THIS ALL STARTED a few years ago, when we realized that people call the mayor's office with complaints all the goddamned time—and some poor volunteer has to type up almost everything they say. Since then, we've run a select batch of transcripts pretty much on the regular. They're funny. And very occasionally thought-provoking.
We thought maybe it was Sam Adams, our last mayor, who brought out some of the more interesting commentary. We were wrong. Eleven months of voicemails sent to Mayor Charlie Hales' public line are just as passionate, strange, and—more often than not—vile.
Keep it up Portlanders! Way to be heard! Or not.
January 2, 2013, unidentified male: This is not a very provocative question, but we need to build more outhouses in Portland. We need to build them out of brick and stone like they did in the Spanish-American War days. More lavatories!
January 11, Wendy: I'm concerned about the structure on the east side of the Hawthorne Bridge. I'm wondering who subsidized it and so on and so forth; and also the wooden art that's in the grassy area by the Burnside Bridge. It's very interesting art. To me it's not very attractive. But, I'm wondering why the Eastside gets all this kind of art and the Westside gets the really more artsy arts.
January 15, Kevin: I heard Mr. Hales had a press conference this morning that he was ill-prepared for. Also, he claims that the AR-15-style rifles aren't used for hunting and they have no use but to kill mass amounts of people. That's all hogwash! If the Federales come to try to take my gun, you'll see another use for it!
January 23, Jennifer: So, I guess we're kicking off the year with earned sick days for working Portlanders. As far as the working poor goes, we don't always get a fair shake. Sometimes we're sick and we have to go into work and get other people sick. We shouldn't have to live in the Dark Ages.
January 28, unidentified female: I'm calling about the new garbage collection that Sam Adams put in. I live in a very nice neighborhood, and I have garbage out in the street. I don't know why, but all of the cans around here are just packed full! It's NOT sanitary!
January 31, unidentified male: I'm one of those people that voted for Charlie; but I'm kind of getting nervous watching what looks like a full-on assault on the kids. I just read today that now we're going to get rid of the [TriMet] YouthPass—after we just got rid of all these after-work youth programs. I'm just wondering what's going on, man.
February 4, unidentified male: I heard that you thought that those of us who live in the suburbs are interested in what you have to say or do. We don't. You're delusional if you think we care what you think, Charlie. You're a has-been; you live in a shithole city with the worst schools in the state. Just keep it to yourself.
February 11, unidentified male: I am a visitor to your town, and I will never, ever return! I got a parking meter ticket that I was two minutes late to get to, and it cost me $39! That is absurd! Secondly, when I was going across the bridge, your little bicyclists you got running all over the place came flying down between the parked car and my car, putting about a $400 scratch in my car, and when I hollered at them for what they did, they gave me the finger! Lovely place to visit.
February 22, unidentified female: If you're serious about saving money you need to delay this sequoia cutting in Pier Park—now! It is not the optimal route; it's not the short route; it's not the logical route; it is, however, the way more expensive route, okay? Please CALL ME BACK, FOR GOD'S SAKE!! Thank you.
March 2, unidentified female: I'm calling in reference to all these people who are getting killed on the road. We need to enforce the jaywalking law again, because I know when I've been out there, so many people have dashed in front of my car; and a lot of them are the foreign people.
March 5, unidentified female: We need sidewalks and curbs on SE 136th Avenue and also Foster Road. I hope Mayor Hales will get off his duff and do something about it. Portland does not end in the Pearl and Lloyd District and downtown.
March 11, unidentified female: I have kind of a wild idea for birds, you know—parrots? You know, they're very smart and people put them in little cages, and then I suppose they go crazy. But, if you could take a tennis court and make it secure, then people could bring their parrots and let them fly around, and the parrots would be very happy.
April 12, Larry: My lovely wife and I, who have been here 48 years, are pinned against the wall. We do not have the money for this [arts] tax. We love kids. We love the music. But the bottom line is we're up against the wall. We do not have the money.
April 12, unidentified female: You know that statue that [former Mayor Vera] Katz put on the Portland Building? Why she did that is a mystery to me. The only people who get to see it are the people in the building across the street. I think you should move it to the Burnside Bridge—on the ground, of course—and put it on top of a very big pedestal.
May 7, unidentified male: NW Johnson and I-405—under the bridge! Get off your asses and take care of the fucking homeless camp under there!! I'm getting tired of driving by there every day and seeing these fuckin' homeless camps underneath the bridge next to where I live.
May 8, Lynn: I just do not understand the rush about the reservoirs. It just seems like SUCH a waste of time and money.
May 10, Ann: Yes, subject: It's wild onions—and they're quite dense on my street. They're spreading everywhere. I'd like the mayor to pass a regulation.
May 13, Lynn: This austerity thing makes you look like Republicans, and it doesn't do any good for the budget. Raise some money through wealthy people.
May 17, unidentified female: It just makes my blood boil every time I see dollars wasted on crap in the street. A wonderful example is NE Multnomah and the Rose Quarter. Everybody agrees that a deranged mind re-did that. I just about lose my mind every time I go up and down it.
