Here’s how the Portland Mercury Editorial Board interview process unfolded:
Step 1: I received this invitation:
Date: Fri, 21 Mar 2008 18:12:32 -0700
From: Jonathan Shapiro"
Subject: Portland Mercury Interview for Endorsement Issue
We basically just want to sit down for an hour with the candidates in our conference room and ask questions.
Our office is 605 NE 21st, Ste. 200.
We're shooting for April 4 at 11am
Let us know if that works for you.
Thanks, Jonathan Shapiro, cell: 561 427 4466
Step 2: I replied that I would be there, giddy with excitement and the aforementioned anticipation.
Step 3: I identified who the Portland Mercury Editorial Board is from their website, where their high endorsement standards are proclaimed:
“The Portland Mercury's editorial board is Wm. Steven Humphrey, Amy J. Ruiz, Matt Davis, and Jonathan Shapiro. We do not make endorsements in uncontested races, or spill much ink on U.S. Representative or Metro councilor races where incumbents face weak challengers.”
Step 4: I thought to myself, “This interview should be very interesting”. After all, Amy Ruiz and Matt Davis were all over the Interstate Renaming Committee issue, may even have access to the Committee’s secret Membership List, and they know that my opponent and I are on the record on opposite sides of the controversy.
My opponent strenuously insisted on renaming Interstate Avenue, even though no part of the area is near Senate District 23, the district she seeks to represent, or House District 45, the district she was representing at the time.
Here’s the link: http://www.cesarechavezboulevard.com/letters.pdf
I opposed the renaming, in part because it is in a different part of town than Senate District 23, and I wanted to find a way to honor my Mexican American Chicano hero Cesar Chavez over here.
In fact, I wrote extensively about the utter incompetence of all parties involved, about their failings in both cultural awareness and public process, a series of commentaries called “Teachable Moments.”
Earned me a lot of enmity from the secret membership of the Interstate Renaming Committee, which has to this very day only revealed the identities of its two co-chairs.
Surely, the Portland Mercury Editorial Board would want to tear into this, get the opposing candidates talking about an issue that is still out there, yet to be resolved.
Step 5: I approached the Portland Mercury offices at the stated hour, and spotted Editorial Board Member Matt Davis loitering outside, leaning against the building, smoking a cigarette.
He put the cigarette out and told me that they had rescheduled the glorious event for the following week, April 11 at 10:00 a.m.
They hadn't gotten around to notifying me of the change.
Step 6: Some days later, I received a phone call from the Portland Mercury, with apologies that their Editorial Board consists of some Very Busy People, and asking if I could endure yet another week of raptureless waiting, perhaps to April 18, at 1:00 in the afternoon.
Step 7: I arrived at the Portland Mercury on April 18, and waited for the Very Busy People on the Portland Mercury Editorial Board to assemble themselves so we could go forth into the interview room and what lay beyond.
WHAT LAY BEYOND:
That’s what lay beyond, Matt Davis, a man who has probably never seen the state capitol or voted in an American election.
Matt Davis, who weeks earlier couldn't take the time to interview me because he was holding the building up.
No Editorial Board that took three weeks to assemble, but Matt Davis, a man singularly unqualified for the task, was going to represent the entire Portland Mercury Editorial Board, which was then going to represent to its readers that some thought and actual research had gone into its deliberations.
We conversed for an hour, my opponent reading from her scripts, Matt Davis and me in a small interview room with no one else present.
I didn’t bring up the Interstate issue myself, in part because I was in shock, having waited three weeks to meet the Portland Mercury Editorial Board, and here is nothing but Matt Davis.
Matt Davis was too lazy to listen to his own recording of the interview, and if he still has it, he might listen to it for just one time, because I never said a fucking thing about ending the war.
What I said was that we needed to care for the people who are fighting it and for their families, and that is definitely on the tape.
Here’s what the Portland Mercury printed, representing that it was the position of the entire Editorial Board, and maybe it is, but they were not there and probably never heard the tape of the interview:
“In senate District 23, Sean Cruz, former legislative aide to Avel Gordly, has been running on an anti-war platform. We couldn't agree more that the war is a bad thing, but it's not necessarily within Cruz's prospective remit to bring it to a conclusion (and the guy couldn't even get his act together to submit a statement for the voters' pamphlet). Meanwhile, his opponent Jackie Dingfelder has the experience of representing her neighborhood on a wide variety of issues, thanks to her past role in the house, a seat she vacated to run for the senate. She wants to upgrade and replace Oregon's aging schools and reduce Oregon's greenhouse gas emissions to 75 percent below 1990 levels in the next few decades. Vote for her.”
The value of a Matt Davis endorsement…is a popcorn fart in the wind.