We are now fast approaching the two-year anniversary of Occupy Portland, whose members illegally occupied Lownsdale and Chapman Squares in downtown Portland for six weeks in October and November 2011. While most of the media and public attention focused on the circus unfolding across from Portland city hall and the Portland Building, a few blocks away at 4th Avenue and Burnside Street another protest camp was setting up shop on private – not public property. A newly formed nonprofit group, Right 2 Dream Too, had “rented” for $1 dollar per year a vacant lot owned by Michael Wright, who has had his own long-running beef with the city after former Commissioner Randy Leonard forced the closure of Wright’s Cindy’s Adult Bookstore in 2007. The “tenants” then proceeded to erect a couple dozen tents on the paved surface, a practice that eventually generated thousands in fines and a lawsuit by the campers against the city.
While the Occupy movement may have been driven by radical left-wing ideology, the Right 2 Dream Toomovement was founded and driven by a mostly singular issue – homelessness, albeit with a definite progressive flavor. The group was supported by a quasi-parent organization, begun two years earlier in 2009, known as Right to Survive PDX, self-described as “a direct action group that educates both houseless and housed people on their civil, human, and constitutional rights.”
Fast-forward to Fall 2013 and Occupy Portland is mostly a bad and at times amusing memory for law-abiding residents and tax payers of Portland. Last month a seven-member federal jury in Portland took less than four hours to clear Portland Police officers of allegations of excessive force in a civil suit brought by activist and protester Liz Nichols, who received a mouthful of pepper spray from one of Portland’s finest. Nichols’ loud mouth encounter with Sgt. Jeffery McDaniel became permanently memorialized in Oregonian photographer Randy Rasmussen’s iconic image that has come to define the six-week siege. Today, the Occupy Portland movement has been reduced mostly to a Facebook page that boasts more than 29,000 “Likes” and 23,000 “Talking About” numbers, as if those Facebook metrics actually translate into effective political power.
While the Occupy movement has become “so 2011,” the Right 2 Dream Too movement continues to present troublesome issues for Portland city hall in general and council member Amanda Fritz in particular. In the latest development between the parties, Fritz recently announced the camp can now move and set up on city-owned property under the Broadway Bridge in the Pearl District. The deal brokered by Fritz was an effort to head off a pending lawsuit filed by the homeless group as well as resolving $25,000 in city fines racked up by the campers for violating the city’s code. While Fritz may have ended one litigation, she likely triggered another, as the Pearl District Neighborhood Association recently announced that it is prepared to spend $10,000 in association dues to ensure the city follows every city code and process in its effort to grant Right 2 Dream Too campers the right to occupy city property with impunity.
As this seemingly never-ending drama plays out between liberal progressive politicians and activists, the public continues to hear the familiar refrain from homeless advocates that the Portland-Multnomah region sorely lacks enough adequate shelter beds for temporary, transitional housing, residential treatment for addiction and mental health problems, warming shelters, etc. Meanwhile, in North Portland, a $58 million, never used facility sits idle and unused, complete with 525 beds, an industrial kitchen, medical and dental facilities, office space for counseling services and more. It’s time to Occupy Wapato.
The Wapato Debacle
The stigma of the Wapato Facility as an albatross around Multnomah County’s neck is mired in the economics and politics of the mid-to-late 1990’s. In May 1996 (yes, it has been that long) Multnomah County voters approved Measure 26-45, a $79,700,000 bond authorization to finance the construction of public safety facilities and equipment in the county. The bond proceeds were used to build the Children’s Receiving Center, build the Wapato Facility, add a dorm at the Juvenile Justice Complex, add beds at the Multnomah County Inverness Jail (MCIJ) and purchase computer applications for public safety use. It also provided funds to repair or remodel the downtown courthouse, Multnomah County Detention Center (MCDC), and transitional housing facilities. Constructing the Wapato Facility itself consumed $58 million of the $79 million voters approved.
