Defending Lew Frederick

I think you are doing your readers, and voters, a disservice by classifying Lew Frederick's job as "bad" ["The Good, the Bad and the Awful," WW, June 22, 2011].

We can disagree about the job [state] Rep. Frederick [D-Portland] did this session; I’d call it good.  You think he did less well than that, and (in this letter) I’m not objecting to that opinion.  I’m objecting to less-than-good being either “bad” or “awful,” with no other option.

I appreciate that your cover story has a snappy title ("the good, the bad, and the awful"), but you in fact have four categories, including "excellent."

Just by your description alone, you say Rep. Frederick played a "key role" in passing an anti-brownfield law, and made “stirring” speeches.  A couple of lobbyists, one a “business lobbyist,” thought he was ineffective in his first full session.

Being a legislator is difficult, and it takes some time to learn how to do it effectively.  Labeling him "bad" is just insulting, without giving the voters any information. Sure, tell us that in the opinion of some, Tina Kotek  (in her third term) does a better job. But it's merely cute, and I submit not intellectually honest, to describe Lew Frederick as "bad."

And, of course, the premise of your entire article…what (mostly) lobbyists think of elected officials, can be questioned.  A “business lobbyist” objects to Rep. Frederick’s “ideology”? An “insider” says “his heart’s in the right place”?  That’s not “bad” in my book.

Laura Graser
Northeast Portland

EDITOR'S NOTE: Thank you for your letter.  The basis for assessment are the scores Rep. Frederick and his colleagues received from about 70 respondents (who included legislative staff, journalists and lobbyists representing unions, nonprofits and public-sector clients as well as businesses). 

We averaged the scores and put the lawmakers on a curve, so Rep. Frederick's "bad" designation is simply a reflection of where respondents ranked him in comparison to his peers. And in Salem, unlike in Lake Wobegone, not everybody can be above average. —Nigel Jaquiss

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