About the company formerly known as Blackwater: Is a bad name the same as a bad reputation? Let's face it, the name Blackwater was a massive public relations mistake from the start. Not only a nickname for the Great Dismal Swamp in North Carolina, it also means water laced with feces. But the name worked in one respect: It attracted disenchanted gun slingers and neo-con opportunists like flies. Now it seems Blackwater considers itself to be an innocent bystander, not responsible for ruthless slaughters and missteps in Iraq, Potrero, Otay Mesa and now Southwestern College. The organization thinks the national focus of attention is completely unwarranted. Apparently, its logic is that their problems amount to choosing the wrong name. Fix that, and PR problems will disappear, it reasons. Unfortunately, it chooses a ridiculous name, Xe, Inc., which will require the statement, “pronounced Zee, Inc., the company formerly known as Blackwater,” each time it is mentioned. Homophonous with Zee, a company famous for toilet paper, it seems owner Erik Prince continues to be obsessed with such bathroom talk. I wonder how much its rebranding consultants were paid for this new mistake. San Diegans, after kicking Blackwater out of Potrero, also know of Blackwater's many false identities – like Southwest Law Enforcement and Raven Development – were used to avoid detection as it set up its 61,000-square-foot Otay Mesa warfare training facility. One more alias isn't going to confuse anyone. Perhaps Prince should take some tips for gaining obscurity from “The Artist Formerly Known as Prince” who changed his identity to the unpronounceable “love symbol number two.” The name change will likely provide no PR benefit – as citizens are only reminded of Blackwater subterfuge whenever it is used. Only with the abolishment of such firms – firms based on Bush-era war profiteering – will the scourge be eliminated. Reputation is more than a name. RAYMOND LUTZ
Lutz, a candidate for the 77th Assembly District last year, operates the Web site Stop Blackwater.net.