Press Talk: Who's to blame for all this stupid stuff?

By Lou Brancaccio, Columbian editor

Published:

 
photoLou Brancaccio, Columbian editor, spent his college years in a Swamp.

Look, I’m the first to admit I need a Don’t Do Stupid Stuff mug. Maybe two.

I’m just as likely to walk off a cliff because I’m not paying attention as any of my favorite politicians.

But let’s say I hadn’t figured that out already. Well, there are plenty of folks who are happy to let me know.

Carol Levanen of Yacolt just wrote to say so.

“The witch hunt that the Columbian continues to throw at Commissioner (David) Madore is going to backfire and the only people deserving of the cup will be you.”

Carol had just finished looking at the video interview I conducted between Madore and Mayor Tim Leavitt. It’s on our website. But the video is the video. It’s all there to see. No witch hunt as far as I can tell.

Nonetheless, she feels I need a mug. Fair enough.

• • •

Then a few days ago, I get a call from another dedicated reader, saying she too believes I should have a DDSS mug because of Madore. But her take was exactly the opposite.

She let me know that early on — before Madore began to regularly do stupid stuff — I had written a column saying I liked the guy.

“If you go back and look at some of your old columns, you’ll see I’m right,” she tells me.

And because I said I liked him, I should take part of the blame for his stupid stuff.

Of course, I didn’t have to go back to look. In a few of my earlier columns I did say I liked Madore. I felt the county needed shaking up (still do), and Madore appeared to be the guy to do it.

Well, shake he did. But who knew it would almost rattle the entire place to rubble?

And here’s the kicker.

I still like the guy.

You heard me right. I’ve told this to a few other folks, and when people hear this, they’re taken aback. I’ve written a bunch of biting stuff about Madore and Commissioner Tom Mielke (the M&M boys). And some readers can’t figure out how I could still like him.

For me, it’s pretty easy. I can like someone personally and still beat him up if he needs a good beating. Criticism is the first step in improvement. If I didn’t think Madore was listening, if I didn’t think he could get better, I wouldn’t waste my time on him. And, yes, he has a lot of improving to do. Lots!

Plus, I don’t see anyone else in the county building who is stepping up to give him an evaluation. I’ve seen him interact with a few county workers, and they are all like, “You’re the greatest, sir!” and I’m like, “Be honest with the dude.” So consider my column like an evaluation. And, commissioner, I might have to put you on a performance improvement plan soon.

• • •

I don’t do what I do in the hope that readers will like me. I’m honest and share what I feel, and the chips fall where they fall.

As for Madore, well he doesn’t like me. He’s not my greatest fan. And despite the fact that I could walk off a cliff without any help, I suspect Madore wouldn’t mind giving me a hand.

Need proof? Look at this exchange between me and Madore about the possibility of his starting up his own newspaper — likely a weekly — this year.

Me:We know you’re not big fans of The Columbian.

Madore: I don’t read very much fiction these days.

Now, how do you not like a guy with that sense of humor?

Now, commissioner, most would say getting into print media today not only is a challenge but is borderline stupid. (You need a hug? Or a mug?) It is a challenging time for all newspapers including us. Of course, Madore has more dollars than there are snowflakes in the county right now. So I suspect he will be able to pull this off for a while.

I wish you the best of luck, commissioner. And remember: Who loves ya?

Madore's newspaper