City council's little-publicized plan to create a standing army of gay supermen and superwomen took one giant leap forward last Wednesday, June 14. The commissioners unanimously passed a resolution urging congress to repeal the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy that has caused an estimated 10,000 men and women to be discharged in the last decade—and replace it with a nondiscrimination policy.
The resolution doesn't actually have force behind it—it's only symbolic in nature and joins city council resolutions against the PATRIOT Act and Measure 36 that have accomplished... well, not much.
Still, it surely made all those empty seats in council chambers feel much better about themselves. Empty seats? For a topic as weighty and timely as gays in the military? It's hard to believe, but after council weighed in on hot-button issues like a business surcharge and a reform to the police and firefighter pension plan, there was little public excitement left for reforming our homophobic military.
In a touching moment, though, Mayor Tom Potter apologized for being the only council member who hadn't signed on as sponsor of the symbolic resolution. It got to his desk too late, he said. City Commissioner Randy Leonard saved the day, recommending that council vote unanimously to add his name to the sponsor list. The empty seat next to me choked up and reached for a hanky.
Maybe Commissioner Sam Adams can draft the new big gay army to fight off the hoards of neighborhood activists smashing down his door. It seems that, through some bit of oversight, neighborhood groups haven't actually been exempted from his new lobbying regulations as promised.
Earlier this year, the drafters of the lobbying rules created a provision that would exempt the associations—but only if they have 501(c)(3) nonprofit status from the federal government.
So why, then, are neighborhood groups absolutely up in arms about the lobbying rules? Turns out, only a tiny handful of the city's 95 neighborhood associations have 501(c)(3) status—most of the rest only have nonprofit status with the State of Oregon. The result: Virtually all neighborhood associations would have to register as lobbyists. Whooops! It took a couple months for the groups to figure it out, but they've now started firing off complaints to Adams' office and the city auditor.
The good news for neighborhoods: Adams has given them an assurance they won't have to register, and that the mix-up will be fixed in October—at the end of the trial period.
Squeaky wheel, meet grease.