Your Weekend Reader for Dec. 2-3

by | Dec 2, 2023 | Weekend Reader | 3 comments

It’s hard to believe that it’s already the first weekend in December. Confidential to Weekend Reader readers: The Christmas cards will be late again. Like, a couple of years late.

Did you notice Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff trying to melt back into the crowd after he presented the conference championship trophy to the Washington Huskies after Friday night’s title game? I was at least grateful that he didn’t try to say anything during the trophy presentation — he likely was worried, as he should have been, that he would have been booed (I thought I might have heard some scattered boos when his name was announced, but I’m not sure) and getting booed on national TV probably isn’t a good look to start your job search.

And, not to seem uncharitable during the holidays, but what sort of job do you think Kliavkoff might land after stepping away from the wreckage of the Pac-12? Readers, feel free to post your suggestions below in the comments; I might produce a small prize for the comment that makes me laugh hardest.

A couple of additional thoughts about the Pac-12 before we move on:

Did you find yourself worrying during the game, as I did, about how much money Ducks coach Dan Lanning would lose if his team didn’t win the championship? I looked it up: Lanning would have earned an extra $250,000 if the Ducks had won. He’ll have to content himself with the $100,000 he earned for qualifying for the championship game and the $150,000 he’ll collect for leading the Ducks to a New Year’s Six bowl, which seems a sure bet. Lanning’s base salary this season was $7 million — but, to be fair, the football coach at any university is the guy who’s responsible for bringing in a big chunk of the revenue for that school’s athletics program.

If you’re curious: Jonathan Smith, the former Oregon State University coach, made $4.85 million this season. Terms of his contract with his new employer, Michigan State University, have not yet been released. (Update: I should have looked a little harder on Saturday morning, because details of Smith’s contract had been on the web for days. Smith will start with a salary of $7.25 million in his first season and his salary will increase by $100,000 in each of the seven years on his contract. I know Smith’s departure left a sour taste with many OSU fans, but it’s hard to blame him for taking the Michigan State job.)

Speaking of OSU: The media consensus around the hiring of defensive coordinator Trent Bray as the school’s new head coach essentially is that athletics director Scott Barnes needed to move fast and needed to bring in someone who has a history with the Beavers. Bray fit the bill — and there’s no doubt he’s done an excellent job running the Beavers’ defense. Now, the date to watch is Dec. 4, when the transfer portal opens. Already, quarterback DJ Uiagalelei has announced that he’s stepping into the portal; we’ll see who follows.

Finally, can we call a moratorium on TV announcers telling us how much they’ll miss the Pac-12, without even vaguely mentioning the role that TV revenue played in the collapse? “Why, yes, officer, I bought the drugs that killed the victim, but I sure am going to miss him.” Am I thinking about this too hard?

Moving on to other matters this weekend:

I’m not sure exactly what’s going on with this nasty bit of business on the Corvallis City Council, which had planned at its Monday meeting to consider a resolution to have Ward 5 councilor Charlyn Ellis forfeit her seat. As I understand the allegations against Ellis, she’s accused of violating the city charter by asking that the council direct City Manager Mark Shepard to post a full-time job for an open climate program specialist. Ellis brought the matter to the council as part of her liaison role with Climate Action Advisory Board, which she also chairs. It doesn’t appear that Ellis was suggesting that any specific person be hired for that job, just that she thought it needed to be filled. (At a Sept. 13 meeting of the board, Ellis apparently urged it to approve such a motion for her to bring to the council.)

Here’s the section of the charter Ellis is alleged to have violated:

Neither the mayor nor any member of the council shall in any manner, directly or indirectly, by suggestion or otherwise, attempt to influence or coerce the manager in the making of any appointment or removal of any officer or employee or in the purchase of supplies; or attempt to exact any promise relative to any appointment from any candidate for manager, or discuss, directly or indirectly, with the manager the matter of specific appointments to any city office or employment. 

Reasonable minds can disagree, but it seems relatively clear to me that this part of the charter is written specifically to prevent nepotism or favoritism toward an individual job candidate — and that asking the city manager to work to fill an open position does not violate the spirit of the charter.

Nevertheless, some councilors and city attorney Jim Brewer told Ellis at the Sept. 18 meeting that her motion violated the charter, and that apparently was the end of the matter, until Ellis was summoned on Monday, Nov. 27– more than two months later — to a meeting with Brewer, council President Tracey Yee and Mayor Charles Maughan. At the meeting, the officials laid out the case against Ellis. According to a public notice update the city posted to its website late Friday, the three officials believed after the meeting that Ellis had waived her right to a due process hearing on the matter and that she would forfeit her council seat at the end of the Dec. 4 meeting.

Make of that what you will, but it’s clear now that Ellis has asked for, and will receive, that due process hearing later this month, according to this story posted Saturday by Penny Rosenberg, the editor of the Gazette-Times, which has done a good job covering this matter.

It could be that additional facts will come into play, but it may also be that Mike Beilstein, a former city councilor who also made some waves during his time on the council, has a point: He told the Gazette-Times he thinks it could be that someone has a “vendetta” against Ellis and called the affair an “embarrassment.”

I hadn’t intended to be quite so wordy about this weekend’s first two topics, so how about some quick links to wrap up this edition?

Liz Chaney’s new memoir has this delightful tidbit: Kevin McCarthy, the former speaker of the House, told Chaney he made that trip down to Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago to cheer up the former president; Trump was so depressed after leaving the White House, McCarthy told Chaney, that he wasn’t eating. I was going to add another comment here, but it suddenly doesn’t seem necessary.

Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman to serve on the Supreme Court, died Friday at 93. Here’s Jonathan Rauch, writing in The Atlantic, with an appreciation for what he calls her underappreciated judicial career.

Nieman Lab at Harvard University has a piece by the authors of a new book probing more deeply into those people who are “news-avoiders” — that is, people who make a habit of consuming as little news as possible. Nothing in the piece will come as a revelation, but it still makes for interesting reading.

Ammon Bundy, who led the takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in January 2016 — and has since gotten into plenty of other trouble — has disappeared. But not before Jacob Stern of The Atlantic spent considerable time with Bundy, resulting in this terrifying story.

Finally this week: I had a chance recently to watch Nicole Holofcener’s delightfully droll “You Hurt My Feelings,” and that sparked my interest in this story from The New York Times about things therapists urge you never to say to your partner. And don’t tell me I’m overreacting.

That’s it for this weekend. See you next Saturday.

3 Comments

  1. Paul Davies

    George Kliavkoff could be the perfect person to head up the print newspaper division of Lee Enterprises.

    Reply
    • Mike McInally

      And we have an early leader in the clubhouse! Paul, this made me laugh out loud at the end of a long day.

      Reply
  2. JB

    I’m a news avoider! I didn’t know that’s a thing. I’m looking forward to reading the article and the book, but only after I finish that Atlantic article about Bundy—started it last night and got interrupted. Thanks for reminding me! “Terrifying” is right.

    Reply

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