August 22, 2003
Another misstep for Sanchez

What the heck is going on with Orlando Sanchez? Has he forgotten how to act like a politician? I don't know what else to make of this story, in which Sanchez denied knowledge of an incident for which he'd already apologized, with the person he'd apologized to being in the room when he said it.

Mayoral candidate Orlando Sanchez falsely claimed during a forum sponsored by a police union that he was unaware his campaign adviser had dismissed the importance of the event using crude language, the union head said Thursday.

Houston Police Officers Union President Hans Marticiuc said Sanchez twice had apologized to him for the adviser's remark before denying knowledge of it at the forum Wednesday.

"I don't know why he denied it," Marticiuc said. "I would say that (what Sanchez said) is not correct.

"I was surprised that he would say that, with me in the room here."

Sanchez acknowledged Thursday that he had apologized to Marticiuc, but stood by what he said at the union's mayoral forum.

The exchange at issue came during a portion of the forum in which the candidates questioned each other, and Sanchez was responding to questions from fellow mayoral candidate Michael Berry.

Sanchez said he denied what he interpreted as a suggestion by Berry that Sanchez was not loyal to the police.

"I had no idea what the heck he (Berry) was talking about," Sanchez said.


Marticiuc said he learned last week through union political consultant Joe Householder that Sanchez campaign adviser Dave Walden had said Sanchez would not attend the debate. Marticiuc said he was told that Walden laced his remarks with a vulgarity directed toward the union boss.

Marticiuc said Walden made the comment while Walden and Householder were at a local bar Aug. 13.

Marticiuc said Sanchez called him from Los Angeles the next day to discuss the matter and apologize. Then on Wednesday, hours before the debate, Sanchez again called to apologize and to say he would attend.

Walden said he also apologized to Marticiuc Wednesday, and that the comments he made to Householder were in jest.

Householder -- the campaign spokesman for Brown in the 2001 runoff -- helped the union stage the Wednesday debate that will be broadcast on local radio stations this weekend.

During the debate, Berry twice asked Sanchez about the remarks.

"Mr Sanchez, within the past week, your highest-ranking campaign official, your campaign manager, your top consultant, commented to an HPOU official in very disrespectful terms that you would not be here this evening, that you held the HPOU in very low esteem and that you thought very little of him, to say the very least," Berry said in one exchange.

"Is that comment indicative of your relationship with HPOU, and is that what will characterize your administration were you elected mayor?"

Sanchez replied, "Mr. Berry, I am not a party to that conversation, so I don't know what you're talking about. I am here tonight and do respect the men and women in blue."

Berry then attacked Sanchez for not being accountable for the remarks of his campaign staff.

"I hope that's not the kind of leadership we could expect out of your administration were you elected mayor, because our police officers, frankly, deserve better," Berry said.

Later during the debate, when Berry brought up the incident again, Sanchez said, "Well, Mr. Berry, I guess you spend a lot of time eavesdropping.

"But I have I have no way of knowing what parties are talking about out there if I am not present, so I have no clue what you are talking about or what conversations transpired."

What's there to interpret? Berry specifically mentioned the advisor and the incident. Contrast what Sanchez said to what he very easily could have said: "Sometimes when another person is speaking for you, that person says what he wants to say instead of what you want him to say. That's what happened here, and both Dave Walden and I have apologized to Hans Martuciuc and the HPOU for his unfortunate remarks. Dave was just making a joke, but the business of supporting our police is very serious, and as Mayor I will take it with the seriousness it deserves. Now do you have anything of substance to bring up, or are you going to continue with your usual pattern of using personal attacks in place of discussing real issues?"

Surely if I can think of something like this, a professional politician could do so in his sleep. Why in the world is he blowing it off like that? Not that I'm, you know, sorry to see him implode like this. I'm just amazed by it. I think Sanchez is putting himself in danger of not making the runoff, a scenario I would have laughed at six months ago. He's been completely outhustled by Berry and Bill White, and I think he's lost more voters than he realizes to those campaigns. I really don't understand it.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on August 22, 2003 to Election 2003 | TrackBack