MAYOR CHARLIE HALES' public voicemail line is kind of like Portland City Hall's comments section.
Sometimes people phone up to say something remarkable. But mostly everyone's there to say hateful or boring things they wouldn't dare say to someone's face. And, just like a comment thread, no one important's ever really listening.
However, because we're masochists, we like to run the choicest transcripts—out of dozens and dozens of pages collected by the mayor's office—at least once a year. (Except this year, for whatever reason, we're starting our selections in May and not January—which isn't so bad, since that's right when the first wave of mania over the street fee was cresting.)
It’s a good way to look back at the year that was—and also a chance to give thanks. Starting this with this one: Be glad you’re not the loyal staffer in city hall who has to listen to this crap every day and write it all down!
May 16, unidentified male: You're the city that just three months ago was talking about having a $20 million surplus. [That's not even remotely true.—Eds.] You talked five months ago and you enacted the five days of paid sick-leave ordinance. You know, we have this one-armed guy telling us, "Oh, there's a business portion of the street fee tax calibrated on a secret formula." BS—just BS!
May 20, unidentified female: I would like to know how you people at city hall can keep adding all these taxes. I'm a senior citizen and I also have cancer. How are we supposed to make ends meet?
May 21, James: If you don't give me a call back, then I'm going to have to bring out the Marines. I'm the biggest piece of shit on earth.
May 22, unidentified male: I was lookin' forward to a change from the Adams regime. And, instead of lookin' forward to something productive and beneficial that would make people like me feel better about living here, what I've gotten now with this proposed tax without a vote is just more of the same. Charlie, I can't believe the smug arrogant attitude that you and Novick have with respect to proposing and imposing a tax on us without any dialogue.
May 22, unidentified male: We're fed up with Charlie Hales gallivanting all over the world, refusing to address issues that concern the City of Portland: more panhandlers, more human cockroaches and leeches bothering people. We really need to crack down on them and enforce the law and have these people loaded into busses, taken out—way out in the country—and left to wander around and hopefully croak.
May 22, unidentified female: I'm calling about this new fee. Hales needs to be impeached. We thought Adams was bad. But Hales, you are the worst. You're ruining people's lives. That's why I don't live in Portland anymore, because of the shenanigans.
May 22, unidentified male: I'm probably calling like everyone else to complain about your stupid user fee. That's a waste of time. I'm tired of this tax crap that you keep pulling. We're not all rich. Like you. Bye.
May 23, unidentified male: Sneaking in a tax and calling it something else. These people are so sneaky, they must be taking their cues from that asshole Obama—somebody that calls himself a president. Anyway, this is pretty awful. The commissioners, they should all be voted out of office.
May 23, unidentified male: There used to be a time when you loved us and you used to answer your phone. And now you just let it go to the message machine. Probably because the people with the torches and pitchforks are out, because your street tax is not popular, okay? It's not popular.
May 29, unidentified female: You keep taking from the elderly. Other people have four, or five, or six cars to get groceries every day. Those are the people you need to tax. I hope that God will intervene in this meeting you have today and there will be justice.
May 30, Gus: This new homeowner street tax—no, I will not pay it. I absolutely forbid it. I DO WANT A PHONE CALL BACK. I not only DO—I DEMAND IT. YOU have gone too far! Goodbye.
May 30, Annette: I like Mr. Hales. I wasn't too thrilled about the gay weddings, but, hey, you know, you got to do what you go to do to stay elected.
May 30, unidentified male: I'm strongly opposed to your street tax. No, it's a fee. No, it's a tax. Let the people vote on it. This is America. You're not a dictator.
June 2, Enia: [Enia goes through her regular list of compliments to various employees throughout the city, federal, state, and county governments. There are too many to transcribe.]
June 2, Fred: If you think I'm going to pay my tax—not that I couldn't financially—but, by God I'm not goin' to. You're going to take me to jail, so help me GOD!! Boy that's a rip-off!!! The holes in the road? That comes under the GAS TAX. JESUS CHRIST. What are you trying to do there—RAPE US?!
