Attention homeless people of Portland: All of your problems are now solved!
Nobody thought it would be that easy to turn your lack of a home into just a minor inconvenience but, with the stroke of a pen, we did it. And by "we," I mean "Mayor Tom Potter," and by "solved all your problems," I mean "gave you a couple extra places to go poop."
Hooray! Now, if you could just disappear from downtown so the rest of us could forget that you exist, everything will finally be in order.
Late last week, Potter began crowing about the completion of the final provisions of his "Street Access for Everyone" project—specifically, that he got some benches installed and opened up the first-floor restrooms at city hall between 11 pm and 7 am. Because of a daring 3-2 vote in June, Potter needed to get these last promised amenities in place in order to enforce his and the Portland Business Alliance's (PBA) sit-lie ordinance, which bans sitting or lying on downtown streets. With another vote scheduled for Wednesday, August 15, he'll be able to waltz back into city council and demand his draconian rule be approved. And since the ordinance is tied to increased funding for a permanent day center for the homeless—and money from the PBA—it's almost guaranteed to pass.
That loud sucking sound you hear? That's Portland's conscience disappearing into a PBA-funded black hole.
But don't despair! While the city may have sold out the homeless for 30 pieces of silver, it's more than willing to step up to help underpaid factory workers around the globe. On August 29, city council will finally discuss a sweat-free ordinance, which would require the city and its contractors to purchase goods (like uniforms) from places that don't use sweatshop labor.
For more than a year, the city and labor activists have negotiated the one sticking point in the ordinance: Who is going to enforce the rule? The city wants to handle it, essentially, in-house, while the activists want Portland to join a nationwide consortium that monitors similar ordinances around the country. If they can't resolve the dispute, Portland could be in the sticky position of approving an ordinance the sweat-free activists hate.
In other bodily fluid news! During last week's annual "Hermiston Mayor's Tailgate Party" in Pioneer Square, Commissioner Dan Saltzman competed, unsuccessfully, in a watermelon-seed spitting contest. His distance: 17 feet.
But, irony of ironies—spitting isn't allowed in city parks. Saltzman's office responded that he was within the law because the square was officially sanctioned for seed spitting. Isn't that the excuse George Michael used?