As many of you already know, two weeks ago Stranger Public Editor A. Birch Steen tendered his resignation. I was shocked by this news. Birch, if you're reading this, please be assured that I did not know in advance that a picture of a plate of spaghetti would appear in this space last week. The persons responsible have since been temporarily reassigned.
In the interest of full disclosure, I will admit that I believed Mr. Steen was happy in his job. Perhaps I should have been "in the loop," as they say, but the fact of the matter is that I simply don't spend much time overseeing Keck Family Media Properties. The day-to-day operations are left to my managers. So I almost fell out of my golf cart when I heard Mr. Steen was gone. I keep replaying the moment in my mind: my old friend Joel Connelly racing up the drive on his Segway, the new edition of The Stranger tucked under one of his chins, shouting so loud that Hans and Ruth and the rest of the household staff emerged to share in the calamitous moment. And a calamity it was indeed—still is. A paper like The Stranger cannot afford to be without a public editor. All serious news publications have public editors.
I will say this about next steps: An associate of mine has reached out to Mr. Steen to see if there's anything that can be done to bring him back. If money is at the root of this problem, I am prepared to fix it with the stroke of a pen, the tap of an electronic-transfer PIN, the leaving of a few large bills inside that flower pot on the west side of Spokane's Washington Street Bridge—whatever it takes, A.
It may be some time before a proper Public Editor is returned to this space, be it Mr. Steen or someone else, and this week I shall attempt to fill A.'s very large shoes. I am a man of a certain station in life. As such, I don't tend to bother with declarative statements, which are A.'s forte. For me, a pointed question to an underling usually suffices. In this spirit, I have compiled (with an invaluable assist from Mr. Connelly) a list of three questions to Stranger writers regarding the current issue:
(1) Is the 500 block of East Pine Street within this paper's distribution area, and if so why have so many of you admitted (on pages 20—27) to getting drunk in that area and committing various unsavory acts?
(2) Who signed off on the Porns column on page 86?
(3) Why is my Stranger blimp being depicted throughout the paper as slowly bursting into flames when in fact only last week Mr. Connelly and I used it to go to La Conner and it now sits, quite whole, on the lawn near my helipad?
I shall have answers.
I shall not, however, serve as your interim public editor. I have reached out to my friend Frank Blethen, a man of similar station in life, and asked if his boy Ryan Blethen might serve as public editor until such a time as a new public editor is selected. Frank graciously agreed and Ryan starts next week.