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Updated: Port of Bremerton image question gets ferry and Twitter audience

March 8th, 2013 by Steven Gardner

Port of Bremerton Commissioner Roger Zabinski reportedly has concerns about how the port is portrayed in the press. Apparently he rode the Bremerton-to-Seattle ferry run Friday morning. As it turns out, so did Seattle Weekly reporter editor Chris Kornelis. They were near each other, one row away. Zabinski got on the phone and didn’t mute his conversation. Kornelis posted on Twitter what he heard. Here are Kornelis’ Tweets.

8:51 OK, I’m on the Bremerton ferry, and the guy behind me is talking about this story in the CK Reporter http://www.centralkitsapreporter.com/news/196140241.html …

8:51 The story is about the Port of Bremerton, and the guy is chewing someone out because he doesn’t like how the Port is portrayed

8:52 He’s telling the person — it could be the Port CEO — that he needs to be careful about what he says to reporters

8:52 The irony is that he’s saying this IN PUBLIC on a CELL PHONE while a reporter is listening.

8:53 I’m not even eves dropping. He’s just talking about commission business loudly

8:54 “there’s no question that people cannot say that we’re not working as a team … we’re just taking the high road.”

8:54 “all these reporters are talking to one another …” and I just heard the name @davnelson

8:55 “you dont’ hear them picking on all the other …” didn’t hear the rest

8:55 “We own both the Bremerton and Port Orchard Marina …”

9:06 Bremerton Port Commissioner Roger Zabinski is sitting behind me on the ferry, on his cell scolding someone about how to talk to the press

It appears there was a break in the action, after which Zabinski got on the phone again. This time it appears to have been with a reporter. Here are the remainder of Kornelis’ Tweets.

9:37 OH, damn! He’s at it again” I wanted to give you some information on background if possible. You don’t have to reference me.”

9:38 “I know you’ve been a reporter for a while. You’ve gotta be careful if you make it look like you’re taking sides … Anyway.”

9:38 OK, so, seriously, now the commission is scolding a reporter on how to not appear to take sides. This is too much.

9:38 Sorry, commissioner … scolding the reporter, on his cell phone, while sitting behind me on the ferry

9:39 He’s talking about “cronyism”

9:49 Ok, lost the rest of the chat while we were disembarking and the commissioner took the call into the bathroom

Chris Kornelis’ Tweets can be read on at his Twitter handle @chriskornelis.

5:15 p.m. UPDATE Roger Zabinski called. He said his conversation with Thomson was one in which he reiterated his belief that the port needed a business plan, and that he did disagree with how some of Thomson’s comments came off in the CK Reporter piece. He also said he wasn’t trying to tell the reporter how to do her job.

Zabinski was curious about the ethics of reporting a one-sided conversation that was overheard.

If you’re a public official conducting official business in a public place, the public might be interested to hear about that. I say “might,” because it will depend on the issue. In fact, the issue is more important than the person, but the fact that you’re someone elected to handle that issue just makes it all the more interesting to the public. In this case it certainly would be interesting to our readers, because it was about an issue that had already been reported, albeit in another publication. In fact, the conversations were about that story.

Zabinski makes the case that he’s not on the level of a state legislator, that he is essentially a volunteer, that he can’t conduct port business while doing his day job, so he has the right to conduct that business on the ferry. He also said he wasn’t yelling. All that is probably true. The fact is, though, he was discussing public business that the public might have some interest in and he was doing it loud enough that Kornelis did not have to strain to hear what Zabinski was saying.

From our perspective it was a no-brainer to publish it here. Once it’s out in the Twitterverse it has already been reported. Secondly, it came from a source we have high trust in. Chris Kornelis not only works for Seattle Weekly, he used to work for the Kitsap Sun. He knows how to report. We trusted the accuracy of what he was Tweeting.

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8 Responses to “Updated: Port of Bremerton image question gets ferry and Twitter audience”

  1. Colleen Smidt Says:

    Ouch! This is damaging for both sides.