May 29, Charles: Considering Portland's like of bacon doughnuts, bacon ice cream, and bacon in coffee, I think we should put some Lipitor in the water, because everybody's going to have cardiac arrests pretty soon. Maybe we could put bacon straight in the water. Everybody likes bacon. So, I'm goin' to go get some bacon.
June 3, Luther: This is Luther. I smoke cigarettes, Charlie. You've got a beautiful city here. You're going to have a beautiful Rose Festival.
June 16, Rosemary: Mayor Hales, I'm calling to wish you Happy Fathers' Day—if indeed you are.
June 25, Gale: I live about half a block off Alberta. You want to come over here with high-pressure hoses to clear the people off the street? You're just asking for a riot! This Charlie Hales thing is just... well. Tre Arrow is better than him. I am 72, and I'm not in the mood to deal with crazy people.
June 27, Sylvia: I work in the Wells Fargo tower. It's just rather annoying that we're allowing another camp to start accumulating in front of city hall. They're smoking marijuana, and it's difficult for me to walk down the sidewalk. I'm a very liberal, open-minded person.
July 9, Harris: I'm a minority black business owner. The city has been losing us black business owners from Williams Avenue, Vancouver Avenue, etc. This area used to be very vibrant with minority businesses. You probably don't remember, because you probably weren't here. Now it's all white. It's very disturbing that, for the few blacks that are hanging on, you guys don't do anything for us.
July 17, unidentified female: I don't care what's going on outside of your office. I don't care what those homeless people are doing. I want to know why they are homeless and what are YOU going to do about it? It's not their fault they're homeless; but what are YOU going to do about it?
July 17, Joseph: Thankfully I'm not a resident of Portland. We got rid of Sam Adams and now they have you, and according to the news, this city doesn't look like it's in any better shape, police- and transient-wise. So, I'm laughing at Portland—still—from the comfort of Sherwood.
July 19, unidentified male: I've been living in Portland for eight years. The kids are getting pretty wild. I just saw a kid with a slingshot and—it's pretty wild.
July 25, unidentified male: Oh, I know you're SO busy down there with the scumbag Charlie Hales. I knew he'd be a shitty mayor when you elected him. He lied about being someplace where he wasn't at. You're working for the people and you can't even pick up the phone? You scumbags!!
August 7, Laura: I read today about the mayor cracking down on homeless people, and I really think it's wonderful.
August 8, Adriel: You are a horrible human being. Are you clearing the city of houseless people? Do you have one SHRED of human decency? Leave the houseless population alone, unless you're actually going to do something about it rather than throw them all in jail!! You're a fuckin' piece of shit, Charlie! How would YOU sleep at night?!
August 19, unidentified male: Please, start setting up a lot more infrastructure for other forms of transportation that do not puke crap out of tailpipes! I know you guys are interested in it. I see people riding into city hall on their bikes.
August 19, unidentified male: I'm just calling in regard to that carbon tax. Why didn't you say these things when you ran for office? You might have said it and you might not have gotten elected.
September 3, name withheld: I live in the Station Place apartments adjacent to the proposed area where you're thinking about moving Right 2 Dream Too. I hope you don't think that some of the more-strident tenants speak for all of us, because they don't. There are certain people in this building that are negative about everything.
September 9, Mike: I'm a 20-plus-year property owner in the Pearl. I didn't think the mayor and his subordinates could maybe get any dumber than to move the homeless into the Pearl and ruin the property values. I walk with a group of people out of the Multnomah Club in the morning—I mean, 28 or 30 sometimes—and they're all making fun of you guys. You've taken YOUR problems and given them to the Pearl District. Nice work, you guys! GOD!
September 20, unidentified male: I am calling about the cab companies in Portland. I have been trying to get ahold of a cab company here for 45 minutes.
October 4, unidentified female: I am a voter and I am a taxpayer and a homeowner. Right 2 Dream Too should be left alone. They should be allowed to be over there without the Pearl District folk laying in and having Mayor Hales waffle—as usual—and change his stance and be, quote, "open to more communication from business owners." Portland's for the rich and getting richer.
October 7, Clint: So I went on your website, and under "Mayor's Priorities" there's nothin'. I see you goin' out to Pendleton to a rodeo. Google still says that Sam Adams is the mayor. What are you doin'? Come on! Jesus Christ! I'm callin' for him to come down and help you.
November 1, Celeste: It is terribly disappointing that a low-ranking police officer is now the person recommended by Charlie Hales to fill the position to provide oversight for the police. I think a better-qualified person could have filled the position—as well as somebody who didn't have their shoestrings or coat strings, as it goes, involved with the police.
November 19, John: There are no bus shelters in Portland anymore. The shelters downtown no longer have sides. My point is that I will drive tomorrow purely because it is uncomfortable to take the bus. It's almost like a third-world experience. We should prioritize more funds toward things like public transportation and less funds toward being nice to the homeless.
December 3, unidentified male: They knocked off that little girl for selling downtown. God damn it, those are brave heroes! And that queer police chief that you got down there—the narcissistic psychopath! God damn! I don't know. Put them in the infantry where there's a REAL war—like Korea!