Foster Road stole Christmas.
Every year around this time, the Mercury delves into our own version of Santa’s toy bag: The voicemails that you, the apoplectic public, leave on the mayor’s opinion line. You are always so blisteringly disappointed!
This year, though. Ugh.
Some time around February, news of the city’s resolve to shave off a couple lanes of Southeast Foster Road hit, and you would not shut up about it.
You liked the idea. You hated it. You called and called.
We glumly disregarded most of those messages, and we were rosy with holiday cheer when you had something to say that didn’t revolve around Foster or the homelessness crisis.
Anyway, after sifting through more than 450 pages of your incoherent rage, we came out with this—the very best (mostly worst) of Charlie Hales’ voicemails, in his last year as mayor.
January 1, Amber: I’m a bartender at the Blue Room Bar. That’s the bar in the center of Cartlandia. I wanted to let you know, within the last three weeks, every time I [lock] up at night I have 10 to 15 homeless people hovering above me making me nervous. And now it is making my job terrifying.
January 3, unidentified male: Not only are our roads like crap, because you guys won’t seem to fix anything; now they’re covered with snow and ice and I don’t see even ONE sand truck out. What’s the problem? Is it SUNDAY and you guys are sitting on your asses, or what!!! You don’t work on Sundays? Nobody works on Sundays? Road crews don’t work on Sundays??!!
January 5, Joe: I’m calling about homelessness and homeless sweeps that are happening today at noon out at I-205; and I would really like the mayor to commit that there are not going to be any sweeps of homeless people by any means at all.
January 6, unidentified female: I’m dismayed to see millions and millions spent on bicycles. Let us not forget the cars on Clinton Street who live here too. I am completely disgusted with the city. There’s a large homeless camp down at SE 8th and Division.... Please scrape these people off the streets and do something! It’s disgusting!
January 7, unidentified male: The Portland Police just left my property after I had a verbal altercation with homeless people camped in the vacant lot next to me. My house has been broken into three times in the last 30 days. They steal my food. They use my shower. I am just tired of this.
January 8, Pete: I have to use a cane and there are way too many bicycles on the sidewalks right now. I understand Nike’s going to be moving ahead with this program to have bicyclists. Please make sure that on those kiosks there will be no sidewalks with bicycles on them. Please keep us safe.
January 11, Virginia: I would like to come down and pick up the mayor and drive him up NW Macleay and NW Alpine Terrace and see all of the potholes. They are an absolute disgrace.
January 12, Milt: I want illegal camping in the City of Portland enforced. I don’t like these homeless terrorist people pitching their tents anywhere they want. Most of them are just making a political statement that they want something that everybody else has worked for and they want it for nothing.
January 14, Luther: I am puttin’ $2,000 into a delivery of Tillamook Cheese. That’s about 800 pounds of cheese. The men of Aloha here are going to move this delivery here—800 pounds of cheese—into the Bethlehem Lutheran Church. This is the 200th anniversary of Remington Fire Arms this year.
January 15, Dan: I just heard on NPR that the city bought the Central Post Office for $88 million so they can build more high-rises for more people from out of state. Is there going to be anything left of Portland by the time you get through with us, or is it just going to be another city with a bunch of high-rise apartments for people from out of state to live in?
January 16, Norman: [Norman is quite drunk, and says there needs to be some humor in the classroom. Chief Rosie Sizer tried to make a difference and was fired for doing it. Chewbacca tries, too. The Japanese say, “sacre bleu!”]
January 20, Milt: I own property in the City of Portland and I’m absolutely opposed to illegal camping by what you characterized as homeless people. If poor people are camping illegally on the streets, then they should be dealt with as lawbreakers!
January 22, Cathy: I’ve read the whole new ordinance about the state of emergency that the City Hall has declared for these homeless people—but what about US?
January 25, Catherine: I’m calling to request that Charlie Hales makes a statement in support of Harney County opposing armed occupation of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge. The vast majority of Portlanders support the prompt eviction, arrest, and prosecution of these criminals.
January 25, Jim: This is about that deal, Bundy, down there in Oregon. Why don’t Charlie talk to Obama and get that resolved, and why don’t you guys arrest that person, man? Is everybody scared of him?
January 26, Paul: I’m a resident of Cornelius, Oregon, meaning that I am probably within your jurisdiction.... I wanted to call and thank you for the work that you’re doing to block the coal export terminal in Oregon and such, and let you know that I have your back.
February 2, Pat: I really can’t believe you’re going to move the Right 2 Dream Too over by OMSI. It’s just not the right fit. Try again. Thanks. Bye.
February 3, unidentified: Yeah, Charlie: You’re a phony-assed fuckin’ punk—you and that Novack [sic] little punk piece of shit that follows you around lookin’ like a mummy. You are a... fuck you, man! Got it? FUCK you!
