City Councilman W. Wilson Goode Jr. lectured the media yesterday for focusing on the work habits of one of his employees instead of his legislative agenda.
Goode's harangue was followed by sharp elbows as he walked from Council's chambers to his office, escorted by a man who blocked and bumped Fox 29 News reporter Claudia Gomez.
The man, identified by sources as Goode's cousin, can be seen on video shouldering the reporter into a metal detector outside Council's chambers and then inserting himself between her and Goode as she tries to ask questions.
At one point, Gomez exclaims: "You just slapped me."
The man, wearing a wide-brimmed fedora and sunglasses, replied: "No I didn't. I put my hand up and you ran into it."
Goode, who kept on walking, later declined to identify the man or comment on the altercation.
Goode has been feuding for more than a week with Fox 29 about his chief legislative aide, Latrice Bryant. The station has aired video several times of Bryant, who is paid $90,000 a year, attending to personal business this summer while logged in as working.
Bryant responded with a head-turning display during Council's session last week, holding up signs accusing Fox 29 of being racist and another reporter of being affiliated with the KKK.
Goode has said that he learned of problems with how his staff filled out their daily work time sheets and corrected them.
Yesterday, he chided reporters for not focusing on his legislative agenda. Goode also repeatedly complained about a lack of diversity in the local media. He never mentioned Bryant, who was not present in Council's session.
"Many black elected officials would never admit this, but the lack of diversity in the press is a major issue for us," Goode said in a Council speech. "In fact, many don't feel that the freedom of speech applies equally to them."
Goode said that he supports the media, even when it tells stories he considers to be "inaccurate" or "misleading on purpose" or "simple petty politics."
He resolutely vowed to "not allow anyone else to judge me or impose their values on me or tell me what to do in my office."
It was unclear who Goode was talking about.
Council President Anna Verna called Bryant's actions wrong but added that only Goode could discipline his employees.
Councilman Darrell Clarke last year pushed into law legislation to prevent any signs of "racial animus" in work places. He declined to express an opinion yesterday about Bryant's actions.
"That is a fight between Fox 29 and Wilson Goode," he said. "I do not want to be in the middle of that."
Clarke referred questions about whether Bryant's actions violated the new law to City Solicitor Shelley Smith and the District Attorney's Office.
Smith, through her chief deputy, declined to comment.
"This does not seem to be a case that has prosecutorial merit," said Cathie Abookire, a spokeswoman for District Attorney Lynne Abraham.
The city's Commission on Human Relations has also taken no action on Bryant's Council signs.