Former Mercury News Co-Editor Scott Moore describes launching this column as like "giving birth to a golden baby encrusted with diamonds"—both rewarding, and yet very painful at the same time.
Likewise, it's been my journalistic experience that the better job you are doing, the more pain you inevitably experience. And while I don't necessarily see people hating my guts or death threats as a sign of reporting success, I do not consider this business to be a popularity contest for the thin skinned.
On the other hand, Portland City Hall is as fraught with popularity anxiety as a Hollywood high school prom. And it seems to be going through a curious reorientation in social pecking order as the dust settles, at least temporarily, following revelations that our metaphorical football captain, Mayor Sam Adams, kissed 17-year-old Beau Breedlove in the building's second floor restroom.
It's no secret that City Commissioner Randy Leonard has distanced himself from Adams, his former closest political ally, in the wake of the scandal, even telling the Oregonian on Friday, January 30, that he "doesn't trust" the mayor any longer. But I was more struck by Leonard's lavish praise, on Wednesday, January 28, of some remarks by fellow City Commissioner Nick Fish.
During the council meeting, Fish talked about the city's proposed homeless resource access center, characteristically quoting President Barack Obama for the umpteenth time. Then, Leonard spent five minutes saying how good he thought Fish's speech was, comparing Fish to former Vice President Nelson Rockefeller, and even saying: "I've never heard a better speech."
Afterward, City Commissioner Dan Saltzman looked a bit jealous. "I've been doing this 10 years, and I still use talking points," he said, lamenting his inability to impress Leonard as much as Fish with his oral skills. I'm sorry. Oratory. I should have written "oratory." You've got to be so careful, these days.
Fish's chief of staff, Sam Chase, says Leonard "just appreciates having someone on council who can articulate housing issues." But Leonard goes further: "I felt a need to publicly praise another elected official who is, in my opinion, representing the best of what I think the City of Portland's governing body has to offer," he tells the Mercury.
Did you hear that? "The best" Portland has to offer. It seems like Leonard might be looking for a new date to the prom. And if I were Adams, I'd be weeping more over the slight than if I were giving birth, without tranquilizers... to a golden baby, encrusted with diamonds.