June 3, Mary: Okay, the late-night fee on businesses open past 10 pm is dumber even than the arts tax or the road tax. This is just an attack on people who want to hear live music and maybe have a drink after 10 pm. I'm 63 years old and I still like to do that. Live music is almost the only joy I get living in Portland anymore.
June 3, unidentified female: The government's out of control, and it's unconstitutional to mandate people to pay for things. I think the people should mandate that the mayor works for free. Would you like that?
June 3, Joan: Mayor Hales needs to be impeached. His thinking is offbeat. He needs medication. He's acting like Hitler. He does not OWN the City of Portland. It's a BIG town, and BIG towns stay open until later than 10 pm.
June 4, unidentified female: Truly, since Novack [sic] hasn't left his machine on: Hales and Novack [sic] must really think the elderly and the low-income people are so stupid. We're going to campaign to keep Fish and Shultzman [sic] in. THEY support us; and you guys DISGUST us! It should go to a vote. And, DON'T play people for STUPID! You're DISGUSTING!
June 17, Sean: I was wondering if I could get the permission to start a sex offender trailer park for the predators and sex offenders who are innocent and guilty, who are denied housing, who have no money—a gated community. Also, I would like to start a cancer and diabetic trailer park—with sex offenders. My wife died of cancer, and I have diabetes.
June 19, unidentified female: You don't really need to return this call. I think I'm just angry and wanted to express it to the appropriate office.
June 19, Doug: I went to Reynolds High School. I graduated in '03. I live in Gresham. I was wondering WHY the Portland mayor has to get involved in THAT, when there are shootings that happen in Portland all the time lately, and he doesn't address any of the violence in PORTLAND—in his own TOWN.
June 19, Cheryl: This Airbnb, right now—in our neighborhood, it was single-family homes. But now all of a sudden it's younger people moving in. It is affecting the livability of the neighborhood. I live near Lents, and you're supposed to be fixing up Lents.
June 25, unidentified male: Put it up to a public vote. Make your best case. I... I could almost cry. But I'm too manly to do that.
June 26, unidentified male: I voted for you, worked for you. That will never happen again. I will be working for whoever can get you out of office. No street fees, no street fees, no street fees!
June 26, unidentified female: I want to mention your new PBOT person. She spent the evening last night texting. She came here for a big foofy job. Obviously she doesn't give a mouse's bottom what the people have to say. What disrespect! What disrespect! Anyway, that's just a couple thoughts.
June 26, Donna: It's time you start taxing corporations and stop taxing working people who are barely making ends meet at low wages. Corporations, who are they? It's fascism when you allow these corporations to rule. Stand up! They all need to pay their taxes. You're so damn weak you can't stand up for what's right.
June 30, unidentified male: You have served your last term as mayor of the City of Portland. Bye.
July 7, Virginia: I hope I have reached Portland, Oregon. I am calling you from Northern Rhode Island. We have a parade here that is supposed to be the oldest celebration of the Fourth of July. It didn't start off with a parade of this magnitude, of course, but we have that distinction. In that parade this year is a band from Portland, Oregon, called, "The Beat Goes On." They are all senior citizens and you have a national treasure. I'm sure you know about them.
July 7, Don: Since 9 pm, I've been hearing what sounds like, you know, Iraq outside, okay? This happens every FREAKING year, and your doughnut-sucking assholes never do SHIT about it, all right? Try some freaking enforcement once in your freaking life, okay?
July 7, Teresa: I'm wondering who the current mayor of Portland is—not the current president of Portland—the current mayor. Thank you.
July 9, unidentified female: I just wanted to talk to someone. I don't want to talk to a recorder. That's very rude to expect taxpayers to talk to a recorder.
July 14, unidentified female: Mr. Hales, uh, it seems to me that not too long ago you said that you would give $10 to any citizen that found waste. Well, I think probably you ought to send out $10 to every citizen... because we've all watched them spend $56,000 on the diversity training that could have been done in a conference room.
July 14, Mitch: I am curious if the mayor has any plans to reverse the every-other-week garbage pick-up. When he ran for office, he promised in a radio interview he was going to work to reverse this horrible policy.
