Facebook drew resounding cheers by booting serial fabulist Donald Trump. But it remains a site of ferocious politicking, much of it done locally, anonymously and recklessly.

Jay Baker, whoever he or she may be, doesn’t think much of Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber. Facebook is Baker’s daily forum to pummel Webber by any means, fair and unfair.

Webber distributed a windy campaign letter praising the American labor movement on International Workers’ Day. Baker responded by pointing out the city’s largest employee union considers Webber an enemy of rank-and-file workers. Its members voted no confidence in the mayor.

Then Webber’s administration supplied incorrect nominating petitions to certain candidates for public office. Signatures the candidates obtained were worthless. Baker called the blunder another example of Webber’s incompetence.

Facts don’t always matter to Baker. He or she also will use innuendo to attack Webber.

A Republican, Alexis Martinez Johnson, recently entered the nonpartisan race for mayor. Until then, Webber’s only challenger was a fellow Democrat, City Councilor JoAnne Vigil Coppler.

Baker went on Facebook and publicly accused two of Webber’s allies of arranging for the Republican to join the race “so they could attempt to lump both female Hispanic candidates together.”

I wrote Baker and asked for his proof that Webber’s camp had somehow lured a second woman into the mayoral election.

“No proof. Just conversations I overheard,” Baker wrote in reply.

That sums up the ugly world of Facebook politicking. Speculative gossip can be packaged as truth.

Before the pandemic and all the lockdowns, Baker declined an invitation to meet me for a column I was writing. Baker wants to be a mystery person for as long as possible.

Webber doesn’t respond to Baker on Facebook, but the mayor gave me an assessment of his detractor.

“If ‘Jay Baker’ is a pseudonym, then they should have the courage to stand behind their hateful posts and city grievances and not cower under the cover of social media, like so many of Trump’s supporters do,” Webber said. “The divisive rhetoric espoused by this individual is exactly what has poisoned our politics and what is dividing our city.”

Baker and others level the same charge against Webber.

“I don’t think that the [Plaza] obelisk destruction is an issue that people care about most,” Baker wrote to me. “Rather, people care about the fact that there was zero transparency when the obelisk was first damaged by a city contractor and crew in the dead of night without any public notice or public input.”

Baker probably is a city employee, given the wealth of fact and dirt he or she dishes about Webber and his department heads.

Using a hidden identity is a matter of survival, according to Baker.

“None of us feel safe or have job security by speaking out internally,” Baker wrote.

One of Baker’s more persistent criticisms of Webber dates to 1975. At the time, Webber was a speechwriter and aide to Neil Goldschmidt, then the 35-year-old mayor of Portland, Ore.

Goldschmidt was regularly having sex with a 14-year-old girl in a hotel and in homes, but his crimes did not become known to the public for decades. Webber says he knew nothing about Goldschmidt’s abuse of the girl until a weekly newspaper broke the story in 2004.

Webber, though, wrote a blog in 2008 in which he described Goldschmidt as “brilliant, a meteor shooting into the sky, mayor of a major city in his early 30s, a man of enormous charisma. But I believe that he felt somehow in over his head, too high up too fast, too far out of his safety zone. If you’ve climbed out on a limb that is more than you can handle and you’re a very public person, how do you end the suspense? You saw the limb off yourself, you bring yourself down.”

It was a bizarre description of a child molester. Webber would later say he should have called Goldschmidt’s conduct what it was — criminal.

Baker has made Goldschmidt’s late victim the subject of many Facebook postings about Webber.

Goldschmidt is a sore subject with Webber.

“I am sure Baker is grinning with glee that he got you to write about Neil Goldschmidt again, which you wrote about in a column almost exactly one year ago and which has been covered extensively in the media since I ran for governor seven years ago,” Webber wrote to me Tuesday.

I informed the mayor that no one tells me what to write. I’m equally sure no one told Webber to write sympathetically about Goldschmidt before Webber ran for public office.

Baker is hitting Webber hard with whatever might sway voters. There’s an odd aspect of the animosity between them.

They’re friends on Facebook. To paraphrase The Godfather, maybe the social media site keeps friends close and enemies closer.