Meanwhile, the State of Oregon was engaged in a prolific expansion of its state prison system. Then-Sheriff Dan Noelle also believed the county would need greatly expanded corrections capacity in the immediate and foreseeable future. But Noelle met stiff resistance from former Multnomah County Chair Bev Stein, who argued that treatment and prevention was more effective than pure incarceration. In a compromise that helped pass the measure, Wapato was presented (and later constructed) as a 525-bed hybrid facility consisting of 300 secure treatment beds and 225 regular jail beds, the difference being primarily module design, security, and operating department. Under the compromise, the county’s Department of Community Justice (DCJ) was to operate the 300 treatment beds, while MCSO Corrections would staff the regular jail beds, with MCSO having overall charge of the correctional facility.
After years of difficult siting issues, Wapato construction finally began in 2002 on an industrial site near Smith and Bybee Lakes in North Portland west of the Expo Center. Construction was completed in 2004, recognized in an anti-climatic “grand opening” in July 2004. The dedication ceremony consisted of former Sheriff Bernie Giusto and others cutting the ceremonial ribbon, followed by locking the doors and leaving – both literally and figuratively, for good. Ever since, Multnomah County taxpayers have spent between $300,000 and $400,000 per year just in maintenance costs to keep the 170,000 square foot facility from falling into complete disrepair before it’s ever used for its intended purpose.
Wapato and Measures 47 and 50
Six months after Multnomah County voters passed Measure 26-45, Oregonians at the November 1996 general election passed Measure 47, a citizen initiative that would have rolled back property taxes (but not assessed values) to 90 percent of the 1995-96 level for each property in the state. In response, the 1997 Oregon legislature referred to the voters, who later approved, Measure 50, which repealed Measure 47, while keeping the former measure’s tax cuts. A complete discussion of Measure 50 is beyond the scope of this article, but the impact on local property taxes was immediate and profound.
Under Measure 50, the objective was to reduce property taxes in 1997-98 and to control their future growth. M50 achieved these goals by cutting the 1997-98 district tax levies, and by making three changes: switching to permanent rates, reducing assessed values, and limiting annual growth of assessed value to 3%. For example, In 1995-96, when the Wapato measure was approved, assessed and real market values of real property were equal, and taxed accordingly. Under M50, for 1997-98, the assessed value of every property was reduced to 90 percent of its 1995-96 assessed value.
The effects of M50 had varying impacts throughout the state because growth in value had not been uniform throughout the state. Properties that had experienced the greatest value growth between 1995-96 and 1997-98 received the greatest cuts in assessed value and consequently, in taxes. For property owners, M50 represented much-needed property tax relief, as did Measure 5 years earlier. But for local governments, including Multnomah County, Measures 47 and 50 resulted in a loss of general fund revenue and all but ensured the Wapato Facility would never be opened.
In many ways, the Wapato Facility became Dan Noelle’s Field of Dreams facility, sold to the public on the promise that “if we build it, the inmates will come.” In the mid-1990’s the economy had recovered from the 1990-91 recession and things were booming, even in Oregon. Many honestly believed that rising property taxes due to ever-increasing home values would easily cover not only the cost of paying off the bonds, but also generate general fund revenue to operate the facility, since the Measure approved by voters was for construction only, and did not include an operating levy. But the boom times of the mid 1990’s were quickly followed by the dot.com bubble burst and the mini-recession in 2000. Coupled with the impact of Measures 47 and 50, the Wapato Facility project was doomed to become a $58 million boondoggle that continues to confound and frustrate elected leaders and taxpayers to this day.
Wapato Options – From Hotel to Casino
In the nearly ten years since Sheriff Giusto cut that ceremonial ribbon commemorating the completion, but not the opening, of the Wapato Facility, political leaders and others have struggled to come up with viable uses for the facility. To his credit, former Multnomah County Chair Ted Wheeler vowed to open Wapato as a correctional facility, even at the expense of closing down jail beds at MCDC, MCIJ or both. But despite his best effort and intentions, Wheeler’s plan proved to be more expensive and less efficient because of the need to replicate corrections services – including transportation, medical, detention and support staff, etc – spread over three disparate facilities instead of just two. In the end, Wheeler’s proposal was never adopted, nor were other piece-meal efforts by the Sheriff and other county leaders to at least partially open Wapato for local correctional use.
MCSO also pitched Wapato to the state’s Department of Corrections for use as a local state prison, particularly for state prisoners in the final year of their sentences to transition back into their local communities. But Wapato was designed and built as a local correctional facility and not a prison – a distinction without a difference to most citizens. But it is a distinction that is real, and which eventually resulted in DOC’s rejection of Wapato as a state prison.
Others have suggested Wapato would make a terrific hotel, casino or combination of both. County officials approached the McMenamin’s, who had previously converted the county’s Troutdale property to a landmark success. But Wapato is no Edgefield, and that idea went nowhere. Wapato has enjoyed some recent success as a filming site for television and motion picture production, but that is analogous to a celebrity athlete or Hollywood star eking out a living signing autographs instead of actually performing their craft. Worse for taxpayers, because of restrictions in the bonds that are not yet retired, the county cannot rent out the facility, and thus charges film crews only the nominal cost of utilities and security, effectively granting film crews free use of a never-used public facility.
The fact remains that Multnomah County tax payers expected and expect the Wapato Facility to be used as a correctional facility. But that expectation is not likely to be realized in the foreseeable future. At the height of Noelle’s tenure as sheriff in 1999-2001, Multnomah County operated five correctional facilities with a capacity of 2,037 inmates. And that did not include Wapato, which was not yet built. Today, the county commissioners give the Sheriff funds to operate only 1,310 jail beds. The downtown MCDC, designed with a capacity of 476, today holds a maximum of 448. The Inverness Jail in Northeast Portland has a capacity of 1,037 inmates. But with three large dorms closed, MCIJ today is capped at 862. If anything, it is clear with MCDC and MCIJ operating below capacity, Wapato will not see a jail inmate inside its walls unless or until one of the two existing jails close for good. Yet ironically, Wapato may provide Multnomah County with the next best thing – a state-of-the-art facility to deliver shelter and services to homeless individuals and families who genuinely desire and deserve the community’s support.
Homeless at Wapato?
The idea of using Wapato as a homeless shelter is not a new idea. In fact, after Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf coast in 2005, Sheriff Giusto offered Wapato as shelter for New Orleans refugees who may be headed to Oregon. But the stigma of housing out-of-state refugees – many of whom would likely be African-American – in a jail was too much for Portland’s progressive political class to stomach and the idea was quickly dismissed. But if any facility was optimized for such a function, it is Wapato.
Remember, that a majority of the 525 beds (300) were designed and built as secure treatment beds for clients of the county’s Department of Community Justice. The facility is easily segregated by gender, allowing for female-only dorms. Who knows, perhaps an entire wing could be dedicated as The Jeff Cogen Shelter for Mistreated Women.
Funding such a massive program would require shifting existing resources now spread out over several nonprofit providers to consolidation under one very large roof, perhaps with those NGO’s providing the staffing to deliver those services. Today, Multnomah County alone spends millions of federal, state and local dollars providing services to the county’s homeless population. Yet we continue to hear complaints that there is not enough beds and facilities to meet the need of the growing homeless population.
County Homeless Expenditures
Multnomah County’s Department of County Human Services (DCHS) is the primary provider of service to the county’s vulnerable population, including the homeless. For FY2014 DCHS has a budget of more than $222 million dollars and 700 employees. By comparison, the budget for the Sheriff’s Office is $122 million with 776 employees. DCHS funding consists of federal and state pass-through dollars, combined with local general fund revenue from property taxes. And the money spent on homelessness is far from insubstantial. The county’s FY2014 Adopted Budget is replete with program after program seeking to address homeless issues. Most of those programs are administered by DCHS’ Community Services Division, with a total division budget of $33,415,819. Examples of homeless programs include:
HFSES – Coordinated Entry for Homeless Families $390,000
HFSES – Coordinated Entry for Homeless Families – OTO $610,000
Homeless Benefit Recovery Project (HBR) $420,551
Housing Stabilization for Vulnerable Populations (HSVP) $3,606,894
HSVP – Short-Term Rent Assistance $1,500,000
HSVP – Streetroots $40,000
HSVP – Flex Funds for Veterans $30,000
Facility Based Transitional Housing $238,009
CSEC – Shelter, Housing, and Assertive Engagement $429,450
Homeless Youth System (HYS) $4,172,600
HYS – MH and Addictions Engagement Services $471,000
Runaway Youth Services (RYS) $821,391
RYS – Maintain Current Service Level $161,132
Anti-Poverty Services (AP) $2,267,172
These DCHS Community Services Division programs do not include many related programs operated by the Mental Health and Addiction Services Division, which has a total budget of $99,716,689 for FY2014. For example, MHASD will spend more than $10 million in FY2014 to provide mental health residential services for individuals with a severe mental illness that require care in a 24-hour-a-day setting. To meet that need, the county contracts with licensed caregivers to provide mental health and social services in structured housing for adults with severe and persistent mental illness. The county will contract for a total of 382 such beds in 2014. But rather than have all of most of those beds in one modern facility, those 382 mental health beds are scattered among 64 separate facilities or homes.