July 15, unidentified male: I don't understand why the mayor and the city council's preventing Uber. It's a wonderful socialist thing that I think you guys would love. You allow weirdos, illegals, and everything else—why not allow Uber so people can get rides?
July 17, Grace: I don't know what Charlie Hales' involvement was in this settlement with Captain Mark Kruger, but I am absolutely outraged. This guy is a Nazi. He used city property to glorify Nazis. What is he even doing on the police force?
July 17, unidentified female: What in the world are you thinking in erasing Captain Mark Kruger's discipline having to do with memorializing and paying tribute to Nazi soldiers? Are you kidding me? Are you kidding me? I mean, what is wrong with you. Do you know that the Nazis killed six million Jews, and yadda, yadda, yadda? Are you not familiar with the Holocaust?
July 24, Anna: I am calling to ask that you leave the homeless alone. They have nowhere to go. The police are harassing them, they're torturing them, they are making them suffer. If they're pushed out of Portland, then they go to Gresham, which has no infrastructure. This is something they would do in Texas—not in Portland. So be nice.
July 28, Ricky: Hey, listen: Just keep it going, man. You know what? Adios.
July 30, unidentified male: I'm totally against Charlie Hales' press release about welcoming the immigrant children. It's not just the children, it's all the illegals. What a crock! I just heard there's smallpox down in Texas from one of these illegals.
July 31, Jill: I don't know what's happening in Southeast Portland, where I've lived for the last eight or nine years, but someone in the building office has gone out of their mind. It's going to be ugly. It's going to be hideous.
August 4, unidentified female: I'm disgusted and ashamed at the ongoing events like these soccer events, the wine and beer events, etc. Portland has turned into a paradise for people with good incomes and lives and has changed into a modern-day Sodom and Gomorrah.
August 5, Doug: The city is changing too fast. Urge the mayor to try to do something about it.
August 6, Jean: My downstairs neighbor chain smokes. Because of her fenced yard, it's like a chimney flue. She just doesn't care. She's a chain smoker, and screw you—she's going to chain smoke. Could you please comment on that? Yes, I live in Gresham, Oregon, which is in Multnomah County.
September 22, Luther: Mr. Mayor: I never spent a paper dollar for a lottery ticket with the Great Seal of the United States.
September 22, Mary: The reason I'm calling is the uncleanliness of downtown Portland. Our family walked through downtown Portland to visit several stores. One of the things we noticed was the incredibly dirty disgusting sidewalks and gutters. In fact, one store that we went to there was residue where somebody had defecated. I cannot believe that we, as civilized people here in Portland in 2014, have to step over such things in a city like this.
September 24, unidentified male: As one of the top taxpayers in the city, it's reprehensible that he is harboring an illegal alien and supporting that. This guy is a criminal. You know who I'm talking about. If he doesn't come out of the closet and starts talking about why he supports this guy, then I'm going to go to the Tribune and we're going to get this out in the open in the press. I'm in the one percent. I pay over $30,000 in property taxes.
September 25, Alex: I work for Portland Parks for 14 years. I'd like to say a special thank you to Mr. Nick Fish. Downtown he saw me. He spares minutes, seconds—it doesn't matter how busy he is—to say hi. He's very respectful. Very good example. I'd like to say special, special thank you. It doesn't matter if I'm not American for him. I'm not American, but he respects and nice example.
September 26, unidentified male: Yeah, I can see, mayor, why you won't answer the damn phone. Stickin' up for a drug addict who sells cocaine, and heroin, and drunk driving, and you list his attributes that are beneficial to our state, our community—the United States. What a bunch of shit! Your ass should be run right out of office—and it will be.
September 29, Louella: I'm Kelly Swoboda's mother—the one that [PPB Officer John] Romero shot and killed in March. Last week, when I am watching the news—11 pm—Romero is getting a reward for killing my son? I don't believe my son even shot at him. He shot himself or another officer to cover up. Where's the gun? Nobody has heard of where the gun is. People who were witnesses said my son had his hands in his pockets. He was a hands-in-the-pocket man. He was at the library. He was a library person. I'm 76 years old. My life has been ruined.
