Well, the Chris Dudley minimum wage story continues to grow.
Now, Chris Dudley would have us believe - and is convincing some in the media - that he didn't say anything about cutting the minimum wage.
And he's pointing to an edited tape of his comments to claim, hilariously, that the Kitzhaber campaign is misrepresenting his comments. He's also got surrogates out there, including here on BlueOregon, also crying "edited tape! edited tape!".
So, as we did when this story first broke, we'll share the full tape with you. It's just over two minutes, so I encourage you to watch it in full.
Most of the conversation about this has focused on one particular statement - "it doesn’t make sense that our waitresses are getting tips plus the highest minimum wage in the country." Dudley would have us believe he was merely quoting restaurant owners. (I think it's important that he didn't quote them, and then say "but they're wrong." He quoted them with an implied sense of agreement. But, I digress.)
I'd like to point your attention to the first sentence, in which he responds to a question. The questioner notes that "our state tends to have a very high minimum wage", asserts that "it attracts the wrong end of the labor pool to our state", and then asks "if you share that philosophy and if you have any idea what you would do about that."
Dudley's response is unequivocal: "I agree with you on that issue."
So, let's be clear: Dudley believes that Oregon's minimum wage is too high.
Of course, he's now claiming that he doesn't think that at all. And if he's changed his mind in the last 48 hours and now agrees with us that the minimum wage is a critical element to making the economy work for all Oregonians, well, that's great!
But I'm not quite ready yet to take Dudley's conversion on the road to Damascus, er, Salem quite at face value.
After all, in the full tape, he also said this: "I’m not going to make a forefront campaign issue on it because I think it’s something – it’s a hot button that people don’t really understand"
Even as he was explaining his position to that industry group, he knew that it was a political loser. It's no wonder that now, having been caught on tape, he's backpedaling as fast as he can.
But even as he backpedals, Dudley can't help himself - telling the press that he still supports a "training wage". After all, as he said on the full unedited tape, "that’s one area I would like to tackle first is to at least get a training wage going".
Whether Dudley wants to believe it or not, creating a training wage -- whether for young people or for all workers in a "probationary period" -- is a cut in the minimum wage. Those workers would get paid less. Less is not the same. Less is less.
Setting aside all the hullaballoo, one thing is crystal clear: Chris Dudley does not support Oregon's minimum wage policy as it is today. Period. And that's a fact.