In response to Commissioner Chloe Eudaly’s feud with local journalists

Public servants need to embrace the public

Portland City Commissioner Chloe Eudaly is finding herself in a social media feud with local journalists for a series mostly “friends-only”—and a few public—posts made on Facebook recently. Local freelance journalist Mike Bivins discovered some bizarre posts, started taking screenshots, and proceeded to tweet out these discoveries on Nov. 10.

This is not a hit piece on Eudaly. This is not a part of the witch hunt she claims to have found herself in. This is a word to the wise. The public is not going to be sympathetic to people in power who demean them.

Eudaly made the false claim that a journalist, Jessica Floum of The Oregonian, was too lazy to ask Eudaly to chat before 5 p.m. on Friday when her work week ended. Eudaly then proceeded to disparage Floum and her paper saying that Floum was “not really sharp enough to be covering City Hall, then again The Oregonian is irrelevant, so who cares I guess.

A couple problems with this: Floum didn’t contact Eudaly after 5 p.m. and has a screenshot of Eudaly responding before then, making the conscious decision not to talk because she didn’t agree with what Floum wanted to write about; if you misrepresent your interactions with a journalist and then bad-mouth said journalist and various local news organizations, who the fuck do you think is going to be on your side to defend you?

Yes, Eudaly: Trump and Arpaio are indeed objectively trash humans. However, if you don’t want to talk to the press, they’re gonna write the story with or without you, so if you care about how you’re portrayed in articles and don’t want to sound like Trump, it’s probably best to respond to journalists.

If you’re not a fan of various news organizations, this doesn’t mean the organizations irrelevant. If they were as irrelevant as you say they are, they wouldn’t still operate.

Local newspapers exist for many reasons, and one of those reasons is to call local politicians on their shit.

The political process is confusing. Portland has a lot of problems, and people are actively trying to participate. A lot of people have a lot to say and they don’t know where to direct those questions.

Calling with concerns that don’t seem to be heard can indeed lead to a bunch of upset people crashing your city council meetings. But that doesn’t justify telling these concerned citizens that all you want for Xmas is for them to “educate themselves before they come to Council…(H)ow about not distracting from the real issues and wasting your time and ours with uninformed BS?”

Invalidating the very real concerns of your very real constituents is a surefire way to end your political career. Just because attendees’ issues are different than yours doesn’t make them immaterial. Just because a paper doesn’t say the things you want to read doesn’t mean its existence isn’t valuable. Just because you get caught, doesn’t mean you have to start slinging mud and calling names. We’ve already got the orange turd to do that.

Remember who you serve: the public. You’re not going to like every day at work. Too bad. Journalists can be your friends or your worst nightmares, both while acting ethically. Just be transparent; that’s what the public wants from elected officials.

We want to know what you’re doing, and we want you to listen to our concerns. People’s feelings might not always be rooted in truth, but if your constituents show up, it’s evidence that they too want to make the world a better place and are passionate enough to tell you about it. Harness the passion of your constituents and work together, not against.

The Jake Johnson Experience is an ongoing column by Jake Johnson.