|Photo: KOIN Local 6|
Charlie Hales, with his emphasis on maintaining streets and roads, came off as the more reasonable man in the debate, but his far left proclivities are Sam Adams light. Like Sam, Hales hates guns because apparently guns are inherently evil. He hates guns as much as he loves budget sucking street cars and the composting plan. You know, like Sam.
After convincingly holding forth on the outrageous mission creep on the part of Randy Leonard's Water Bureau, Hales then turned around and said he thought fluoridating the water was just fine!
The City Council's light speed decision to boom! fluoridate the water without asking, you know, the people DRINKING the water should have provided more fodder for discussion but, no, both candidates were fine with it.
Jefferson Smith alluded to the hasty City Council process, but said he was in favor of fluoridating the water too. He said his wife had convinced him that children were missing school with tooth decay and he needed to stop that, therefore fluoridating the water for everyone was the answer. Huh, I always thought the dentist was the answer. Guess not.
Smith was at his best when he talked about the folks east of 82nd Avenue being ignored by the central-Portland-focused City Council. But he lost me when he said there should be a funding formula to give that section of town simply more money without having a vision for its use.
Smith tossed off crowd pleasing, self deprecating riffs throughout the one hour. They provided the only bright spots in his fatuous, sonorous oratory. If you could measure words, his would be like mushrooms, there are a lot in the bag but they don't weigh much.
Both are in favor of the ridiculous Art Tax---which charges every person living in Multnomah County a $35 head tax and then hands over that money to the Regional Arts Commission and some to the schools. There! That'll fix the school arts funding problem! I predict the question in two years if this thing passes: 'Wait, why is most of the money going to government and not the classroom again?'
Smith's only quibble with the Arts Tax is that it's not 'progressive.' It's the same for everyone and, therefore, rich people pay the same as the poor. Hey, I know, how about if we stop trying to make teachers rich on the backs of the paying public--and at the expense of our kids--so we don't have to have stupid $35 per head Arts Tax? Or, why don't we stop letting charlatans walk off with hundreds of thousands of dollars to start Hip Hop High School? Or allowing charlatans in government talk you out of property taxes in urban renewal areas? And, finally, why don't we let the schools and their levy and taxing authorities raise their own funds and keep the county and the city, which have no funding authority for schools, out of it?
And on the bi weekly garbage pick up and composting issue: both said they had problems with it, but are learning to like it. In fact Hales said it was a good program and he wouldn't want to mess it up because it's in place already. That's vision. Those trees along Lincoln Street and Macadam/Highway 43 were in place already, but that didn't stop the government from chopping them all down to put in place street cars and light rails nobody wants.
Smith said he had concerns about people with small kids and dirty diapers festering in trash cans for two weeks at a time. He said we might have to make provisions for them if--IF--there came to be problems with filth. If?
Carving out special waivers or exemptions for garbage and composting is the wrong answer. Scrap, heh, the program for EVERYONE and get back to the basics. I pay for you to pick up my garbage and recyclables and you stop trying to socially engineer my spare time.
No one asked about the leaf tax. Too bad. Betcha they both would have loved that too, except for it not being 'progressive' enough.
Both were asked by Mike Donahue, who asked the toughest questions last night, about their skeletons in their closets. Hales missed an opportunity to talk about the lack of competitive advantage for Oregon businesses when talking about living in Stevenson, Washington, saying the move was 'always about family, never taxes.'
About the time Jefferson Smith was quipping inside Lincoln Hall about his skeletons, stories were breaking outside that Smith had lied about punching a drunk girl in the face at a college frat party. The newest iteration of the story gives perhaps more context to the melee which was settled out of court and resulted in Smith going to diversion.
The woman now says Smith was trying to get her drunk so he could have sex with her. He told her if she would pound down a 40 that she wouldn't have any morals to worry about. Links here. He also said at his news conference about the incident that he had not any 'meaningful contact' with the woman since it happened. Except that was a lie. Against the order he signed 19 years ago, he actually visited the woman before the news conference. This parsing of words and disdain for the public and the truth are bad juju in a mayor. I think we've already learned those lessons, haven't we?
Hales is the only one who alluded to the odd, bureau based, weak mayor government Portland has. He said he had experience navigating it. He didn't mention he thought it should be changed.
Until we change the way the City Council works we'll keep getting these dabblers, dilettantes and trust fund babies who need 'something to do' but have no leadership and vision and can't manage a bureau they know nothing about.
Portland plays small ball again.
KOINLocal6 has the video of the debate here.