San Diego gay newspaper publisher commits suicide
San Diego Union-Tribune is reporting that the former publisher of San Diego’s Gay & Lesbian Times, Michael Portantino, committed suicide Wednesday night.
The newspaper, San Diego’s oldest gay and lesbian print publication, was forced to close in October after a series of business reversals.
The Union-Tribune reports that friends said the 52-year old Mr. Portantino was "devastated" by the paper’s closure.
His brother, Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge), has represented the 44th Assembly district since 2006.
The Portantino family released a statement Thursday that read, in part, "As a father, brother and son, he valued his family and friends. He made us laugh, he made us think and sometimes he even made us angry as he challenged us all to live our lives to their fullest potential and with absolute commitment to one another for the betterment of our neighborhoods, communities and country..."
San Francisco assembly member Tom Ammiano, chair of the Legislative Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) Caucus, said in a statement he was, "a strong voice for LGBT rights not only in San Diego, but throughout California."
In May, 2010, the Gay & Lesbian Times came under scrutiny for allegedly "misleading its advertisers with false circulation numbers and racking up debt," according to the San Diego Gay & Lesbian News (SDGLN.com).
That paper reported that the publication "claims it prints 15,700 newsmagazines weekly, but printing invoices show it has scaled back to 9,000 copies weekly."
The account described a deepening morass of debt from unpaid printing bills and a federal tax lien leading to the paper’s eviction from its offices.