My Brush With Ron

Chris Bouneff

I’m not one to pay much attention to the political horse races. In fact, this time of year disgusts me.

But today, I got to have fun -- with politics. You see, Oregon played Portland State this evening, and because this was a I-AA game, well the normally well-heeled folks that fill the club seats in Autzen Stadium gave way to someone like my friend and me. Long live eastside Portlanders.

At halftime, who should be walking in the club area shaking hands with the middle-age Duck fans sipping their cocktails but one Ron Saxton. Yes, that Ron Saxton, and most of the salt-and-pepper crowd seemed genuinely pleased to press his flesh.  And though I tend to check out every political season, even I couldn’t pass up this chance to razz him.

My friend Chris is a public school teacher. He teaches a mixed 6-7-8 class in an alternative school in one of the poorest districts in the state. A lifelong Republican, he recently switched to the Democratic Party, in part because folks like Saxton spend a lot of their time denigrating public employees, including public school teachers. He’s a great teacher; one that hates the teacher’s union because the state and national union have pretty much lost their way. In other words, he’s up for grabs politically.

As we both smiled invitingly, my buddy Chris reached out his hand and asked point blank: “Ron, why do you want to cut my salary?” Ron, of course, was taken aback. He didn’t, he replied. He wanted to raise Chris’ salary, he said.

“Didn’t you say you wanted to fire me and hire me back at a lower salary and lower pension?” No, Ron said. That’s propaganda from the teacher’s union.

I, of course, joined in as best I could and took a higher road. In a soft background voice, I repeated several times, “you suck.” What I really wanted to say was, on behalf of my non-English speaking relatives who were immigrants fewer than 80 years ago, (insert angry phrase here). I guess “you suck” was the best I could do. Sorry, Baba and Dedo. I tried.

Ron was understandably unsettled. After an initial “what?” factor, he quickly extricated himself from the situation as the kid (OK, just a young political operative) behind him gently nudged him on the shoulder. There were friendlier hands to shake.

Now I understand some of my fellow bloggers and their incessant political insiderness. Politics can be fun, can’t it? I know I enjoyed my moment before ordering a vodka tonic to accompany my free popcorn.

After all, fun is fun.

  • christopher (unverified)

    Chris, it's hard to understand why you are posting on Blue Oregon. You hate political races? Last time I heard, that's how democracy works. Two candidates go at each other and one wins. That's what this whole site is about.

    "He’s a great teacher; one that hates the teacher’s union because the state and national union have pretty much lost their way. In other words, he’s up for grabs politically."

    As a pretty good teacher myself, I wonder why you conflate great teaching and slagging on unions.

    Obviously this guy isn't up for grabs if the first thing he does when he meets Saxton is give him a verbal slap in the face. C'mon, Chris. Kulongoski is being outspent 2-1. If it wasn't for my union, the OEA, he'd be outspent 3-1.

    I don't get what you are trying to accomplish with this post. We're on the verge of major gains statewide and nationwide, and you're taking cheap shots at the people that are making it happen.

    I spent the day going door-to-door for Brading. You spent the day at the game and writing a snarky post. You can do better.

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    I commend you for keeping a stiff upper lip with Saxton. Just remember, we will have the last laugh on election night.

  • the other chris (unverified)

    Yeah, I'm the teacher that stuck it to Saxton. First of all, the game was great. Shoulda been there. The best part is, my sticking it to Saxton (and rattling the crap out of him, from the looks of things) did more damage to his confidence, and his campaign, than all your nerdy door-to-door pandering. Secondly, I hate the unions because the only thing they genuinely care about is money. They don't care about restoring discipline to classrooms, or bringing back a sense of hard work and achievement, or clearing the school of incompetent administrators. Teacher unions tend to attract mostly washed up, dead weight has-beens who topped out on the salary scale long ago and don't care about kids anymore. They've grown weary of blowing all of their money on golf clubs and Lane Bryant pantsuits, and OEA conventions are the only places they can go to get laid. (Trust me, I went to one my second year of teaching, and the last place I saw that many happy-to-be-there fat people was All You Can Eat Night at the Olive Garden.) So, yeah, I stuck it to Saxton, and pissed him off. The best part was when he shook my hand, realized I was busting his balls, and looked freaked out when I wouldn't let go. It was my very own Christopher Walken moment, and it felt fine. No need to thank me.

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    Other Chris, I'm still having trouble reconciling your hatred of Ron Saxton with your hatred of teacher's unions. If it weren't for the teacher's union, he'd win -- and then he'd pursue exactly what you hate so much.

    I'm certainly not one to pretend that any organization is 100% perfect (given that they're created and run by imperfect humans) -- but let's not pretend that OEA's massive investment in defeating Saxton doesn't matter.

  • Andi (unverified)

    You fucking democrats know jack shit about the issues. You are all brainwashed by the crazyman him self Howard "The Screamer" Dean. Vote Saxton.

  • Cwech (unverified)

    Mr. Troll who calls himself "Andi" thank you for contributing to the troll defense fund, you have just given $10 (poor college student money) to Sal Peralta (D) in HD 24.

