I wasn’t at the National Conference of Editorial Writers convention last week, so I can’t verify the accuracy of the account from Linda Seebach of Denver’s Rocky Mountain News in today’s Oregonian.

She writes that during a panel on challenges facing Portland, political pollster Tim Hibbits “observed dryly that politics in Portland covers the full range of opinion from left to far left to ultraleft.” If her representation is accurate — and if Hibbits was being serious — then there is a definite problem with his credibility from here on out, considering that more than a quarter of Multnomah County’s voters chose the Bush/Cheney box in the 2004 general election. They weren’t all in Gresham. I’m inclined to believe Seebach’s reporting here; aside from the fact that she comes from the conservative side of the fence herself, Hibbits has little good to say about liberals in general.

Seebach also trusts Hibbits for the story about Tom Potter meeting with the Critical Mass bike riders before business leaders. Never mind that Potter had been meeting with a wide variety of people in business and private forums during the two phases of his campaign for mayor, it’s a fun story for someone like Hibbits to tell as an example of how loony the city government is. And gullible people like Seebach — who admits to being surprised that “so much evidence of urban decay” was visible in Portland — like to hear those stories.

The fiction that conservatives have been driven out of the city of Portland is simply ludicrous. If it was true, the Oregonian wouldn’t have David Reinhard on its opinion pages. There wouldn’t have been any fight about the city takeover of PGE. The whining about whether Portland was business-friendly wouldn’t be taking place, because everyone would agree that everything was just hunky-dory.