The Other Side of Montesano ‘Discrepancy’ – or – Where’s Inigo Montoya When We Need Him?

Remember that October 23 Vidette editorial, Why does Montesano have a discrepancy in responding to record requests? (Posted on-line on October 22.) Re-read paragraph 2. Sets the tone for the entire piece, particularly the six words following the second hyphen.

I loved that editorial. So did the City of Montesano. The city loved it so much, in fact, that City Attorney Dan Glenn drafted a response in conjunction with Mayor Ken Estes and City Administrator Kristy Powell. It was submitted to former Vidette Editor Steven Friederich, affectionately dubbed Prince Valiant, on November 3.

Betcha didn’t know that.

That’s because to date, the city’s response hasn’t seen the light of Vidette day. Don’t worry. We got it via public records request. Both the short and the long versions.

In case you’re wondering – and even if you’re not – Glenn’s “other side of the story” received this response from Prince Valiant on November 3:

“Our paper is underway and our opinion page is already done. (Our deadline for letters to the editor/columns is the Friday before publication; even if I had gotten this on Sunday, I would still be able (sic) to get it in. But I can’t have my staff scrap the work they’ve already done to fit it in for something received so late on Monday). I’ve not read the response yet, but we’ll make sure to get this in the Nov. 13 issue. (Emphasis added.)

Paper underway

Prince Valiant posted about the response on Facebook, categorizing Glenn’s letter as “hate mail.” (Dude, I’ve seen hate mail. Glenn’s response ain’t even close.)

SF FB

Cue Inigo Montoya:

In a follow-up, our fair prince cites length as a concern and says he’s “not fully read the response yet.”

On November 3 Prince Valiant asks Glenn for a “mug shot of you to go with it since it it’s clearly longer than the 500 word limit I allow for letters to the editor and would need to be a guest column.” He asks Janet Taylor of Sound Publishing to review Glenn’s response and weigh in, saying, “… let me know if you want me to devote a full page to it in next week’s edition.” Taylor responds on November 4: “We cannot donate a full page to a response” and suggests 500 words. (Not “devote,” but “donate.” Interesting?)

Taylor response

Just to be clear, while Prince Valiant’s editorial weighs in at nearly 1,200 words.  His November 19 (on-line) “swan song” editorial, The Public Records Act can be messy, but it’s your right, is 1,500 words. Another recent editorial, City of Monte should cut administration to balance budget, tips the scales at over 1,300 words. But The Vidette never ran the city’s response. Not even a pared down version.

Just for Fun:

  • Why categorize Glenn’s memo in response to a public records request as an “an order by the city attorney” when the memo clearly was not? It was an FYI and a request. Glenn points this out in his response.
  • Glenn drafted two versions of the city’s response to Princely’s October 23 editorial. A long version and a short version. The long one is long and detailed. The short version is under 500 words, the limit cited by Prince Valiant for letters to the editor. How come it never showed up as an LTE? Or a two-parter? Or at all?
  • Why can The Vidette “donate” about 1,300 words for a November 19 guest column related to city matters but can’t seem to find the space to accommodate Glenn’s short version response?

Regarding expending extra legwork chasing down a 2013 letter from former Council Member Rich Klinger, our fair Prince asks, “Why was I forced to do the city’s job?” He asks that – or something similar – about a million times, implying ineptitude or foul dealings taking place in some smoke-filled basement in the dead of night.

Glenn addresses that:

“Mayor Estes responded (to Princely’s request) by indicating the Union Representative, Mr. Werner, had shown him the letter, but he had returned it to Mr. Werner. Ms. Powell indicated the letter had not been utilized as evidence at the hearing and she did not have a copy. The last communication between Mr. Friederich and the City, by and through Ms. Powell, was that Mr. Friederich would contact Mr. Werner and obtain a copy from him. Ms. Powell heard no further from Mr. Friederich in this regard. Thus, the assumption, which appears to be correct, was he had obtained the document from Mr. Werner.

…  He (Princely) is correct in that, if the City had been made aware he had not obtained the document, it would have been the City’s responsibility to contact Mr. Klinger and request the document. The unfortunate but reasonable error made by Ms. Powell was to assume Mr. Friederich would let her know if his voluntary action in terms of contacting Mr. Werner was not successful.”

Just For More Fun:

  • If the Klinger letter was that crucial, why not simply chase it down himself, like Prince Valiant said he would? (I have the email(s).)
  • Why force the city to do a reporter’s job?
  • If efforts to track down said letter in the venue specified were unsuccessful, why not say so – at the time?
  • Want some cheese with that whine?

Frankly, I’m asking questions now because I thought reporters didn’t have anymore tools in their toolbox to get stories. But, apparently, a member of the media couldn’t find the time to track down one letter or inform city hall that he did not have said crucial letter until someone else started asking.

It’s still bizarre. Still unreal. It’s Inigo-ish.

Remember: There’s a right way and a wrong way, and attitude is everything. Let’s still see what happens next. Stay tuned!

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Photo credit: Princess Bride Wikia

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3 thoughts on “The Other Side of Montesano ‘Discrepancy’ – or – Where’s Inigo Montoya When We Need Him?

  1. Hey Kristine: I was willing to run it, but the column never ran because the city attorney wrote it without the mayor’s permission and the mayor killed it. Glenn’s column also contains incorrect assumptions and inaccurate statements. I’m not going to get into it all here via comment on your blog. It fascinates me that you continue to mock me in your blog, but I’m not surprised. If you would have contacted me or Ken like a real journalist, We would have been able to let you know. Also, so your readers know, I also invited you to submit columns to me, and you declined. Have a great life! Merry Christmas to your awesome husband!

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    1. Someone miss the About page?

      So that explains the (non-existent) notice in the paper that a response was submitted but never printed: It’s the mayor’s fault? Already heard that version, BTW. Checked it out. Not exactly kosher. Cue Inigo…

      And oh, the mayor, city administrator and city attorney were all contacted prior to publication. If you had contacted me like a real journalist, I would’ve been able to let you know. When offered a Q and A post here, you declined. Thanks for reading and Merry Christmas!

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  2. Kristine,
    Shame on you for picking on poor innocent Steven. He is the embodiment of “Truth Justice and the American way”.
    And that’s not the only thing Steven has in common with my hero Superman. My hero worked for a large metropolitan newspaper, Steven worked for a small town weekly rag.
    He will be missed.

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