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    The Other Chris aka [email protected]

    Wow. As a teacher for the past 14 years, who gave up a career as a professional broadcaster to do so, I'm almost at a loss to respond to your post. Your email "handle" and comments remind me of some of the students in our high schools.

    My union, (and frankly it is your union as well) does defend the rights of professional teachers.  It does not defend administrators. (They have their own separate union.)  My union does have workshops on student discipline and makes sure contracts include language so teachers can attend classes at the post-secondary level so we can receive more education so we can become better educators.
    I am proud of the OEA and am proud being the union rep on my school campus. And, I am proud of the PAC money I contribute to make sure that Kulongoski and others are supported during their political campaigns.  (You have a choice whether or not you want to contribute but if you don't want to let me know and I'll throw in your fairshare.)
    I've covered politics as a reporter.  I've written and lobbied a bill for school safety that was signed into law.  This year is more important than ever for Oregon.  I hope you have an opportunity to use some of that emotion you had this weekend to make a difference through politics to make sure you and your students get every opportunity necessary.
  • bluetick (unverified)

    Football huh? Well how much does money does a university football team suck up that could be going to the classroom? In this person's opinion football games at Oregon's colleges and universities are nothing but welfare entertainment programs for the well healed. So I get the choice. I can be taxed for football,or I can be taxed for salaries, but I don't appreciate being taxed for both. bluetick

  • anon (unverified)

    Ok, since 'the other Chris' briefly has the microphone here, let's explore this before the moment is gone.

    What would be the potent "in your face" comment you would make this morning if you were to unexpectedly come across Governor Kulongoski in the hallway outside a breakfast meeting? Let's say it's a OSU Beavers celebration breakfast at 9:30am, you shake hands, Ted's got your attention, and he's got time to hear your opinion.

    If you hate the teachers union (your own words), there's an equally strong pent up frustrated comment waiting to be expressed (to Ted about OEA), no?

    So let's hear it.

    We will learn something by your answer.

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    My sense is, Ted Kulongoski could and would engage a person in a respectful discussion when confronted with a tart comment from a Saxton Republican.

  • christopher in boring (unverified)

    My wife is a teacher as well as some of the other people on this posting. She went to the Union when her building was leaking through the roof causing some mildew and mold problems. The moisture was the cause of respiratory problems for the staff that worked in the building. When she spoke with the administration of the school, she got no response. When she spoke with Union staff, they made engineers check the problem and have since begun the process of having the district reimburse the teachers for the sick time and medical co-payments lost due the the lack of maintanence. Yes, the Union made that happen. My wife works hard and is very disciplined in her work, she would not rely on the Union to make her that way and she does work with dead weight at times, dont we all?

  • Pat malach (unverified)

    Well how much does money does a university football team suck up that could be going to the classroom?

    Umm, the football program at Oregon, like most men's football and basketball programs, makes money.

    A mind is a terrible thing to leave empty.

  • No more italics (unverified)


  • Sarah (unverified)

    Other Chris, You called canvassing for Brading "nerdy pandering" and claimed that your incident with Mannix was much more effective. Talking to voters face to face has been proven to be the most effective tool.

    Just though you might like to know before you say something dumb like that again.

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    Umm, the football program at Oregon, like most men's football and basketball programs, makes money.

    One minor note - that's true for Division I, but not generally true for Division II and III.

  • Professor Zinger (unverified)

    Yeah, I heard that the reason Mannix lost in '02 wasn't because of the incredible home-stretch turnout efforts... it was because somebody said something glib to him two weeks beforehand.

    I'm sure Saxton is still reeling from it... but that damn biased media - you probably won't see a TV news story or a newspaper article on The Zinger. But we here... we'll remember this day as the day it started turning in our favor... and only we will truly know why.

    Guys - we should move all of our campaigning resources into "Zinger Crews"... we'll roam football games looking for Republican candidates to insult and give awkward handshakes to.

    Man- why didn't we think of this sooner!?

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    Posted by: Andi | Oct 29, 2006 12:57:53 AM You fucking democrats know jack shit about the issues. You are all brainwashed by the crazyman him self Howard "The Screamer" Dean. Vote Saxton.


    You forgot "and your mother dresses you funny". Oh and do you mean that Howard Dean who was 100% correct on Iraq?

    What a tool.

  • alantex (unverified)

    "Umm, the football program at Oregon, like most men's football and basketball programs, makes money."

    Does "makes money" mean that these programs return a surplus to the University for academic and scholarship programs? Or does "makes money" mean they are able to pay for their jazzy uniforms, coaching and support staff, stadiums, chartered airplanes, and publicity?

    And does "makes money" mean from tickets, refreshments, souvenirs, television broadcast rights, etc. Or does "makes money" mean from those things plus huge subsidies from businesses hoping to profit from a team's reflected glory and wealthy alumni whose "charitable contributions" might otherwise fund the actual purposes of an educational institution?

    <h2>Just asking.</h2>

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