October 6, Mary: I couldn't wait 'til business hours. Shutting down a street to make it like a place to have meals and play? It's a street! It's a street for people to move from one place to another! It's not a playground. Dumbest idea ever!
October 15, Vito: I expect a call back, please. I am a high-end taxpayer and I would appreciate a call back.
October 15, John: I read in the paper this morning that Portland is going to change Columbus Day to Indigenous People's Day, which I think is a goddamn fucking bunch of goddamn bullshit.
November 7, unidentified male: I would leave my name, Charlie Hales, but I'm afraid it might be recorded. This message is for Charlie Hales: Pin Obama's ears back so he is streamlined and he can crawl into a sheik's condom. Good day, sir. Good day, Charlie.
November 12, Bob: I'm trying to inquire to find out why the mayor's office is not doing anything about the panhandler situation in Portland. I've been to many cities, and Portland is, by far, the worst. Every intersection, it seems like a panhandler's standing with a cardboard sign. Is there no code or ordinance prohibiting this? It makes the city look horrible.
November 13, unidentified male: I'm tired of leaving my apartment and walking two blocks to Starbucks and not being able to do so without being harassed by homeless people—who clearly have more rights in this city than taxpaying citizens. There is a group of them hanging out at the Taco Bell, and I just got big-time harassed by one. And if you don't do something about it, the next time I'm going to knock the guy on his ass—and I'm not even kidding!
November 24, Franz: Hello: I am the owner of [REDACTED] here in Portland, Oregon. I am a daily commuter on North Williams, and I need to talk to somebody who really understands who the hell designed this most ridiculous traffic pattern. So, give me a call back. Thank you.
November 24, Dr. [REDACTED]: I would love to be able to call the Portland police and comment on the officers who had a Facebook page with "I am Darren Wilson" written on it in advance of any grand jury decision, which might still indict him for murder [It did not. Sigh.—Eds.] These police officers shouldn't just be forced to take down the Facebook posting, they should either be fired or never allowed to carry a gun again. This is one of the most outrageous things I have ever heard.
November 25, Earl: I've lived in Portland for 40 years, at least. I don't understand why the police are not arresting these idiots who are blocking traffic and causing a hazard. Do you want me to go out there with my shotgun and clean it out for ya?
November 26, unidentified male: I think you should give even MORE free benefits and handouts, and so on, to blacks. I mean, when they riot, you liberals go into to a huddle and go, "Oh, what do you think I should do for you now?" Well, you have across this country. Because one thug—yes, a gentle giant—decided to punch a cop out and try and take his gun. So he got shot. Now he's a dead thug. That's a good thing. Anyway, you continue to cave into blacks and it's all across the country, because of Ferguson. What they should have done is water cannon them. And if that didn't work—shoot them.
December 1, Judith: I'm calling in regards to the solidarity rally and march that was held on Saturday, November 29. I am very, very upset with the police brutality that was exhibited towards us: throwing flash bangs into the crowd, beating people with batons, causing a stampede, and people getting injured. One person dislocated his shoulder. Other people got beat on the head.
December 4, Linda: I just wanted to let you know that I think that the last proposal with the street fee makes sense, because it's fair to people that are low income. I just wanted to let you know.
December 8, Duff: I've been talking to all my friends about how you're ignoring the federal judge who's been investigating all the cops for corruption. You've been ducking that—trying not to be forthcoming, and we all know that black lives don't matter to you, man. Okay? That's all I got to say. You have fun, because we know that you're not going to take any steps. Bye, have a good day.
December 8, Jordanna: I live downtown. I'm sitting in bed, reading the Oregonian. I'm a 61-year-old retired person on SSI, and I'm just reading today about how Uber is going to do it whether we give them permission or not. I'm a very educated, highly intelligent person that's lived around the world, and I think Uber sucks! I mean, I just think the idea that they think they're beyond the law is bullshit! If you guys wanted to slam them—I mean, I'm reading that the state of Nevada does not allow any Uber—me and my friends would not hate you for it.