Ringside Seat is an opinion column about people, politics and news. Contact Milan Simonich at msimonich@sfnmexican.com or 505-986-3080.

(25) comments

Devin Bent

I have my own mixed feelings about Jay Baker. However, the mixture of fact and fiction is hardly unique to Facebook; nor is it uniquely facilitated by anonymity. We have an entire political party dedicated to the fiction that Trump won the election and thus who push this lie are quite open about who they are.

Moreover, our local media in its feeding frenzy, cited two anonymous sources who accused Carl Trujillo. Yet these two anonymous sources never appeared and still today we do not know if they exist. Moreover our local media cited junk science about lie detectors from an old article in a popular journal, while ignoring solid and more recent scientific research that could easily be found by Google search.

So the pot accuses the kettle once more.

Richard Reinders

Lets be fair and add there is no crisis at the border, federal unemployment is not creating hiring problems and I am the one to work with both sides of the isle. Lying is a prerequisite for political office. And IMO the two anonymous sources were Egolf and Egolf. Carl was calling for to much transparency and would have exposed the Santa Fe Mob.

Lee Vigil

Too many instances in which Webber has been caught lying. Unapologetically and shamelessly. Trump. Webber. Neither deserve to be in office.

Stefanie Beninato

MY thumbs up is for Eliz Pettus--not David Brown's off the wall, unsupported comment.

Chris Mechels

In fact Webber has done a very good job of avoiding the molestation of Elizabeth Dunham by Goldschmidt. Webber was doing the PR for Neil and was very close to him. If he wasn't aware of affair, it was by intent, as it was quite well known.

Webber also puts himself forward as a great manager, citing "Fast Company". In fact the two brilliant managers responsible for Fast Company were Bill Taylor and Morty Zuckerman. Webber, then as now, was the PR guy, not the management type.

The timing of Webber's run for governor is interesting, as it came after the 2011 death of Elizabeth Dunham, who could have killed his pretentions, as she ended the political career of Goldschmidt. https://www.cjr.org/the_feature/the_big_daily_that_could_and_the_little_paper_that_did.php It would seem appropriate to question Webber in detail on the Dunham case, as it seems a real Tar Baby he's trying to avoid.

BTW, Webber got to the Harvard Business Review, where he an Taylor worked together, because of Goldschmidt. Goldschmidt "made" Webber, in more ways than one. Webber is simply a PR guy, who got lucky. Good writer though.

Khal Spencer

Are you suggesting a Sgt. Schultz Syndrome, Chris?

Paul White

Milan, “No proof. Just conversations I overheard,” is pretty much how you went about crucifying Carl Trujillo.

Paul White

Mayor Webber was dismissive of my comments and recommendations regarding his support of the Red Light speed trap cameras. When I recently brought up how he was dismissive I felt that in his reply that he sincerely apologized. He is willing to meet with us regarding our concerns about the wastewater being dumped in the Rio Grande which he and staff support. We are advocating for it to be cleaned up and reused at the filtration plant which would be the right thing to do. I have been critical of the Mayor but have to say that he does return my emails and is willing to engage in conversation. We are hoping he will seriously consider our concerns and proposals when we meet and that it isn't just for show.

Russell Scanlon

Politics is show business for ugly people with hidden agendas. People who are actually experienced and qualified don’t have a chance against the carny barkers and shills for the NRA and marionettes for the Koch brothers. We are doomed by our own greed, short attention span, and rampant stupidity.

Have a nice day.

Khal Spencer

I agreed with you until you got where you turned a blind eye to Democrats. Carl Trujillo was stabbed in the back by his own party leadership. Back when I lived in Los Alamos, some of the most shrill and dishonest mailings I got were from Progressive dark money causes. In politics, there are no rules against low blows.

I have to laugh. One thing about NRA TV was that it was so bad it was comical.

Everybody throws mud. As you say, its show business for ugly people. I've been a registered Democrat since I was in college and I always intend to hold my own party's feet to the fire too.

Richard Reinders

[thumbup]

David Brown

To Alan Webber: You wrote a book in 2009 ‘ Rules of Thumb: 52 Truths for Winning at Business Without Losing Your Self’ that contains 5 abject arse licking paragraphs of praise for Neil Goldschmidt your mentor who raped a 13 year old girl for 5 years. She became a drug addict and committed suicide. You knew nothing? You have removed your book from the Kindle Wondering why?