Is There the Political Will for Wapato?
In December 2004, five months after Wapato was completed, the City of Portland and Multnomah County jointly published a 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness, an initiative to end homelessness in the city and county by 2015. While this laudable – and now laughable – goal seems hopelessly out of reach in late 2013, the Plan points to problems with our current approach which an operational Wapato facility could help address. The Plan consistently pointed to the lack of housing of all types, whether emergency shelters, transitional housing, or treatment beds. Wapato could fill any or all of those needs.
One particular issue bears directly on a function for Wapato in connection with the county’s overall jail system. One of the Plan’s Nine Actions to End Homelessness is to stop discharging homeless jail inmates and hospital patients “into the streets” without linking those individuals to available services. If Wapato were up and running as a homeless service provider, a discharged jail inmate could voluntarily elect to stay at Wapato rather than on a park bench, in a business doorway or under a bridge, where they are far more likely to engage in behavior that leads to additional police contact – thus perpetuating a very expensive and destructive cycle.
As shown in the county’s adopted budget, there are tens of millions of dollars available to spend on the homeless and on those with mental health and addiction problems. Today those tax dollars are scattered across a patchwork network of nonprofit providers who need those public monies to survive. Injecting Wapato into that equation is bound to ignite some inevitable turf wars and self-protection battles. Also, as noted with the Katrina issue, city and county leaders are likely to reject the appearance of institutionalization of the homeless at Wapato, even if those receiving shelter and services are participating voluntarily, as with current programs.
The key to making Wapato work for the homeless is a simple carrot-and-stick approach. Most will agree that among those camping illegally in Portland and surrounding areas are two broad groups of people: those who are truly down on their luck, who have lost their job in this dismal economy and need their neighbors’ temporary help to get back on their feet; and those pit-bull toting “road warriors” and similar scoflaws who choose to camp where they want, when they want and have little or no desire to do otherwise. Portland in particular has encouraged the latter while claiming to help the former.
It’s time for some tough love in the City of Roses. When a person is found illegally camping on public property, the police officer should politely and compassionately offer that person two distinct choices if the camper doesn’t move: a citation or arrest for illegally camping, perhaps accompanied by a free ride in handcuffs to MCDC; or a free ride to Wapato where the person can get a hot meal, a warm and dry bed out of the elements, medical, dental and other services, and the freedom to stay or leave when they want.
Or we can wait until the Wapato bonds are paid off in 2016, cut our collective losses and sell the place to the highest bidder while city and county officials wonder what went wrong with their 10-year plan to end homelessness by 2015.
The MoveOn.Commies held a rally in Portland to protest President Obama’s proposed bombing of Syria, and a group calling themselves the Nationalist Party showed up. We’ve seen many on the right join the anti war left on the issue of bombing of Syria, but the– NAZIs?!
Yup. The NAZIs showed up to the Move On party.
I allowed myself to be surprised by this for only a couple of seconds, but then remembered far left extravaganzas always feature anti Israel/pro Palestinians. It’s part of who the left is. The very act of supporting the PLO and all of its iterations, such as Hamas, is the very definition of antisemitism. While the Jewish people live among Muslims, Arab Christians and the like in the confines of Israel, the
Palestinians believe there should be no Israel and there should be no Jews. They support killing Jews with suicide bombers, bombs, rocks etc. America’s left allies with these groups. This fact is not even in dispute.
At Occupy Portland, Blogforce member Bruce McCain took photos of the anti Jewish signs posted at the camp’s “sacred place.” That’s right, the church/meditation room/temple featured anti Israel signs.
