Benton backs The Columbian!
When an email titled, “Benton backs The Columbian …” appeared in my inbox, I had to double check the calendar. Yes, it’s Cinco de Mayo, not April Fools’ Day.
Benton, in his role as a state lawmaker, expressed disappointment that Clark County Superior Court Judge Robert Lewis ruled against the newspaper on May 2.
Some background: I have a standing public disclosure request for Vancouver City Council emails, and I receive a batch of them every two weeks. (By email, that is. Don’t be getting new ideas about that litter fee.) The city was prepared to give me an email labeled attorney-client privilege because Mayor Tim Leavitt forwarded it to City Manager Eric Holmes. The city gave C-Tran a heads up, and C-Tran’s attorney, Tom Wolfendale, called Eric Stahl, our attorney, to ask if we would waive our request for the email.
Now — and maybe the Vancouver City Council needs a lesson on emails and the Public Records Act — but this was the second time this had happened. The first time the forwarding was done by a city councilor, and we let it go. This time, Editor Lou and our attorney thought it best to have a judge review the email to make sure Wolfendale doesn’t have an overly broad interpretation of a rule that exempts attorney-client communications.
So Wolfendale had to ask for an injunction, which Lewis granted.
Just because we didn’t want to take C-Tran’s word that the email was exempt from the Public Records Act doesn’t mean we don’t believe Judge Lewis. The Columbian has no plans to appeal.
In Benton’s press release, he managed to work in the Columbia River Crossing and pat himself on the back for a measure that earned him favorable press from the Oregon media. (Cough.)
I wonder if Benton knew that by saying he applauds the effort of “The Columbian,” to use public-disclosure laws, he’s really applauding me (because it’s my public disclosure request) and Editor Lou. I can’t say for certain we are Benton’s least-favorite Columbian employees, but when Benton was talking to county reporter Tyler Graf last month, he called me a “bitch” and Lou “lazy.” He also called Erin Middlewood a “fake reporter.” (He probably wasn’t fond of this story). Middlewood said that was an upgrade, as he once called her “garbage.”
I had to laugh.
And I stand corrected. He called Senator Rivers a “trashy, trampy-mouthed little girl,” or, excuse me again, he said she was only acting like a trashy, trampy-mouthed little girl.
Here’s the full press release: