Just the other day on my radio show, I was talking about the crucial first meeting in New York today between Major League Baseball and the group representing Portland's interest in acquiring a franchise.
I said I thought it was great that Portland Mayor Vera Katz was on the trip but that when things got serious, Katz and the others in the delegation should surrender the floor to the group's leader, David Kahn, and let him be the main speaker. He's the most qualified and has the best chance of making this city's case.
One of my listeners, a salesman in Southeast Portland we'll call John, agreed. Since he has e-mailed city officials before, he decided to send Katz a little note about it. What follows is the correspondence between John and the mayor, edited only for space purposes.
John's initial e-mail:
'Glad you're going to New York for the baseball meeting. But PLEASE, go strictly as a cheerleader. Let David Kahn do the talking. He's the expert. We don't need you screwing up a great chance to land a major league team the way you did the Portland Family Entertainment deal. É The plan to finance the stadium through taxes on player salaries is a terrific idea. É So, again, be a cheerleader, Vera. Let David Kahn orchestrate the details. You'll get plenty of credit in the end. Heck, you might even have a legacy other than the botched PFE deal.'
The mayor's response:
'Allow me to reply to your sexist and uninformed e-mail. I AM leading the delegation and will make a presentation as mayor of this city. That's what they (MLB) have requested.
'The PFE deal was screwed up by folks in the private sector who weren't watching the costs. Remember that they got millions of dollars from a financier that also should have kept its eye on the private part of the deal. We struck a very good arrangement for the city. Our debt money was secured to pay off the bonds. We are now being asked to renegotiate with PFE to lower the amount the city would get. When you're ready to put in 15 hours a day working for the city, let me know and I'll put you to work.'
'My comments were anything BUT sexist. I resent that implication. Vera, you have awfully thin skin. É Also, anyone who knows anything about the PFE deal knows that it was never even remotely realistic. Just admit you blew it instead of whining and making excuses. É My fervent hope is that you won't do anything to blow our chances of building a stadium and getting a team.'
The mayor's reply:
'Someone let them borrow millions of dollars to buy the team. Don't they factor in the equation? I protected the interests of the city. The private investors weren't watching the store. Why blame me or the city for their lack of oversight? Yes, it was sexist of you. É P.S., I, a woman, have put plenty of deals (together) for the city that were winners Ñ expansion of the convention center, light rail to the airport Ñ just to name a few. So don't tell me not to screw this one up!!!!'
'Now I know why you're working (?) those 15-hour days. You're a compulsive e-mailer. And what's this WOMAN thing? This has nothing to do with whether you're a man or a woman. It simply makes more sense for someone such as David Kahn, who has been a general manager of an NBA team and is well versed in what it takes to obtain and run a successful pro franchise, to be the point person on this.'
The mayor's reply:
'Okay, okay Ñ of course David will be there and so will others. We divided the work among all of us and are well prepared. RELAX. And I hate e-mail.'
Honest, I didn't make this up.
Sam Adams, Katz's chief of staff, said Monday that the mayor reads all of her e-mails and that they all get answered. Adams wouldn't comment on this particular exchange but described Katz as 'a super salesperson for the Portland area.'
'In the last nine days,' he said, 'we've worked hard to assemble a presentation that plays to the true strengths of each individual in the delegation.'
Dwight Jaynes' sports talk show airs from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays on KPAM (860 AM).