Anybody who still doubts Mayor Tom Potter's ability to handle city council the same way he handled the police bureau obviously wasn't at last Wednesday morning's council session.
During the "open communications" section (three minutes in which anyone can talk about anything), concerned citizen Robert Hill decided to take his turn from the balcony, shouting, "MR. MAYOR AND CITY COUNCIL...." Before he could utter another word, Potter switched hats from mayor to bailiff and shut him down. A few minutes later, Hill decided he'd use the podium, but was still shouting.
"SIT DOWN!" the mayor immediately barked.
"Are you ordering me to sit down?" Hill asked.
"I'm ordering you to sit down or leave," Potter commanded. "I'll explain the rules to you, you don't explain them to me! You understand? You either understand or you'll be removed from this chamber. You'll be polite, you'll be quiet, and you've got three minutes. Anything that's disorderly, I'm going to remove you immediately. You understand that?"
I half expected the mayor's next words to be "you have the right to remain silent."
What was Hill so livid about? Portland's form of government, that's what. He yelled about dividing the city into districts, setting up proportional representation, hiring high schoolers to count ballots, and—well, I don't really know what else, because I tend to tune out people who yell and sound like they're insane.
Besides, why talk politics when you can talk rock 'n' roll? Last week, I mentioned that Quasi and the Minders were set to rock city hall in conjunction with the PDX Pop Now! Festival. Turns out, the show is only one part of a strategy by Commissioners Sam Adams and Erik Sten to make local music an "economic driver" in the city.
Over at Adams' blog, commissionersam.com, staffers Jesse Beason (Adams' office) and Jennifer Yocom (Sten's office) are asking for input on how, exactly, to make that happen. So far, people like Gang of Four bassist and Mercury podcaster Dave Allen and PDX Pop Now! organizers have chimed in, in part blasting the Oregon Liquor Control Commission for making all-ages shows nearly impossible.
Here are my suggestions: Get the OLCC out of show business, and trash the godawful canned music that plays before broadcasts of city council meetings, replacing it with something by local artists. You know, something good.
Oh, and the mayor should start a band—a free jazz band, in which he stands on the stage yelling at everyone to be quiet.
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