Monday, September 04, 2006

That'll Teach Us to Go on Vacation!

Remind me to get a laptop so I can still check what's going on with the blog while I'm away from my normal routine. I tried to log on from Seattle via the hotel's half-assed webTV interface, but it was mostly fruitless. So I return to find a tempest in a teapot about the women's outreach meeting scheduled for Mamma Mia's, owned by a member of the Oregon Restaurant Association who testified on their behalf in favor of exempting waitstaff from the minimum wage law. I did manage to post a piece on a favorable alternative, the award-winning good-neighbor Tin Shed Cafe', which spurred more animated commentary.

So let's see if we can't clear some things up, readdress others, and sort out the aftermath, shall we?
  • The point has been made in comments that DPO did not sponsor this proposed meeting, and further that they are not:
    hosting, sponsoring, sanctioning, permitting, subsidizing, fanaticizing about or otherwise overlooking, condoning, or pardoning the aforementioned lunch. But again, why bother you with facts?
    Well, you know what? I'm not sure I accept that contention. Look again at the Benton County Democrats page I cited in the original article. What's it say at the top? That's right: "Message from Oregon Democrats."

    Ah, you may say--that's just a general phrase; it doesn't mean THE Oregon Democrats. However, in addition to the Benton County reference, I also have the email that presumably informed the BCDems posting, since it has the same information in it, verbatim. Who sent the email? Someone using the address DPO, for those not aware, stands for Democratic Party of Oregon. And what is their email alias that is stamped in the "from" line with that email? "Oregon Democrats." So let's get off the story that DPO was in no way involved with this luncheon. Were they directly responsible for the choice of restaurant, or even the idea to have the luncheon? Maybe not. But they promoted it, and thus their name is attached to it.*

  • It's also been said that Lisa Schroeder isn't really for the exemption of waitstaff from minimum wage, and that she's a big supporter of the Democrats. Let's deal with the first part of that. Here's Oregon DNC rep Jenny Greenleaf in comments:
    Lisa Schroeder does not back this type of legislation. She feels that she was used, has apologized, and done many good things for Democrats and progressives. Please, go find something important and real to do, like getting rid of Karen Minnis or making sure we can turn out Dems to vote in Nov.
    Frankly, I'm just not buying this. As I pointed out originally, the last time Schroeder was caught trying to maximize restaurant-owner profits at the expense of workers--with her support of Greek Cusina owner Ted Pappas in his crusade against food vendors--once the news hit the fan she pled ignorance and claimed disassociation with the group.

    And here now we have the same story. But it's hard to believe that someone was "used" when she testified in open session of the Legislature:
    Schroeder, who owns two prosperous restaurants in downtown Portland cited the high earnings of the servers she employs as a reason why the legislature should freeze the pay for all minimum-wage servers in Oregon.

    She told House lawmakers that servers in her restaurants earn $30 to $40 per hour in wages and tips combined. As a result, she says, she can’t afford to pay her cooks what they deserve. Her solution to this problem: Support legislation sponsored by the Oregon Restaurant Association to freeze the minimum wage for all workers in Oregon who earn more than $30 a month in tips.
    What did she think she was testifying for, I wonder?

    As to her other philanthropy and good deeds for Democrats, that's wonderful news. (As for the comment that "[they] would venture a bet that Mama Mia's donations and contributions beat [Tin Shed's] list hands down, any day," let's remember which restaurant's owner just won a statewide award for giving, eh?) I'm glad to hear that Ms. Schroeder tries to do good things, at least some of the time. This was never intended to be a screed against Lisa Schroeder, however--it was a note about the poor choice of venue made for lunch, given the topic of the lunch and the intended audience.

