It's been pretty well-known in Portland City Hall that Commissioner Dan Saltzman has quietly been ready—for weeks—to see Occupy Portland give up its campsites in Chapman and Lownsdale squares. Today, he made that desire a bit more explicit—agreeing with Randy Leonard's comments this afternoon that it's time to lay down a deadline. And soon.
But while Saltzman quickly went through all the usual concerns that people usually cite when arguing to shut things down—like health and public safety—he got very deliberate when laying out one point in particular: Occupy Portland might scare off holiday shoppers—especially suburbanites whose picture of Portland is painted by TV newscasts. (That last part, on the newscasts, is my editorialization.)
"It's important for retailers downtown," Saltzman said. "Just the perception is enough to keep people from coming to the downtown corridor. And that's not good for creating jobs."
Saltzman is closely echoing what business interests are telling the mayor's office. According to emails to the mayor's office obtained by the Mercury, the Portland Business Alliance and others are keenly focused on what Occupy might mean for the holiday season, especially in a rough economy.
Oh, and I ought to clarify the Oregonian's report on a police "action plan" with something I've heard from my own sources. The action plan, I'm told, isn't being drafted. It's been drafted. A couple of weeks ago. And there are a few of them, depending on what kind of situation the cops think they might face: Peaceful protesters refusing to leave? Agitated protesters refusing to leave? A health crisis?
I'm told "day to day" is still technically operable for Occupy while discussions of a deadline continue. The action plans were started early so the cops could study up on tactics and avoid having to overreact, Oakland-style, on the fly.