Mayor Sam Adams delivered his second State of the City speech at the Governor Hotel on Friday, February 5, and I enjoyed following the reactions to it on Twitter (hashtag #sotcPDX). Twitter's ubiquity is new since last year's speech, and Oregonian columnist Anna Griffin, who recently criticized the mayor for tweeting too much, nailed it: "Love Sam's gusto on stuff he cares about. Wonder where $ is. Wish he was more engaged on police/mental illness."
Tw-ear hear! The mayor's enthusiasm for his bike plan, education, sustainability, and job creation efforts remains undimmed. He even once again referenced his (as yet unfunded) plan to build a world-class sustainability center at Portland State University. I get it: Dude wants to get reelected. That's how politicians roll.
Meanwhile, I am stark-raving pissed. Adams only mentioned the word "police" once in his entire speech, giving just two lines to an overdue effort by Police Commissioner Dan Saltzman and Police Chief Rosie Sizer to address racial profiling. Later, in answer to a question on mental health, the mayor said funding shortages mean that problems will "show up on our streets." He also told me he supports an effort by County Commissioner Deborah Kafoury to tax tobacco to pay for mental health services.
So. A shrug, and a passed buck to taxing cigarettes? This is the "leadership" we can expect, just a week after the city's police shot a "suicidal" man in Northeast Portland?
@MayorSamAdams' office knew I was writing a column about the subjects he avoided mentioning in his speech, because I tweeted about it. Adams direct messaged me back: "Avoided or didn't have time to address? :) Sam."
Well, mayor, your speech was 3,500 words long. And you managed to devote a few of them to talking about our city's "values and our destiny." If you didn't "have time" to address police accountability and better funding for mental health issues in that arena, then our "values and our destiny" are not as aligned as I had thought. Is there an emoticon for that, I wonder? How about :0------x?
City Commissioner Nick Fish is looking at merging county and city funding for delivery of homeless services. Why isn't there a similar effort coming from your office on mental health funding, so that these people aren't criminalized and ultimately killed? Why aren't you banging legislators' heads to prioritize the issue?
We elected you to lead, not to fill out a school report. Show a little flexibility and stop making excuses.