February 4, Ladonna: I live at the junction at Springwater Trail.... There’s more people in here. Last night somebody, at 1:30 in the morning, was chasing some geese around because they were just being disturbed by the geese squawking. There was about a dozen geese out there at dark—squawking.
February 4, Kirstin: I am calling about a sign that’s up in Jamison Square that says, “Notice to public, proposed 42-person tent site for self-governing homeless camp.” I’m calling to find out more about this, because it doesn’t sound very appealing.
February 9, Greg: If you drive by 92nd and Division, it is a mess with all the homeless camps. They’ve actually got cell phones. They could get their own jobs—somewhere else!
February 10, Jeff: Our mayor wasn’t present last night at a community meeting dealing with this Bullseye pollution that’s now been spread throughout SE Portland. I know that we’re not builders of shiny buildings. We’re just residents trying to raise our families; but I do think the mayor’s office needs to step up and work for the people of Portland around this issue.
February 16, Cathy: This message is for the mayor’s office regarding protection for women cyclists on the Springwater Trail and in North Portland. The question is regarding mace and if we can use mace.
February 16, Norman: I just heard that you’re going to cut that Foster Road down to two lanes, and I wondered what the heck that’s going to do. If I get behind a bus, it’s going to take me half an hour to get anywhere.
February 16, Coleen: I just wanted to share my concern about the air quality issue and let the mayor know that it isn’t just SE Portland. The cadmium exposure maps show that the plume of increased levels extends over the river, and in fact, over City Hall as well.
February 16, unidentified male: Why don’t you do something about Bullseye Glass? At least say at least something. Get off your ass, man. Come on. We need you.
February 16, unidentified female: I just read Charlie Hales’ homeless plan about the camping and all of that. I totally agree with camping on unused city property; but I just really completely disagree that we now will be allowing camping on city sidewalks.
February 17, unidentified female: I’m calling to register a complaint? I heard that Foster is being changed to two lanes, which is ridiculous? It’s going to block up traffic for everybody? So, thanks for that?
February 18, Charles: There are a lot of Masonic people assaulting Masonically with their invisible powers and stuff. The Napa police have refused to help me, so I’m calling different police departments in the USA.
February 22, Mace: I’m actually calling in support of the lane dieting on Foster Road, because I’m a cyclist and that traffic area is dangerous beyond belief.
February 22, unidentified male: I live on Foster Road and I want you to not make it into less lanes for driving, because I like to drive with MORE lanes. That is all.
February 22, Christopher: Now that camping is legal in Portland, I’m wondering if I can go ahead and camp on my property—and if there’s going to be any kind of problem with that. Also, since we’ve decided to not enforce the regulations in Portland, I’m wondering if I can get my fines back from when my house had the lawn too high.
February 23, Colleen: I want to know if it’s true that Melissa—the lady from Sweet Cakes by Melissa—that they went after her and they charged her $135,000 for refusing to bake a cake for homosexuals for their wedding!! Last night I read that she had three small bank accounts and she went to get money out of one of her bank accounts and all her money has been taken. If this is true, this is no different than a drug addict breaking into your house and robbing you!! If you have a problem with them, it’s not them that you have the problem with—it’s GOD that you have the problem with—and you are to bow before Him.
February 25, Paulette: If you haven’t noticed, there is already a Right 2 Dream Too under each and every one of our East Side bridges already right now. The idea of creating ANOTHER area in our Southeast area, which is struggling so much in this central city area, is just ridiculous.
February 29, Alice: I am interested in moving to your city. I just needed to know if someone could send me some packets about your city and state.
February 29, unidentified male: WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU GUYS!!?? Foster Road is two lanes??!! Are you insane!!??
February 29, Christine: I just wanted to say thank you for the emergency shelter. Sorry I didn’t have time to write a thank you note. It’s a great service to me. I really enjoy Portland. Thank you, Charlie Hales. Thank you.
March 1, Patrice: I live out in the Palm Springs area and we recently just had a homeless camp that was demolished. We are trying to talk to the mayor here about putting together a tiny home housing area. I know that you all have a few out in your area, and we wanted to see if there’s any way that someone could contact us and just let us know the impact of how that’s working in your area.
March 8, Be[?]: I have some suggestions for the people living in the tents on the streets. What about a mail box for them, so they can have a mail and everything and make that easy for them? Anyway, thank you.
March 9, [unidentified perennially-annoyed-by-the-voicemail-system male]: You’re still insulting the callers by asking us to leave a clear message—like we’re all a bunch of babbling nutcases. That’s what the mayor thinks of the people of Portland. A lot of us are very disturbed about the arts tax. It’s just another way of bleeding the public for every nickel you can.
