In spring of 2003, Commissioner Erik Sten introduced a resolution condemning the impending invasion of Iraq. It died in a 2-2 draw—Sten and Mayor Vera Katz voted for it, Jim Francesconi further villainized himself by voting against it, and Randy Leonard surprised many with his no vote. Dan Saltzman was conveniently absent.
Now, three years and hundreds of thousands of unnecessary deaths later, Leonard has come to believe that maybe the city really should do something—even something that's entirely symbolic. He's currently floating a draft resolution that would call for a pullout of troops in Iraq, adding Portland to the ranks of cities that are already on record as opposing the war.
But will 2006 be a repeat of 2003? Mayor Tom Potter has told his friends at the Oregonian that he's supportive of the idea, and Sten and Sam Adams say they'll vote yes. Will Saltzman repeat his past performance? According to a staffer, Saltzman tentively supports the idea.
Among other things, the resolution calls for "the United States government to immediately commence an orderly and rapid withdrawal of United States military personnel from Iraq, dismantle US military bases in Iraq, relinquish control of Iraq's economy and provide the necessary financial compensation and resources for Iraqis to rebuild Iraq." It then adds that the money used to wage the war should be put into services at home that help the needy—obviously, a very politically risky stand for a Portland commissioner to take.
And in other entirely symbolic, politically risky news: City council is poised this Wednesday, October 25, to issue a resolution to oppose statewide Measures 41 and 48—both of which, if passed, would make the city's job far more difficult. M41 would slash tax revenue to the state, leaving cities and counties to pick up the slack to provide human services—and in case you haven't been paying attention, cities and counties are already broke. M48 would cap state spending—leading to the same results for the city: disaster.
Unfortunately, city council doesn't have a great track record on the issues it's taken a symbolic stand on. Like, for instance, Measure 36. In 2004, Leonard sponsored a resolution opposing the same-sex marriage ban—the resolution passed unanimously, but, shockingly, much of rural Oregon chose to ignore the opinion of Portland city leaders and passed the ban anyway.
A few months ago, council has also passed a resolution asking Congress to repeal the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy in the military—and we've all seen how well that turned out.
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