REPORTING THE NEWS is frustrating when you have to tell the truth. Here at the Mercury, like at most other Portland newspapers, we like to at least start with the facts before distorting them to suit our agenda. But what if we could simply report what we liked?
Mayor Adams: "Yeah, we fucked. What's your point?" Mayor Sam Adams took office in January after dodging a smear campaign in the run-up to his election. When asked if he had had an affair with an 18-year-old former legislative intern, Adams replied simply, "It's none of your business—but yeah, he was legal and he was hot." Portlanders accepted the mayor's modest indiscretion and moved on. After all, what business was it of theirs?
What Really Happened: Adams spent all year fighting for political survival after lying about his sexual relationship with Beau Breedlove. Much of Adams' ambitious mayoral agenda—tackling the high school dropout rate, job creation, and sustainability issues—was overshadowed by sniping about the ensuing scandal ["Mayor or Monster?" Feature, May 28].
Fundtopia for Mass Transit and Bikes. Recognizing the need to fight climate change, the Oregon legislature changed its 1970s-era funding structure, finally giving 1.5 percent of its overall transportation budget to bike and pedestrian projects. Sweeping into office in January, Mayor Sam Adams announced with much fanfare, "Because six percent of Portlanders travel primarily by bike, I declare that bike projects will receive six percent of the city's transportation funding! Huzzah!"
What Really Happened: Same old, same old! The legislature killed the idea of raising bike/ped funding from one to 1.5 percent of the transportation budget and delayed a tax increase that would fund TriMet, which wound up cutting four bus lines and axing the policy of free buses downtown. Though bike funding has increased under Adams, it still accounts for only one percent of the city's transportation budget ["We're #1! Not Good Enough!" News, Oct 1].
Portland Business Alliance (PBA): "Sorry about the sit-lie." Portland Business Alliance boss Sandra McDonough issued a surprising statement in January, calling on the City of Portland to rescind its "evil, fascist sit-lie ordinance. I've had an epiphany, and can't believe we've been pushing these unconstitutional measures targeting the homeless for so many years," McDonough said, while placing herself in stocks in Pioneer Courthouse Square at a charity tomato-chucking event with proceeds going to drug treatment for the city's down and outs. "Please, toss a tomato at my face," she continued. "On behalf of all our members, I deserve it."
What Really Happened: Mayor Adams and City Commissioner Nick Fish finally stood up to the PBA on behalf of downtown homeless and overturned the latest iteration of the PBA's sit-lie ordinance this fall, but only after a second judge ruled it unconstitutional in August ["We Mean it This Time," News, Sept 17].
The Completely Transparent List. After a thorough discussion at city council, the Service Coordination Team (SCT) moved forward with an open, transparent methodology, targeting Portland's worst drug addicts for treatment and housing without linking the services to an arrest record.
What Really Happened: Council eventually released a secret list of downtown's most frequent arrestees to the media after an American Civil Liberties Union attorney compared the cops running the SCT to Nazis. The city has spent $4.98 million on the shady program over the last two years—$412,000 of which has gone to police overtime. Only 77 people have gone through the program (at a cost of $65,000 each), but the city has done no cost-benefit analysis. Hooray for open government! ["The Secrets Behind the Secret List," News, Nov 5]
Health Reform Passes. Yay, public option! Everybody has health care now! Yay, America! Yay, courageous Democrats!
What Really Happened: Oregon Senator Ron Wyden—whose top donors include major health-industry lobbying groups—hemmed and hawed on supporting a public health-care option long enough to confuse the shit out of everybody and, ultimately, kill the idea in Senate ["Why Not, Wyden?" News, June 11]. The Oregonian newspaper, meanwhile, licked Wyden's balls, quoting the president as saying Wyden's plan is "too radical," without distinguishing between Obama and Wyden's plans. Meanwhile a rally for the public option outside Portland City Hall led by Attorney General John Kroger and former health industry bigwig Wendell Potter drew more than 1,000 people—the paper of record completely ignored it ["Spin, Doctor?" News, Sept 3].
Birth of Beautiful Bridge Begins. Bigwigs pushed the Columbia River Crossing project to replace the I-5 bridge to Vancouver with a sustainable new bridge whose tolls and carpool lanes will encourage commuters to take mass transit to work instead of driving alone. The beautifully designed, green bridge has a realistic pricetag, but politicians agreed that a chunk of the cost be covered by tolling, which will start on the current bridge in 2011.
What Really Happened: City council initially caved and backed the biggest bridge possible: a 12-lane, $4.2 billion project. When state legislators nixed funding for the megabridge, the governor slipped $30 million into the state's budget without a vote. After protests, a smaller, $3.6 billion version of the bridge is now in gridlock ["Gridlock," News, Dec 10]. Vancouver's new mayor says tolling is fine, as long as Vancouver's 60,000 daily commuters to Portland get exemptions.
Merritt Paulson Wipes Shit-Eating Grin off Face. The city laughed in the face of Portland Timbers owner Merritt Paulson, when he asked for taxpayer money to renovate PGE Park for Major League Soccer (MLS). "This is the worst recession in recent memory," said City Commissioner Randy Leonard. "You think because you buy me a steak dinner in New York that I'm just going to bend over and kiss your rich ass?"
What Really Happened: Pretty much the opposite. Portland puts up $80 million to support MLS, despite economists' warnings that it won't make a damned bit of difference to our city's bottom line ["Net Loss: Economists Flay Big Soccer," Blogtown, March 9; "Portland Boys," Hall Monitor, March 26].
Paulson Ponies up Money for Lents Stadium. After covering the cost of renovating PGE Park (see above), renowned philanthropist Merritt Paulson also bankrolled the new Triple-A baseball stadium for the displaced Portland Beavers.
What Really Happened: The city and Paulson tried to convince the Lents neighborhood to foot 80 percent of the Beavers stadium pricetag, gutting $42 million from its urban renewal fund. Rather than creating jobs, a quick-turn study on the stadium's economic impact said all the investment in the stadium would lead to a net job loss of 182 jobs citywide. Faced with hostile neighborhood opposition, the Lents stadium deal collapsed ["Great Baseball Debate," News, June 18].
Dan Saltzman: "I eat bad apples for breakfast." Police Commissioner Dan Saltzman overruled Portland Police Chief Rosie Sizer and fired two officers for their role in the 2006 death in police custody of James Chasse. "Those boys killed that man," he told reporters, while lifting weights at his new gym, Backbones. Saltzman also vowed to renegotiate the union's disciplinary contract with the city so that officers couldn't routinely claim stress leave to avoid discipline.
What Really Happened: Saltzman gave the two cops just two weeks off for the Chasse incident, leaving Officer Christopher Humphreys on the street to shoot a 12-year-old girl in the leg with a beanbag shotgun. Saltzman then suspended Humphreys, but reinstated him after the police union threw an epic tantrum ["A Line in the Sand," News, Nov 26; "Saltzman Backs Down," News, Dec 3].
Oregon Businesses Rally to Relieve Recession. Oregon's powerful timber and oil companies realized that cutting education and social service budgets in the recession is bad for the long-term health, morale, and well-being of their workers. They supported small tax increases on their profits to keep the state from collapse. They love Oregon! We love them!
What Really Happened: Big businesses bankrolled the anti-tax campaign, fighting Measures 66 and 67 that will increase the corporate minimum tax for the first time in 70 years from its current pathetic rate of $10. If they're successful and voters don't pass Measures 66 and 67 this January, the state predicts it will have to immediately raise college tuition and free over 1,800 inmates to cut costs ["Knock, Knock, Who's There? Taxing the Rich!" News, Oct 8].