March 15, Nancy: I’m standing here under the Hawthorne Bridge watching people watching a woman taking a shit. It’s a disgusting, disgraceful display—and the fact that you are ignoring this and not doing anything is completely disgusting and irresponsible.
March 15, Jim: My friends call me Big Jim. I’m just calling to tell you that I SUPPORT cutting Foster Road down to two lanes.
March 15, Rick: I’m calling to voice my support for Bullseye Glass. Bullseye Glass is a Portland icon. It’s world-renowned. So please use the science instead of emotion to help save Bullseye Glass from what’s happening.
March 18, Derrick: I’m kicking it out in Southeast. I’m in the middle between Holgate and Foster Road. I am aware that the road is going to be redone to some degree. I want to say hail to the chief! Hail to the chief! I may not agree with you on everything, sir, but on this one, I’m standin’ there right beside you in your pocket with all the lint and a little dirt and the change and all that. MAN!
March 23, unidentified: Just ignore this message. There’s nothing you need to worry about. There’s no reason that you should even care about this message. I’m testing something. I’m testing... testing... testing... testing..., testing.
March 29, Justin: I’m the owner of Base Camp Brewing Company on SE 9th and Oak. I’m calling about a homeless issue along our street that is threatening my employees and losing me business. I’m about to launch a major war against the City of Portland if it’s not cleaned up.
March 30, Justin: Yeah, you fuckin’ liar: You’re not returning any calls. Return my call, motherfuckers!
[Editor’s note: According to news reports, Base Camp Brewing Company owner Justin Fay was arrested on March 30 for calling 911 seven times, then approaching officers with an assault rifle. Records show he’s since pleaded guilty to one felony and one misdemeanor in connection with the incident.]
March 30, Dale: I’m sort of new to Portland and have heard about something called Last Thursday—some kind of arts festival; and I wanted to find out about that.
April 1, unidentified female: I just saw an article recently that Portland is going to be doing a horse trail all through the city. I’m all for the horses.
April 7, Philippa: I’m a resident of Eastmoreland. There’s a lady living in the woods. Her campsite is impeccable, and she was told yesterday by some neighbor or somebody that she has to move. This woman has nowhere to go. I would like to find somebody to help this woman. I feel terrible about it.
April 8, Shirley: I’m absolutely in favor of the fact that the mayor has cancelled his trip to Mississippi. They should be ashamed of themselves the way they are treating some of our population with their new restrictive orders. I am in my mid-80s.
April 8, unidentified female: We moved here from San Francisco five years ago and bought a house in Ladd’s Addition and woke up this morning and there’s somebody camping out on the sidewalk. In Ladd’s Addition, in a historical neighborhood, it seems to me it’s crazy to let homeless people camp out on the sidewalks.
April 8, unidentified male: It’s really sad that you didn’t do anything you could to get baseball back. It is so SAD that you have no vision and you don’t LIKE baseball and your priorities are all weirded out that you don’t even think about baseball. UNBELIEVABLE.
April 12, Judy: I’m calling Mayor Hales today with regards to keeping the keeping-fossil-fuels-out-of-Portland amendment. I want to let him know that I fully support that action and his current work with climate activism.
April 13, Mark: [Mark is very concerned about the 57 acres of wildlife habitat at Broadmoor Golf Course. He’d like to save the trees. Our green reputation in Portland is becoming a sham. He wants those trees and 57 acres saved.]
April 14, Arnold: [He agrees with North Carolina that boys should be able to go into a man’s bathroom and that’s it. They can put in another bathroom or port-a-potty for the people that seem to have a problem with these laws.]
April 18, Stephanie: [Stephanie is concerned about the impending “Make America Great” rally for Donald Trump at Portland State University. She wants the police to protect the assembly from the left-wing chaos.]
April 20, unidentified female: I just read that you’re being sued over your stupid homeless policy. That is wonderful! You guys deserve it.
April 25, unidentified female: You people have no f-dot-dot-g idea how to run the city. It’s so painfully obvious, reading this thing from the newspaper. Good riddance! I just hope we survive ’til you’re gone.
April 25, unidentified male: You’re a slave to the system. Your original birth certificate you will never own, and you will never see because it’s a treasury note.
May 12, unidentified female: I wanted to say to Charlie Hales, he’s probably been one of our better mayors. I am sure he’s tired and just wants to get out of it, but it’s just too bad he got locked up with Steve Novack [sic].
May 23, Jason: I’m a resident in Multnomah, and I heard that they’re talking about placing all these homeless people out here at the Sears homeless shelter. This doesn’t bode well.
May 25, unidentified female: I’d just like to say that the police didn’t do a very good job a few minutes ago when they came to the homeless camp under the Broadway Bridge again... it’s awful. Maybe pay for me to move into a safer neighborhood and a safer apartment, complex. Thanks. Bye.
