Earlier this year, while city council was debating whether to remain on the Joint Terrorism Task Force or not, federal agents assured the mayor and city leaders that they would never ever, ever, ever trample on civil liberties. However, a local small press publisher might disagree--that is, if he is allowed any free expression on the matter.
Three weeks ago, Jeremy Lassen, publisher for Portland-based Night Shade Books, created a series of collages called "Bush and Guns" and posted them to the flickr.com web site. His art project was in response to Secret Service agents shaking down an art gallery in Chicago because it housed an image of Bush with a gun to his head.
Then, on June 7, Lassen received the same treatment when agents arrived at his place of employment and interrogated him. According to his blog, questioning began friendly enough, but soon took a sterner tone when they "urged" him to remove the images and issue a statement saying he didn't advocate violence against the president. Then they asked to interview his employer, as well as his wife and members of his family.
While it doesn't appear that the feds are preparing criminal charges against Lassen, their intimidation efforts to curb his free expression worked; according to a salon.com article about the incident, he says he immediately deleted the images from the site as well as from his computer. Lassen has since been unavailable for comment. SCOTT MOORE
WE DESERVE IT!
For the past few months, the commissioners have been deciding which services and programs to cut in order to trim $6 million from the budget. But that didn't stop city council last Wednesday from approving a salary increase and padding the income of elected officials. The pay increase pushed the commissioners' salaries over $90,000.
A year ago, in the heat of the mayoral campaign, then-commissioner Jim Francesconi urged his fellow council members to turn down the annual pay increase. They declined. (Francesconi went ahead and donated his pay increase to a local education organization.)
But this year, Commissioner Sam Adams shoehorned a provision into the pay increase that allows any council member to opt out, a choice which both Adams and mayor Tom Potter have taken until the city's budget balances. PB