50 protesters packed city hall this morning to watch Peterson's boss Doug Peterson deliver a 2600 signature petition to the mayor. And Potter's response? A COLD, WET, LAME DUCKY SHOULDER.
POTTER: No response to Peterson's pleas.
Potter, who has the power to extend Peterson's lease on SW Morrison, listened tetchily while Peterson addressed council, brandishing the signatures gathered in good faith from his customers over recent weeks.
"The perception is that I am causing the homeless problem and the riff raff in the neighborhood," said Peterson. "But that's not true. It's difficult for business owners to control people on the street."
"Mr.Peterson, your time is up," said Potter, at the three minute mark. "Let's move to the consent agenda."
And that was it. I asked John Doussard, Potter's communications boss, if that was what he thought Peterson deserved, no response. "Those are your words, not mine," he said. "I'm watching this..." and gestured to the council:
So...let's look at some of the people Potter brushed off, shall we? First, all of the people gathered in council chambers...
Among them, Peterson's employee Robert Faith, whose job is at risk thanks to Potter's stony silence:
"In a down-turning economy, the city's actually shuttering businesses?" he says. "I'm concerned that these councilors don't see that it's their responsibility to help the city. They're caretakers, for God's sake, not the masters. I hope they realize that they affect lives when they do this."
Michael Vandever (left) and Whitney Smith (right) have worked for Peterson's for a combined 32 years. "I think it's a sham," says Vandever. "This is a business that pays taxes. I think the city's neglecting its responsibility...there's just so much you can do in a business to maintain security."
Richard Ewald (left, a store employee) says he "thinks the city is expecting convenience store employees to work as police officers." Eldon Jones (right, who cleans the stores) said "there are other stores in downtown. If the city's right, maybe they should close them all."
Tanta Bod came to Portland from Romania 35 years ago and has worked for Peterson for the last seven years. She covers the 3-midnight shift at the Morrison Street store, and says she's now worried about the future. "We have a lot of good customers, not only bad customers," she said. "A lot of very good people come in. And I need my job."
Local manufacturer Mike Hendrickson is a long time Peterson's customer. "I'm here to support Doug, but also to find out how city council is going to treat small business," he said. "They're not interested in small business, only in the big money from outside. I think that the Galleria space [opposite Petersons] has been an albatross for years, and I wouldn't be surprised if the city offered Brooks Brothers a sweet deal to move in there, and now they've got to kick Peterson's out."
And they all got blown off like so much bad rubbish.