‘Wow, wow, wow.”
That was the message I received just after a friend read my last column. I wrote it was time for Don Benton to go.
Yes, that Benton. The state senator Benton and the county environmental services director Benton. Yes, the Benton who couldn’t tell the difference between mulch and a mocha but his commissioner buddies David Madore and Tom Mielke snuck him through the back door to grab that $100,000 a year county job. Sweeeeeeet!
Then Benton went and displayed his usual boorish behavior and publicly fought with fellow Republican state Sen. Ann Rivers. That resulted in both of them getting their knuckles rapped. But Benton came out the biggest loser.
At the end of my last column I said it was very, very unlikely Benton would go.
“Bad company ’til the day we die? Bad company ’til the day we die,” I wrote.
That’s (mostly) a line from the 1974 international hit “Bad Company.”
When I wrote it I knew most readers would conclude I was suggesting that Benton is bad company. But I also knew that bad company is in the eye of the beholder.
Just ask Brian J. Rohan. He commented on my last column:
“Seems to me, the only bad company in this article is its author.”
“Come to think of it, I don’t get invited to many parties.”
Truth is, Brian is onto something. I can easily see why I’d be considered bad company. And if you go back to my friend who said “wow, wow, wow,” I discussed with him the bad company concept.
“Some folks will say I’m the bad company and I would comfortably wear that badge.”
Why do I accept that?
When a journalist exposes the wrongs of our society somebody isn’t going to be happy. Left or right, it doesn’t matter. Eventually — if you’re doing your job — you’ll be considered bad company by someone.
When I write about the differences between what public and private employees get, many don’t consider me good company.
When I talk about the shenanigans Madore and Mielke regularly pull, do you think conservatives consider me good company? Not so much.
Of course — in my mind at least — there’s a huge difference between guys like Benton being bad company and guys like me being bad company.
Benton is boorish and a bully and tries to squeeze every free thing out of every person he runs across.
Journalists are trying to squeeze the truth out of what’s going on in our society.
Clearly journalists have detractors and we accept it. But, more and more, we’re seeing readers who appreciate what we do. Like this comment from Debbie Nelson:
“Lou, I really appreciate you giving voice to the voiceless! In the 26 years I’ve lived in Vancouver, I’ve never felt such a need to either get politically active or scream!
“Please don’t let the bullies bully you into silence. You speak for hundreds of us.”
A few days ago a reader sent me this short note:
“Lou, you have the heart of a gunslinger.”
I thought about that for a while and figured that might just be the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me.
When you take on the power structure — as journalists must do — life isn’t always easy. You’re not always popular. But the community is better served because of it.
Bad company ’til the day I die.