May 31, Sharon:, I will not be coming back to this city. When I got off at the bus depot from the MAX, I had to walk through the creatures parked all over the street. It was dirty, filthy, dogs, people. This is the only city that I’ve been in that gets it right out there where the tourists can see it. SHAME on you!
June 3, Terron: I’m now a resident of Portland and I intend to vote for Donald Trump; and I’m sure Donald Trump’s going to come to Oregon and have a rally—and I’m going to go to that rally; and I certainly hope to god that nothing happens to me at that rally, because I want to be able to express MY rights, too.
June 9, Laura: I’m really irritated—and you can pass it on to the old mayor—that having the ships come in at rush hour is really fuckin’ stupid. So, maybe don’t do that next year. Thanks for fuckin’ up my whole day.
June 15, Kelly: I just want to voice my opinion about this train wreck derailing of the oil cars. We must not allow this tragedy to lead to a larger one by cutting the oil trains.... I believe that our God gave us this oil to use for everyone.
June 15, unidentified male: I just listened to Charlie Hales’ interpretation of the Second Amendment to the Constitution? This guy must be brain-dead. Was Charlie Hales really elected as mayor of Portland, Oregon? Charlie Hales has just been nominated for the Stupidity Award for 2016.
June 24, Homer: Yeah, it’s Homer Williams calling for Charlie. You guys, it’s after 8 o’clock in the morning!
July 11, Peter: Police lives matter more. Please get that through to the City Council and mayor’s office. Police lives matter more! This is craziness going on out there. They matter more and they better be obeyed when they tell somebody to do something, and if they aren’t, there will be consequences.
July 20, unidentified male: Hey, Charlie Tuna. It’s me again. I just spent two weeks, 5,000 miles, in 14 states, and I did not see one single homeless camp in any of the major cities.... You got ’em all in Portland, Oregon. Thanks for bringing ’em all to Portland, Charlie! You better run for re-election. I want you embarrassed.
July 21, Adam: We are from Soddy-Daisy, Tennessee, and we’re visiting the City of Portland this week, and I would like leave some comments.... From the moment we left the airport and every single way we turned, we were faced with disgusting images and smells of the homeless. Every TriMet stop smells like urine—especially the Saturday Market one.
July 28, Joe: Charlie Hale, you’re the biggest fucking pussy on the planet! You fuckin’ let the homeless people fuckin’ run your life. You fuckin’ cocksucker! You can fuckin’ suck my dick and kiss my ass!
August 8, Raymond: I was wondering why Charlie Hales is keeping the homeless people in Lents. Is it because there are no Jews living out here? I understand that’s what the reason is. Thank you.
August 31, Jesse: I’m just calling to check in and tell you what a great job you’re doing. Good luck.
September 7, Marion: [Marion is calling to complain about the hold music on the Parks and Recreation Department’s hold line. It was absolutely intolerable. It was screeching. It’s horrible, something that some people call classical music. She wants to know how to get rid of it.]
September 9, Norman: [Norman is imitating a duck and/or a chicken. I cannot determine if he’s trying to verbalize any complaint while he does this. He’s now getting on the 71 bus.]
October 5, David: [David is wondering why City Hall is shut down. He thinks it’s wrong for the city to ignore the public about police contract negotiations without the justice department being heeded.]
October 6, Joseph: [He says absolute corruption was displayed by the police force at City Hall. The public must have their input on police body camera matters. This is the definition of a police state when the police call all the shots.]
October 13, unidentified Male: [He believes City Hall is a bunch of white motherfuckers who are making backroom deals.]
November 10, unidentified female: [She is venting to the mayor to say that she’s disgusted with Portland protesting the election. She cried when Obama was elected the first four years. Nobody pitied her when she cried and wondered what she was going to say to her kids about his being elected. She’s going downtown to find a Trump rally to demonstrate in.]
November 10, unidentified “taxpayer”: [He’s a taxpayer who is mad as hell at the mayor for letting the protesters vandalize property and close freeways. It is not democratic for election losers to block other people’s rights.]
November 10, Jesse: [Charlie’s wife gave a Portland-themed scarf to a guest at an event a week or so ago. He would like to purchase one of those scarves. He wants to know where he could buy one before he goes on a trip to Thailand.]
November 11, unidentified male: [He wants the mayor to get a set of balls and haul in those rioters tonight. He’s not paying his fuckin’ taxes for nothin’, you know.]
November 14, Steven: [He wants to know why the mayor is allowing this shit to happen. There’s not one goddamn cop around. He’s getting ready to get in his one-ton truck and drive through those sons of bitches—ARMED! He does not think it appropriate for the mayor to kowtow to those little faggot motherfuckers. He’s sick and tired of these little peckerheads who don’t have a job and have nothing to do but cause chaos.]
November 14, Mark: [He opines that the mayor is a fucking piece of progressive shit.]