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Friday, May 11, 2007

It's Canzano - the same old story

Blazers to spike new ad campaign in The Oregonian
Just as a new direction at the statewide monopoly daily begins to emerge, a setback

There was no crime committed. There is no ongoing police investigation. Nobody in the parking lot of the "Safari Sports Club" in SE Portland Sunday night reported seeing a gun in the hands of either Darius Miles or John Canzano.

In fact, by the time a police cruiser responded to the 9-1-1 call reporting a gunshot in the lot, the Trail Blazers' enigmatic, 6'9" small forward and the controversial Oregonian columnist weren't even around.

Those are important distinctions, because Si Newhouse wants the Blazers' ad dollars back. The state's only major league team pulled out of The Oregonian in protest over the strident, anti-management drum-beating that culminated in the Rasheed Wallace give-away three years ago.

Miles and Canzano's latest incident means that a renewed Oregonian-Blazers ad campaign - said to have had new boss Todd Leiweke's approval - is now on hold.

A one-page report -- No. 07-31945 -- ends up raising an important question for Newhouse and Blazers' owner Paul Allen.

How long does this have to go on?

According to the report, Miles and Canzano were hanging out in the corner of the club parking lot among a group of other males. Someone fired a gun. Police were called. The group dispersed. And the officer who responded searched the lot and found one spent Smith & Wesson .40-caliber casing in the corner of the lot.

The bouncer, James Broaddus, said the duo arrived at the club late and stayed only for a little while. Then, Broaddus said, someone in the lot reported the gunshot to an entertainer going by the name "Hennesy," who was leaving the club after work. The bouncer called 9-1-1.

Again, we have a case of guns and The Oregonian and a strip club, and this routine can only go on so long before something really bad happens to the Newhouse fortune.

At least this incident didn't happen in New York, you're thinking.

The monopoly franchise is in a tricky position on this one. Without a crime, or an open investigation, it can't justifiably threaten to suspend beat reporting of the Blazers for Canzano's exercise of poor judgment. All The Blazers can do is join the rest of us in being disappointed that The Oregonian editors have't yet said "enough" and decided to be part of the solution.

Steve Duin wasn't in the parking lot of the club. Renee Mitchell wasn't there. Dave Reinhart wasn't there. Somehow, the rest of the columnists never seem to show up in incident reports, or have their names called across the police scanners in this city. The more experienced journalists don't drag race down Broadway. They don't end up as part of a civil lawsuit involving a man alleging sexual assault.

Maybe the "new" reporters decided long ago that they're not adults, working in a high-profile occupation, and as a result, they've chosen to act with neither decency nor responsibility.

The editors are trying their best to assemble a boring daily paper, at least off-the-record. But as long as Canzano isn't buying into the new direction, there are always going to be weeks like this one.

We have no evidence to suggest that either Miles or Canzano view this incident as a wake-up call. Editor-in-chief Sandra Mims Rowe spoke to both on the telephone, but again, beyond, "Make better decisions, guys," her hands are tied and she's dealing with a pattern of troubling behavior that will continue until both men decide to stop it.

What we're left to hope, for the umpteenth time, is that some switch is going to go off in Canzano's head, making the scribe realize he's blowing his reputation for selling ads, one incident at a time.

Insiders maintain if they could only break up his friendship with Miles, he'd stop being in the wrong place, wrong time. Remember, though, they used to say this about Qyntel Woods and Zach Randolph, too.

Canzano probably doesn't yet know this, but Therese Bottomly, the editor assigned to coach the columnist and rehabilitate ex-Pulitzer prize winners-turned-bribe criminals, wanted to remain a mystery to the public. She undoubtedly understands that the industry can be unforgiving and Canzano is a risky career assignment.

Most of us would be embarrassed by that, but - who really cares? He hasn't written a single positive streak of columns in favor of the franchise since he arrived, but he'll get an opportunity in next time. That's the daily fish wrapper for you.

The Oregonian is prohibited by their Newspaper Guild collective bargaining agreement from asking Canzano to retire. They can't even raise the possibility of trading him to a sister paper in the sprawling Newhouse print empire. But if he doesn't want to play ball, if his body or spirit isn't willing, he should end the charade, do the decent thing and divorce himself from the paper that foolishly believed in him six years ago.

Maybe then they can get the Blazers ads back.

So how about it, Sandy? Do you have it in you to come up big when your team needs it?

Again, no crime was committed. The police aren't actively investigating the gunshot allegation at the Safari Club. It's possible that Miles and Canzano were just the unluckiest civilians in the city.

How long the streak can go on is anyone's guess.

The Oregonian, May 11, By JOHN CANZANO

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