Interestingly, the debate over a simple city resolution has brought into clear focus the dilemma of post-9/11 politics: Give in to the firm protective hand of the federal government, or protect our civil rights and gamble on terrorism slipping through the cracks. On Wednesday, city council took a step towards deciding on which side of the debate Portland will fall.
A week ago, mayor Tom Potter raised the hackles of conservatives and FBI agents when he introduced a resolution asking that he, the police chief, and the city attorney be allowed to oversee the officers who work alongside federal agents in the Joint Terrorism Task Force.
The resolution instantly set off a brush fire of controversy. Flanked by stone-faced federal agents, FBI Special Agent Robert Jordan held a press conference where he boldly stated: "I believe the greatest threat to public safety is terrorism." The Oregonian joined in the criticism with an editorial entitled "no one is safer if Portland quits the terrorism task force."
But what opponents to the resolution are attempting to do is distract citizens from the truth. In fact, city council is not asking to withdraw from the Task Force. They simply believe that the police chief should have oversight for his officers, that the mayor should be informed about potential terrorism threats, and that the city attorney should be able to confirm that we are not violating laws. Once those accommodations are made, city council will happily agree to take part in the Task Force.
The vote on the resolution occurred after press time on Wednesday. (Though the majority of council members have pledged their support.) This vote is a precursor for the actual vote on whether Portland will parttake in the Task Force. PB
BILLS TO WATCH
The State Legislature is entering its final stretch. Here are some bills to think about (and call your local rep to encourage them to vote the right way).
House Bill 2409: Reduces wages for tipped workers.
House Joint Resolution 6: Puts health care in state constitution as a "fundamental right," forcing lawmakers to make it more affordable.