Every week or so, we've been requesting emails from Mayor Sam Adams' office on the city's plans for, and response to, Occupy Portland. It's been imperfect—most of the high-level discussions, especially after our request, aren't happening over email—but also important.
The emails, at the least, offer an interesting window onto the mood of city hall. And they've also shown who's been pressuring the mayor, and who hasn't been, to shut down the camps, now in their fourth week at Chapman and Lownsdale Squares. That pressure could be increasing. Police Chief Mike Reese told the O today that his bureau has spent $182,000 on overtime since the day of the first Occupy march, October 6. That's going to add up fast at a time when bureaus are being asked to cut back.
This week's emails are just as juicy. City officials share their observations and critiques on Occupy—it's stinky and struggling with internal divisions—after spending time stalking around the camps. Occupiers, it turns out, had special plans for the mayor on Friday, if only he'd be avalable. And the Portland Business Alliance is all up on Adams' case, after he sidestepped their letter demanding he crack down on campers.
We'll start there. Here's the PBA's Sandra McDonough demanding to know who's gonna be running the show with Adams in Asia for a long business trip. (Hint: It's Amanda Fritz; Adams gets back the end of the week.) McDonough also says businesses are too afraid to speak up, lest the nonviolent, peaceful "protesters" target them. (What? With hugs, artwork, and rational economics lessons?)
Commissioner Nick Fish's office has been pointedly interested in what's happening at the camps—no surprise since he oversees the parks bureau and has raised concerns about the costs of, and damages from, the occupation. Top policy aide Jim Blackwood wandered from city hall over to a general assembly meeting and made other notes and observations about life at the camp.
Among other things, he's worried about rats—one of the pretexts used to roust Oakland's occupiers this week—and whether the rumors that social services agencies are actively encouraging people to head to Occupy Portland are true.
He also makes a pretty good point about the realities of managing a camp, or any other settlement/community.
There's a similar report from a park ranger who also took notes as he toured Occupy Portland. It's a militarily efficient dispatch, focused heavily on the camp's problems with working toilets and, maybe, hell, you never know, scabies?
And the batch includes a diagnosis and an accompanying prescription from an arborist who spent time examining the health of the trees in Chapman and Lownsdale squares.
Lastly, if only the mayor hadn't been out of town and therefore not available for this Friday's Occupy hoedown with Pink Martini, Storm Large, and Earl Blumenauer, he might have earned a little something from some occupiers, in honor of his decision (so far) to let the camps settle in for a longer haul than most cities have allowed.