Wonks R Us

Where Public Policy and Small Business Meet

Justifying Mis-steps (and I don’t mean by Sam Adams)

This weekend,Winston Ross, a Newsweek Reporter, interviewed me about media sensationalism and the Sam Adams story.  He had read my previous blog post and thought I might have some insights to share.  Later in the day, after Sam Adams committed to return to work, I, naively, hoped that we would be able to put the issue to rest and all get back to work ourselves. But apparently I was wrong.

This morning’s editorial in the Oregonian is an inflammatory as anything I have seen in the past week.  This is what the Oregonian has to say: “Adams doesn’t get the final say, however. The community will decide his political fate…”  a statement that I wholeheartedly agree with.  He is an elected official and we, the voting citizens, are the deciding body.  But then they add this to the end of the sentence: “…preferably through a recall election.”  A recall election is not a possibility until he has been in office for 6 months, which is 5 months from now.  Why don’t we all take a deep breath and leave it to those of us who vote.

The editorial then states:

Yet many Portlanders have rallied to Adams’ side, urging him to remain in power. Some are from organizations that have benefited financially and politically from Adams’ presence in City Hall. Some don’t want to land on Adams’ bad side by failing to back him. Others consider Adams’ leadership indispensable and are willing to overlook unprofessional behavior, unethical campaign tactics and perhaps even criminal misconduct if necessary.

Really, this is as inflammatory as it gets.  If any of us rally to Sam’s side, our motives are now suspect.  Excuse me, but I am a business owner, employer, taxpayer, voter and volunteer who contributes both to Portland’s economy and our city’s economic stability.  I chaired the City Club Committee that advocated for reform of a system well on its way to bankrupt the City and damage our bond rating.  In addition, our work was credited BY THE OREGONIAN, as having been the reason that the City caught the overpayments to retirees.

My question to The Oregonian’s editorial board is which category do I fall into?  I have neither benefited financially nor politically from him being in office.  Rather, I have challenged him and the other City Commissioners to do the right thing. I have taken on Adams and his staff enough times on significant issues, that if I had been worried about landing on his bad side, I would have kept my mouth shut a long time ago. Nor do I consider his leadership indispensable.  If I thought his behavior was enough of an issue that he should resign as mayor, wouldn’t you think someone with my history would be leading the charge?

According to the Oregonian: “This was a moment when Portland’s civic community needed to see clearly the difference between right and wrong but failed to do so.”

I disagree.  I see this as a moment when the media chose to over-sensationalize an issue.  An issue that, once given a day or so to process, a majority of voting citizens decided were not worth putting our City, our economy, or ourselves at risk for.

At this point it feels like The Oregonian is trying to justify its original over-reaction.  By continuing to use inflammatory language, exaggerated and unsubstantiated statements, they are trying to win over the remaining few who have apparently not recognized that we, as a city, are ready to move on.  I am very disapointed at the irresponsible behavior of the Oregonian’s editorial board.  Do they really think that insulting their readership while beating a dead horse will increase readership?  That is the only rationale I can think of for their behavior.

Today Sam Adams ges back to work as our mayor.  He does have a lot of work ahead of him as he tries to rebuild the public trust.  I say we should give him an opportunity to do so.  My first step will be cancelling my subscription to The Oregonian and removing OregonLive.com from my bookmarks.

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7 responses to “Justifying Mis-steps (and I don’t mean by Sam Adams)

  1. Pete Forsyth January 26, 2009 at 9:54 am

    Thanks for a very thoughtful evaluation Eva. Perhaps the letter we submitted this morning will catch their attention? Over 150 signatures so far, and counting. Maybe some of your readers want to sign as well?

    Thanks for a great blog — I’m going to try to read more frequently!

    -Pete

  2. Alsymer January 26, 2009 at 10:13 am

    Eva, thank you for bringing some reason to this issue. For as much as I dislike the fact that Adams lied about his relationship, the idea of having the local government disrupted at such a critical time with all this drama is frustrating. Adams made a mistake, admitted it and was willing to come back to work. No one is perfect.

    My hope for Adams is the same as that of my kids when they make a mistake: pick yourself up, dust yourself off and learn from what just happened.

  3. Mark Colman January 26, 2009 at 10:44 am

    I’m boycotting the Oregonian as well. Agree with Alsymer, we all human. We make mistakes. Who are we to judge? Let’s get back to the serious work at hand.

  4. Apple January 26, 2009 at 12:11 pm

    I find the Oregonian’s shenanigans of the past week to be absolutely disgusting. I was already boycotting them and will continue my boycott. It just proves further that they really are not deserving of our readership.

    Your blog post was well-written, and I hope that someone at the Oregonian sees it.

  5. Carye Bye January 26, 2009 at 4:19 pm

    I just posted this on http://www.samisstillmymayor.blogspot.com/
    And thought I should post here too.
    ———————–

    Most of the Oregonian articles were written by Anna Griffin, who on the Oregonian website is referred to as Multnomah County’s Opinion Columnist. She authored the original headline on Jan 20, the rally story, and the Adams stays story for today. Possibly others. She didn’t write the trashy Breedlove tells all, nor am I sure she’s part of of the editorial pieces in the Opinion section, but she must be.

    As a columnist, I don’t understand why she’s been the main reporter for most of the Sam pieces. Even though she has been mostly a reporter, she also had her own opinion piece on Jan 23 titled Sam Adams: He gardens and he works.

    At first I thought it was a supportive article, but as I read it, it got strange. Anna says in middle of the piece, ” I forgot one thing: he gardens and he works. Those are twin refuges of a control freak, a guy who prefers to keep his own company and his own counsel, and as a result has a giant blind spot when it comes to his own behavior.”

    huh – hard workers and people who like to be garden are control freaks.

    The thing with being Mayor of Portland, you aren’t in charge of it all, you have a commissioner team. I remember Potter having problems with this. Along with working in a team, Sam also works with advisory boards with over 50 members.

    If you want to read the full commentary piece go here: http://www.oregonlive.com/news/oregonian/anna_griffin/index.ssf/2009/01/sam_adams_he_gardens_and_he_wo.html

    Anna Griffin’s email is annagriffin@news.oregonian.com

    -Carye Bye

  6. Alex Williams January 30, 2009 at 9:31 pm

    We will discuss the issue at Business Leader NW. I also appreciate your perspective. Perhaps we can talk? Thanks for commenting on the Business Leader NW blog – we look forward to having you part of the event!

  7. Dawne Katzner January 24, 2010 at 10:13 am

    When one studies the issue at hand, i have to agree with your endings. You understandably show knowledge about this topic and i have much to learn after reading your article.Many greetings and i will come back for any further updates.

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