  • Let it be pointed out that LO neither endorses any kind of protest, nor do they endorse the view of DPO as
    "self important elite liberal women [who] want to come down from their west hills or Laurelhurst homes – leaving their child with the nanny, reminding the female immigrant housekeeper (who they gripe about having to pay at all) to dust the champagne glasses – and try to grace the downtrodden voters with their wisdom."
    That's absurd of course, as DPO delegate and former 2nd District candidate Chuck Butcher helpfully pointed out. Again, there's no reason to go overboard with this--it was a criticism about mixed political messages, not an indictment of the party or of women in general. So quit extrapolating as such, please.

  • I give the anonymous commenter in Saturday's post too much attention, but let's also clear this up while we're at it:
    Nothing in the info about this event said anything about "young, single female voters” as you and your supporting bloggers seems to think. You assumed it did but you know what assuming does, don't you? It DID mention female voters, so you only got 60% of your facts wrong there. Good work. Great odds. Again, you MIGHT want to enlighten yourself by learning what the median age is for women in Oregon.
    Nothing was said specifically about young, single female voters, true. But if you understand voting pattern demographics, you know that older, married females vote pretty regularly. So if there's outreach to be done in getting women to vote, it's naturally going to be focused on younger, single females. Don't believe me? Here's what Women's Voices, Women Vote has to say on the subject, courtesy of the Bergen, NJ Record in 2004:
    In the 2000 election, the largest bloc of non-voters was single women - 22 million of them stayed home.

    Focus groups said the candidates don't speak to them. They felt they didn't know enough to make an educated decision. They don't like going alone to the polls. They just don't have the time.

    Really, it comes down to this: They are non-believers. Because if they really believed in our democracy - that their vote would make a difference in what our government does and how it works - I think they would make it to the polls.
    I am confident the organizers of the lunch event are aware of this reality; thus the assumption that their outreach would concentrate on that subgroup of women. OK?

  • Finally, a note that should cause everyone to take a breath and settle down, from the Oregon AFL-CIO in an email I received Friday but could not see until today:
    President Chamberlain called the Oregon Dems and told them what a faux pas it was to host a working women event at an anti-worker establishment. Some crazy left-wing lunatic anonymous blogger had even suggested at LoadedOrygun that a picket line – and maybe the giant inflatable rat -- would appear at the restaurant on the day of the event.The party people saw the light and have asked for our help in finding a different location.[emph mine]
    Excellent, excellent news. Strong kudos to Tom Chamberlain and the organizers for reacting to the information they received, and as for suggestions hopefully they've seen our recommendation for Tin Shed. I understand the concern about having a downtown location close to public transportation, and that's valid. But Alberta's on the busline, so it's not like Sherwood or anything. If there's another option that's just as good, no problem.

    So let's sum up: We think Lisa Schroeder deserves criticism for backing the minimum wage extention, but it doesn't make her an evil person--it just means her restaurant is a lousy place to court working women. We accept that DPO isn't the formal sponsor of the event, but if they promote it and associate their good name with it, they may want to be more careful about that in the future--and that doesn't mean DPO is evil or anti-woman, either. Young, unmarried women of modest means ARE the primary target group (or should be) if the object is to bring more women to the polls in 2006. Of course we salute that goal, if not the operalization of that effort. And big ups to Tom Chamberlain and the event organizers for listening to feedback and adjusting on the fly to make things right.

    OK? Man, it's good to be back.

    *Jenny G noted in comments as I finished this, that she is in fact the one who volunteers to promote Dem events on the DPO calender, and indeed sent the email. So it's understood that DPO is not the sponsor; they just saw a good idea and didn't scrutinize the details. Fair enough.

Update, 9/5 9AM--
Blue Oregon has published a mea culpa by Lisa Schroeder, in which she pleads ignorance, cries foul on the ORA, and rescinds her support for the server exemption. I'll accept that at face value, although it still seems she doesn't understand that tips are not wages, and that not everybody who waits tables clears $30 to $40 an hour. But it's excellent news all around that the primary players in our melodrama have declared themselves chastened and ready to make amends. With today being the day after Labor Day--the traditional start of the political season in earnest--it's a good time to move forward and focus together on the bigger fish to fry in our local and federal elections.