Jack Pollock
LET'S GET ACTIVE Council member Randy Leonard was genuinely surprised after being informed by the Mercury that even if council did not reauthorize the Joint Terrorism Task Force, police officers could still be assigned to work with federal agents. Concerned the Task Force largely operates without oversight from either the mayor or police chief, Leonard has vowed to vote it down--if it ever comes to a vote.

But even if it doesn't come to a vote, according to the city attorney, the Task Force will simply continue--with or without city council's approval. To actually halt the police bureau from assigning officers to the spy unit, they would need to take a proactive measure, like a resolution. And, although Leonard mused over such an action last week, let's face it--that's unlikely.

Ask yourself: What imaginative and progressive action has city council taken lately? Okay, re-zoning a parking lot to accommodate Dignity Village was nice, but that was forced upon them. For more than two years, they resisted taking any sort of action, instead responding sluggishly to requests from homeless advocates.

Or, consider three years ago; while other cities pushed forward resolutions against the USA Patriot Act, Portland balked for nearly a year. By the time their approval came about, cities like Grants Pass and Phoenix--not harbingers of forward thinking--had already approved similar resolutions long before.

Likewise, with the Task Force vote, nothing has happened. It has languished for more than four months and is still not set for a vote. Sure, if Portland votes against reauthorizing the Task Force, it would be the first city in the country to do so. But that's a big "if."

Instead, items such as "nighttime garbage removal" crowd the city council calendar. Important--but imaginative and progressive?

There are several opportunities for city council to take the bull by the horns. The Mercury suggests a few: First, let's see Sam Adams' Equal Benefit Ordinance on the table asap. Second, Ross Island. For more than two years, city hall has promised to take ownership back--a process that has all but stopped.

Or how about passing a resolution that limits pepper spray use at protests? Unless of course, city council would rather wait and subject the city to another lawsuit. A little pro-activity would go a long ways towards making Portland progressive again. PB