reducing crime; and providing pathways and support systems for the homeless, veterans, elderly and other vulnerable residents.
I believe that most New Haveners share my progressive aspirations for this great city. However far too many have disengaged from civic participation because they have been disappointed in city politics. They have grown accustomed to politicians whose rhetoric outweighs their actions. They have learned to expect spin rather than truth from their elected officials.
Many have implicitly accepted that “open,” “inclusive,” “collaborative” and “ethical” are simply buzzwords because most decisions are made behind closed doors where only a few, powerful voices matter and self-interests go unchecked. New Haveners have the right to demand more from our leaders.”
We reached out to Marcus Paca this morning in the interest of scheduling an interview.
He got back to us a short time later and after a pleasent exchange of messages, placed a phone call to our editor to discuss the scheduling of the interview, and other mundane details.
In no way did we expect an angry politician on the other end of the phone when he did call, nor were we prepared to have our journalistic integrity questioned in such a confrontational fashion.
MP: Hello this is Marcus Paca calling about the interview?
TF: Hey Marcus! Thanks so much for calling.
MP: Yes, if you dont mind me asking, what exactly is this for, and what are you planning to do? Why do you want to interview me?
TF: We just want to interview you ahead of the election on camera if possible, we also plan on reaching out to Mayor Harp. No different than a CNN, just run of the mill pre election coverage. I also saw a post on your facebook page that raised some questions, you were claiming that you were using “clean election money”. That raised our interest as well, “what exactly is he trying to say” was something that came to mind. You also have made other claims about the opposition that I wanted to dive into.
MP: Well I have been sitting here looking at your website’s coverage of the election, and it’s all Mayor Harp. All your coverage is about Mayor Harp, I am looking at articles going back to Febuary, overwhelming coverage for Mayor Harp. Mayor Harp this, Mayor Harp that. Campaign related announcements, the local union endorsing her, all of this coverage for one side of the election. We work hard, and there is no coverage of it.
TF: Well she is the Mayor, she presides over the city we live in, as a city based outlet we are going to report on the Mayor. Quite often, when her office sends our a press release, we run it, that’s what city desk reporters do. We have not covered the election in depth, which is why we wanted to run a story on you and her in succession. There really is not much more to it than that.
MP: Let me ask you a question, why is there no articles about me, about my campaign, we have been at this for quite sometime, and two weeks before the election you want to interview me? I have to ask why?
TF: I just explained why.
MP: Not really. Is that what you guys do? Just print press releases? How you even spoken with Mayor Harp? Or do you just print press releases? I have not even heard of you guys
TF: I can assure you we don’t only publish press releases. I have spoken with the Mayor many times, interviewed her on the phone, 1v1 on camera, not sure where your going with that, but you not hearing of us is understood, this magazine is just over a year old
MP: Well news reporters have been popping up here and there, and often, they have direct ties to the opposition and usually they want something from me. I see all these articles, and I think about the fact that we have not gotten one story. I appreciate you efforts, but I am going to have to pass on the interview because of the lack of coverage, it’s a little too late now.
TF: What? Look, you being upset is fine, but it seems to me that your making this personal. I am coming at it from a professional angle, is it really advisable to refuse exposure when your running for public office? This all seems petty to me if you consider the big picture. If you mean to tell me that there is reporters out there that are running hit pieces on you at the behest of the Mayor, name them, tell me who they are, we will write about it.
At that point the phone went dead.
It was assumed that Mr. Paca had hung up the phone, that was until he sent our editor a somewhat condescending Facebook message roughly 10 minutes later.
“Hopefully your story will have the same exclusively positive bent your publication has given all the coverage of Toni Harp. There is ample material on my campaign website to write such a story, quote me, and expose your readers to my candidacy”
Marcus Paca from all accounts is a good man, a community leader, a citizen worthy of public office.
Many people believe in this contender, and with good reason, he could do some special things in the Elm city if elected.
That does not give him the right to ambush this magazine with preposterous allegations while dumping his insecurties about the election cycle on a group of honest reporters that just wanted to cover him.
Anyone can read his website, we are a news organization, we wanted to publish an exclusive interview that would be far more accessible to voters than scripted passages.
You don’t connect with the people by telling them to go somewhere else, people in New Haven want to hear it from the source, especially if you are asking them to vote for you.
At no point did Tastie Fish have an ulterior motive when seeking out Marcus Paca, we simply wanted to present him to all of you in a positive light.
No preconceived notions, no sandbagging on tap, we were excited to speak with him.
Despite the allegations levied against us this afternoon, Tastie Fish does not have a dog in the race, we just want to see effective governance from our elected leaders.
We want the best possible CEO to run the city.
Politcians beefing with the press is the era we live in, par for the current course, but that does not mean that all of us have to conform to the dynamic.
The relationship between the government and the press is not always a Disney movie, but it also doesn’t have to be unhealthy.
Adversarial journalism is an essential part of our democracy, anyone who says differently is selling something.
There is honest politicans out there believe it or not, as well as ethical journalists who write to serve the public, not themselves.
It’s irresponsible to paint a broad brush in any siuation.
The pomp and circumstance this afternoon illustrates how much of a threat to the press the current political climate is, the responsibility of keeping the public in the loop has become much more complicated than in years past.
It’s a threat to our political system, the American way of life, reporters should not have to play tennis over political affiliation just to inform the citizens that will be voting.
An election is public relations before anything, so demonizing those that wish to present you to the public is not going to help you at the voters box, neither will stories like this.
It’s bigger than personal battles when it comes to public office, an alternative approach could be construed as myopic.
As for Mr. Paca’s ridiculous appraisal of this magazine’s commitment to objective reporting, his pointed criticism of our city coverage, and his stubborn refusal to explain allegations he has levied against Mayor Harp.
That’s his opinion, he is entitled too it, but leadership is being accountable to the voters, to the people.
If you are going to make sensational statements on social media, and endorse certain journalism, at some point people are going to want you to explain why.
That’s what we want from a Mayor, a champion who will stand up, face the music, and do so with class.
Some of our coverage has certainly angered city hall, Tastie Fish has been subject to plenty of side bars with government officials over articles we have published, or stories we are investigating.
Anyone who reads this magazine would have trouble arguing that we only publish by golly gosh tales.
Try telling that to the extraordinary young woman who published a critical open letter to Mayor Harp directly on this site that questioned the rampant sexual harrassment in the city.
Try telling that to the director of Traffic and Transportation, or Officer David Hartman.
The soul of city is at stake, and Tastie Fish is quibbling about our political affiliations with a man who could very well win stewardship over New Haven
This is all mystifying because Mr. Paca wants to lead us, unite us, his ability to do that is now going to be questioned because he could not swallow his pride, and answer some tough questions.
We understand his anger over the fact that Mayor Harp has extensive resources, high profile endorsements, and a vaunted political track record going back over 20 years.
That’s a tough hill to climb politically, but there is people in this city that believe Marcus Paca can do it.
The thousands of New Haveners that traffic our pages will never know it because he is refusing to speak to us on principle.
That’s on him, not this magazine.
If does not want us to interview him, if he feels our magazine is involved in some half baked conspiracy to destroy his campaign, if he truly belives we were out to hurt him today.
To learn more about Marcus Paca, and his highly successful campaign, feel free to follow this link.