  2. Oliver Says:

    For both sides of what, Colleen?

  3. Colleen Smidt Says:

    One side is Roger. I like Roger and support many of his efforts as a Port Commissioner but he got more than a little sloppy and unprofessional here by choosing to have these types of conversations where and when he did and he got caught.

    The other side is the reporting of this in the manner in which it is being presented. Without published confirmation of contact with Roger for a follow-up on this incident by either member of the local media putting out or regurgitating what is basically individual speculation on an overheard but somewhat limited, one sided conversation comes off as rather sloppy and unprofessional as well.

    Everyone involved knows how to and most often does choose to conduct themselves a little better than this. Two wrongs, make that three wrongs still keeping it wrong.

    I will be looking for all involved to work together to clarify and correct this wrong and make it right for the community that relies on them to do so.

  4. Colleen Smidt Says:

    Much, much better. Thank you.

  5. Roger Gay Says:

    Comments made in public are pretty much public to anyone near enough to hear. If I twitted everything I have heard it would make for interesting reading. No substance, just bits and pieces of a one sided conversations from all kinds of people. It is interesting a “reporter” publishes one side of a conversation and never follows up the investigating process and it is published. Was this one sided conversation recorded verbatim by pen and paper typed in as it was spoken or was it recorded electronically? Just curious as to the method.

    As for Roger Zabinski, you need to invest in the “cone of silence” when using a cell phone in public. Very few people really understand how loud they talk when on cell phones.

    It is good to know that the one sided point of view that seems to be the Suns forte has been passed on to other venues, Mr. Kornelis has learned one sided reporting from the best.

    I guess a slow news day allows for one sided speculation, but it does warn everyone, public figure or not, to be careful what you say, how loud you say it and to know who is near you when you say it.

  6. Ducttapeo1 Says:

    “Everyone involved knows how to and most often does choose to conduct themselves a little better than this.”

    No, not everyone. Unfortunately, we have public officials, police, fire, and school officials locked up in some form of poor behavior. This is another example of how they act. When we complain about the younger generation having an entitlement issue, there’s usually an adult that only reinforces their perceptions.

    Our officials drive drunk, make false and misleading statements, and at times commit a variety of felony level offenses.

    How many mayors and police drive around drunk? A lot. How many officials make false and misleading statements? Bainbridge Island police, government, and a school board member going to court for a protective order. That’s a jury award and case dismissed. This is just a summary of some sloppily reported cases.

    Frequently, one can just put kitsapsun.com and Journalism 101 into Google and press enter.

  7. Stashu Says:

    Ok we all knew this guy is a goof ball, but really Roger you should think about what you say in public. You don’t think there may be folks on the Bremerton ferry that are interested in the well being of the port? Well the fact that you state the port needs a business plan tells us you are way behind the curve. Maybe it is time to step down and let someone who can craft a business plan that will get the port back in the black a shot huh?

  8. RMParker Says:

    Unfortunate that Roger wasn’t more aware of the easedropping and was overheard. More unfortunate is that the reporter chose the sleazy route rather than simply turning around and introducing themselves and asking Roger for some one on one time to clerify what was just overheard.

    This incident could have worked out well for the port, the newspaper and the citizens. To solve the pressing issues at the port is going to require help from all sides and this was not a good example of that.

    As for having a business plan, that is a very good idea. A plan with set goals, objectives and benchmarks. A firm plan that allows all employees the opportunity to save their own jobs by focusing on the primary task required. A plan that the newspaper could vet and suggest improvements for. A plan that can enlist the help of the citizens. Roger has a very valid point about the port needing a firm business plan.

    A lot of these issues can be solved but it needs all sides to dig in rather than any side turning away from the real hard issues. The days of kicking-the-can need to be done away with and forgotten as well as the errors of the past. The past can’t be changed but the future sure as heck can be.

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