They're public watchdogs, not 'gadflies'

To the editor: The use of "gadfly" as a descriptive unfairly promotes bias against those who criticize lobbied outcomes in government that do not always align with the public interest. ("A Baldwin Park gadfly the mayor would love to swat away," March 30)

Those of us who take the time to research issues and attend hearings to make comments — we watchdogs, critics and researchers — request that The Times correct this practice. Denigrating those who exercise the 1st Amendment right of free speech to expose bad policy, corruption or waste do not merit negative slang.


Better yet, go ahead and use "gadfly," but only if you'll print the words we use at the lectern to describe the politicians who pursue conflicts of interest and abuse their power. Maybe, then, politicians who can't handle the truth will be less ready to limit public speaking to one minute.

Scott Andrews, San Diego


To the editor: You have to read to the last paragraph of this article to find out that the judge agreed with Baldwin Park Mayor Manuel Lozano that "gadfly" Paul Cook was harassing him.

Having spent more than 30 years as a city attorney, I agree there are times when a gadfly can bring an important issue to the fore. But shouting personal political beliefs during a public concert is not that time.

It is appalling that The Times seems to treat Cook's stalking of an elected official and the publishing of his personal information such as his Social Security number lightly. Would you be so soft if the same information were published about your reporters?

Stephanie Scher, Los Angeles

The writer was city attorney for Baldwin Park from 2000-07.


To the editor: Some 40 years ago in my small, native city in another state, I became a regular and irritating gadfly at weekly meetings of the city commission. The mayor, with admirable restraint and diplomacy, handled me without having to use police powers or legal civil action: He appointed me to a local board, the Citizens' Advisory Council.

It was an educational and humbling time for me. I learned the truth of the proverb "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt."

Richard Nagle, Los Angeles

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