Portland: The city that doesn’t work

In this damp and cruel cold it may not be apparent, but my overall disinterest in all things academic betrays the fact that it is spring out there. And despite the fact that the quarter is just beginning, the occasional sunny day and reemergence of all things living leaves one at ease, relaxed and generally motivated to do, well, nothing. And there’s nothing wrong with that. We are, after all, college students and with that financially dubious title comes the privilege to kick back and slide by as we watch the seasons change. There’s nothing wrong with a little laziness after all. It’s not like we’re deeply ensconced in local politics or anything – right? Even if we were, the precedence is set, and in Portland, land of extended adolescence, doing nothing is next to godliness.

Just look at Tom Potter. Everybody loves Tom Potter. After all, he’s just like us – he rides a bike, he loves getting laid, hates the FBI and can really tie one on. So what if he can’t come up with a decisive plan to rescue our drowning school system. It’s not like he’s not trying. He came up with that awesome tax plan right? You remember the one that was so identical to the plethora of formerly proposed tax increases that it died before it even hit the public. I mean he tried right? He holds caucuses, hears what people have to say. Isn’t that enough? So what if he sits by while Vicki Phillips moves the Baptists onto our campuses and Portland teachers are reduced to digging in trashcans for refundables with which to buy classroom supplies. He’s a cool guy. He’s into eco-roofs.

So what if he’s letting the development wolves swallow up our city with no regard to Portland’s roots or the region’s history? Why should Tom Potter be proactive in keeping the middle class in Portland or bringing in new industry? Tom Potter’s not a proactive type of politician; he’s a listening type. He had no platform going into to office, why develop one now? And in that case why should any political candidate in Portland develop one?

Just look at Amanda Fritz, who (despite The Oregonian’s ungrounded speculation) has a very good chance of beating two-term councilman Dan Saltzman in the upcoming City Council elections. What about Fritz, who has a history of neighborhood activism, a record as a fervent opponent of pointless development and has been described as “strident” and “angry” by Randy Leonard, a professional shit kicker himself – what platform is she running on? None. Nothing. Why bother? She’s not Dan Saltzman – isn’t that something?

According to the “On the issues” section of her web site, if elected Fritz plans to “restore trust in government,” to “run the city like a well functioning family” and to “listen then lead.” She offers no substantial examples of her plan for Portland outside of opposition to the OHSU tram’s increasing price tag, which in the land of stance-making is like coming out strong against killer robots or the bubonic plague – easy on the grounds of fantasy because it’s not going to happen. Fritz isn’t obligated to have a platform or any defined plan. She can win easily enough by simply not being Dan Saltzman. That alone is reason enough for many Portlanders. I mean that’s how Tom Potter won isn’t it – by not being Jim Francesconi. Why buck the trend?

Because not being Jim Francesconi isn’t enough anymore – Potter’s not been Jim Francesconi for long enough now. It’s time for him to start being a mayor. We need leadership in this city that accomplishes something, that does something – anything. How do we know that Amanda Fritz is going to get anything done if elected? I’m not voting for someone who’s not Dan Saltzman – I need more than that.

Things aren’t getting any better here. If we don’t find some leadership that’s going to recognize and answer that, then Portland is in dire straights. This election voters need to demand answers from our candidates, and maybe if we start holding the Amanda Fritzes, Emilie Boyles, Dan Saltzmans and Eric Stens accountable then we can light a fire under the ass of Tom Potter. Then, who knows, even Ted Kulongoski might get something done. Naw, I’m just shitting you with that last one.