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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

This time, they may win a Puke-itzer

Call us crazy, but we have a theory: Willamette Week really, really doesn't want Eileen Brady to be the next mayor of Portland. We're not sure why that is, but whatever the motive, the Wednesday wonders are pounding on Brady relentlessly, pausing only for the latest bong news.

Here's Nigel's latest slap: New Seasons doesn't want its workers to unionize. And it's all Brady's fault! Last week her problem was that she really had nothing to do with starting up New Seasons; this week the problem is that she was the ruthless mastermind behind allegedly illegal labor practices by the company. She's bad either way -- so you're supposed to vote for Jeffy, apparently.

They keep digging up unflattering stories about Brady, but to us, the overall effect is praising her with faint damn. She didn't vote in Oregon while denying that she owed Oregon resident taxes, as one of her opponents did. And she didn't blow off court appearances, drive on a suspended license, run a shadowy network of political organizations, or sleepwalk her way through a year and a half at a job she had no interest in. Therefore, although she's not worthy of our vote, she's a darn sight better than either of the other two major face cards in the race.

Comments (12)

I think the subtext is that Jefferson Smith should be our next president--never mind mayor. Has there ever been a more WW public figure than him--young, arrogant, self-aggrandizing, and smart-this-and-that? It's actually kind of funny to think about how much he personifies WW.

They did break the news about Hales' shifting Oregon/Washington residency claims. But I suppose that and the absence of any comparable muckraking of Smith's background only reinforces the point that they've got a crush on Smith. A lot of young, liberal, hipster types are really smitten with Smith, so I suppose it stands to reason WWeek's young, liberal, hipster staff would be as well.

This may have a much more mundane explanation than we think. Years back, I worked on a weekly newspaper with a very good local writer, and this writer was savaged constantly by the editor of our competitor across town. Not just little digs, but savage, humorless diatribes about how DARE anybody hire said writer. I finally asked him "So how many times did you knock up [editor]'s brother to deserve that sort of treatment?"

His answer was even better. It turned out that he'd been at a party where the editor was introducing himself. That is, he would walk up to people and sneer "You, of course, know who I am, don't you?" If they said "No," "hell, no," or "get out of my face before I puke on your shoes, you pathetic nerd," he went onto The List for life. This writer said "Sorry, but do I know you?", and went to the top of The List. Ten years later, and he was still high enough on The List that the editor was taking weekly potshots at him, for no other reason than being unable to pick him out in a lineup among the other pathetic editorial products of our local journalistic pool.

Personally, I suspect that Eileen Brady reminds one of the editors of someone he wanted to date in high school, who laughed in his face and told him to come back when he stopped wearing the "Next Generation" uniform to class. Either that, or Jefferson Smith offered that editor his complete set of mint-on-card "Star Wars" action figures in exchange for an endorsement. Either one, considering WW, makes sense.

What happened to the "Brady is overstating her involvement in the founding of New Seasons" smear?


She says she co-founded New Seasons and says she was in charge of the company's HR for 5-6 years. Additionally, she says she wrote the employee handbook. Yet when it turns out the handbook had a bunch of borderline-illegal anti-union language in it, she all the sudden had nothing to do with it! Which is it? She's trying to have it both ways. Sounds like she's a fraud to me.


You miss the point. She may be a phony. But Jefferson Smith is a bigger phony and WW is leaving him alone (if not actually endorsing him.)

Unions are extremists.

The message I got from the Rohters and HR was, New Seasons wanted to avoid the added layer of union bureaucracy when it comes to disciplinary/hiring/firing functions (it's significant in the grocery world, and probably crippling as a start-up market)... this, despite being (like me) generally pro-union and progressive as voters.

They decided to pay employees "better than union" wages, and provide full benefits to even part-time employees who work only a handful of hours a week. They ensured employees got a staff discount that outstrips most in the industry. They even instituted a "No Layoffs, Ever" policy internally. Every time the unions came knocking, they turned around and basically insinuated they couldn't really make a convincing argument for unionization.

The grocery industry looks at New Seasons with shock that it spends so much more in labor... the stores employ probably 3-7 times more staff than average, around 150-240 people per location, depending on its pace.

The last decade hasn't been kind to locally owned businesses, with buyouts, bankruptcies, mergers, acquisitions, etc. It seems laughable to try to make one of the few big success stories into a toxic connection for Brady to have. There's more than one way to be a friend to labor.

Tuxedo has it right and so does Jack:"She's a darn sight better", but..."she's not worthy of our vote".

That is descriptive of so many of our local races. That is why I'm writing in Jack for mayor. There's no really common sense choice in the mayor's race.

I'm starting to think I might vote for Jefferson Smith just for the comedy.

It is also possible that WW is more familiar with Smith and Hales, as are most of us. Possibly Smith is well known by WW and people who pay attention to these things because he has been working on young voter engagement and social justice issues very actively for ten years as the leader of an organization that has had a lot of success in its mission.

Hales' record of public service is also very well known, and only his past few years are really coming under scrutiny. It is possible that there is just less news there.

For disclosure sake, I worked with Smith and a core of about 20 people to start the Bus Project 10 years ago. I burned out of that level of service after 18 months. He and Caitlin have kept at it for ten years. Although he strikes people as arrogant, I think the better description is motivated. He is confident enough to seek out people as smart or smarter than he is, and he is willing to be wrong. I don't know anything about Brady's personality or her work ethic so I can't comment on it. I respect Jefferson's intelligence, his work ethic, and his listening skills.

Peter's comments reminded me that WWeek and the Bus Project co-sponsor the Candidates Gone Wild events. So they definitely have gotten chummy with Smith over the years, and they both target the same demographic (young, idealistic progressives). All the more reason to be skeptical of their coverage of Hales and Brady, and suspicious of the kid-glove treatment they have heretofore shown Smith. In fact, I bet they made up their minds a long time ago and the Smith endorsement article is already pasted up for one of the April editions of the newspaper.

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