But early last Wednesday afternoon, a mixed group of organizations and individuals stepped right up to Mayor Vera Katz' doorstep in order to present a wide-ranging list of complaints. A dozen speakers--from Copwatch, NW Rage, and the Pacific Green Party--literally lined up behind a podium in front of City Hall. And, in the broad noontime daylight, they presented everything from specific complaints about the recently enacted sit/lie ordinance, to more abstract concepts like accessibility.
Some called for the mayor's resignation. Others demanded reform within the police department. One person even asked that City Hall vote down plans for bioengineering businesses in Portland. What was shared was a deep-seated displeasure with City Hall and its stonewalling of distinct demographics in Portland.
To drive the point home, one woman held a sign that exclaimed, "No One Asked Me." Of the 70 attendees, at least 20 were there specifically to complain about the sit/lie ordinance, which took on new powers September 1; Police may now ticket persons loitering on public sidewalks. The new rules were announced at a secret meeting hosted in early August by Mayor Katz--after public input was roundly rebuffed.
Perhaps the most risky protest of the day came from Christian Gunther, a candidate for city council. With growing agitation during his five-minute speech, he shouted down the mayor--potentially his future superior.
"Mayor Katz will not be my boss," Gunther spat into the microphone. He complained that City Council has failed to find innovative policies or to champion innovative programs. "I think it is time to stop standing for this, for [City Hall] turning our golden nugget into dirt."
Gunther went on to speak out against Katz' behavior at city council meetings, where she has routinely ignored and muted opposition.
"How dare you!" Gunther yelled. "Portland has always been a model city, and I'm disgusted that now Portland kowtows to a model that is not about compassion."