Richard Reinders

Probably because Rule of Thumb is so demeaning to Woman, the rule of thumb was you could only beat your wife with a stick no larger than the diameter of your thumb.

Khal Spencer

Someone wrote an almost identical comment to the "Baker went on Facebook and publicly accused two of Webber’s allies of arranging for the Republican to join the race..." screed under what was probably a pseudonym. Elizabeth Pettus has it nailed: we should take stuff sent in under a pseudonym with an unusually large sack of salt unless it is clearly and factually documented.

As far as L'affair Goldschmidt? Snooze. I'd give the Mayor the benefit of the doubt. I once advocated enthusiastically for a person when I was on a search committee. I later had to assist in applying a vigorous Order of the Boot to the same person. Sometimes we really don't know as much as we think we do about people, especially if they are in some ways that meteor flashing across the sky. Only later do we see the clay feet.

Elizabeth Pettus

There are several trolls on FB with obviously fake identities, as there are on the New Mexican comments sections. They all violate the letter and spirit of guidelines and are cowards. If you cannot be honest about who you are (and I am not referring to whistleblowers who have genuine fear) then you needn’t hit “post comment”. We should all be skeptical about the motives of those who skulk in the metaphorical darkness of anonymity, attacking without proof, responsibility, or respect for others.

David Brown

He might fear an ugly endless up the snout IRS audit. That is what people like Webber have done to their opponents.

Stefanie Beninato

[thumbup][thumbup][thumbup]

LeRoy Sanchez

So true! Thanks!

Dan Frazier

This is the first I have heard of the Goldschmidt affair, or Jay Baker. While the Goldschmidt case is interesting, it does not seem especially relevant. Not only did it happen nearly 50 years ago, but there is no evidence that Webber was aware of the situation. Meanwhile, there is plenty of more recent dirt on Webber to focus on. I would say mentioning the Goldschmidt case about once a year in a column seems reasonable, especially if somebody in the community keeps bringing it up.

Richard Reinders

Webber was aware of the Goldschmidt situation with the 14 year old in 2004 but praised Goldschmidt in 2008 as the article says so he was aware as was the world in 2004.

“Webber says he knew nothing about Goldschmidt’s abuse of the girl until a weekly newspaper broke the story in 2004.

Webber, though, wrote a blog in 2008 in which he described Goldschmidt as “brilliant, a meteor shooting into the sky, mayor of a major city in his early 30s, a man of enormous charisma”

Craig Meyer

I was a young man in Portland during the Goldschmidt years and I would describe Goldschmidt the same way. He changed and revitalized Portland in so many ways. When he became governor his supporters, like me, thought he was on his way to becoming the first Jewish president. When the revelations of his pedophilia and abuse of a young girl came out it was devastating. Unbelievable really. Turned out he was a monster but I haven't forgotten how great Portland was during his time there. It's possible to hold both thoughts in your head at the same time. True sadness all around.

Khal Spencer

Well said, Craig.

Stefanie Beninato

Great line--it is possible to hold two both thoughts in your head at the same time.

David Brown

A four year rape of a child for you is a sad thing? What is murder then? A mere trifle?

Chris Mechels

It is interesting that Webber waited until after Dunham's death in 2011 to enter the NM political fray. Dunham, in an interview, said she thought Webber knew what was going on, and he was Neil's PR guy, so involved in damage control. It raises the question of Webber's story of Webber, which is a contrivance. The Great Man, who in fact has little management background, but a lust for power.

Welcome to the discussion.

Thank you for joining the conversation on Santafenewmexican.com. Please familiarize yourself with the community guidelines. Avoid personal attacks: Lively, vigorous conversation is welcomed and encouraged, insults, name-calling and other personal attacks are not. No commercial peddling: Promotions of commercial goods and services are inappropriate to the purposes of this forum and can be removed. Respect copyrights: Post citations to sources appropriate to support your arguments, but refrain from posting entire copyrighted pieces. Be yourself: Accounts suspected of using fake identities can be removed from the forum.