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.