Now the Nazis have come to the MoveOn anti war party.
We shouldn’t be surprised, but if you look at Daylight Disinfectant’s video below, you’ll gain an appreciation for what it looks like when one set of leftist values clashes with political correctness.
Please follow Daylight Disinfectant’s You Tube Channel here.
H/T Breitbart News The International Longshore and Warehouse Union, ILWU, has broken away from the AFL-CIO union in what could signify a bigger crack between the Occupy left and President Obama.
ILWU International President Bob McEllrath has written a letter to Richard Trumka cutting ties with the grandfather organization claiming Trumka’s union is too “moderate.” McEllrath cited allowing affiliates to cross ILWU picket lines, opposing, then supporting ObamaCare health insurance taxes and undermining ILWU’s position in its fight at the Longview, Washington Export Grain Terminal as just a few reasons why they were breaking away. The letter reads in part,
“[W]e have seen a growing surge of attacks from various affiliates. A particularly outrageous raid occurred in 2011, when one affiliate slipped in to longshore jobs at the new EGT grain facility in the Port of Longview, Washington, and then walked through ILWU picket lines for six months until we were able to secure this critical longshore jurisdiction. Your office added insult to injury by issuing a directive to the Oregon State Federation to rescind its support of the ILWU fight at EGT, which threatened to be the first marine terminal on the West Coast to go non-ILWU.”
And the taxes on gold-plated union health insurance plans were another source of anger by the ILWU leadership,
“The ILWU has also become increasingly frustrated with the Federation’s moderate, overly compromising policy positions on such important matters as immigration, labor law reform, health care reform, and international labor issues. We feel the Federation has done a great disservice to the labor movement and all working people by going along to get along. The Federation has not stood its ground on issues that are most important to our members. President Obama ran on a platform that he would not tax medical plans and at the 2009 AFL-CIO Convention, you stated that labor would not stand for a tax on our benefits. “
In the letter, McEllrath reminds Trumka of ILWU’s “militant” roots on the far left and how
“moderate” the AFL-CIO has become,
“As you know, the ILWU has a long and proud history of militant independence inside and outside the House of Labor. With roots from the old Wobblies (IWW), our Union arose from industrial-based organizing, against the tradition of craft-based unionism, to become a founding member of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO). This affiliation itself, however, did not last long. During the anti-labor, McCarthy period, the ILWU was kicked out of the CIO for being “too red” and too independent, and we did not join the merged AFL-CIO until 1988. In short, the ILWU has been independent and unaffiliated for most of its history. Today, the ILWU returns to that tradition.”
ILWU’s break with the AFL-CIO represents a further fraying of the far left’s support of the Obama Administration. President Obama has upset the far left for considering attacking Syria and for the disastrous ObamaCare plan, which raises health insurance and health care costs while stopping short of giving the left its beloved universal health.
Here’s the letter that Bob McEllrath sent to AFL-CIO Chief Richard Trumka.
“Pepper Spray Chick” Liz Nichols either has a lot of money or she is the lucky recipient of free legal help. How else to explain her decision to bring her case against Portland Police even after her swing-and-a-miss in State Court? Whiffing against the bigs–Tilting at Windmills–can be noble. But this case? This case was just plain dumb.
Pepper Spray Chick Liz was part of a phalanx of Occupy types who planned to storm downtown Portland banks on November 17, 2011–“N17”. They planned to do what they’d done before: intimidate, frighten and threaten workers at Chase Bank, toss feces or throw Molotov cocktails. They’d done it all before.
But Occupiers kept pushing the line of riot-gear-outfitted-cops toward the wall of the bank. Their backs were nearly against the wall of the bank and their options of getting out safely were diminishing. It was getting to be a logistical problem.
Enter the cops little ice cream truck. Well, it’s not really an ice cream truck, it’s a little white truck outfitted with a huge speaker that reminds you of an ice cream truck. The large speaker affixed to the top of the truck blares whatever message the cops need you to hear. You have to not want to hear it to, uh, not hear it.
Even in the midst of the melee, a person I know who was recording the event said it was easy to hear the truck speaker above the crowds. The speaker told the crowds to step away from the cops and the bank and to stay out of the street.
But even as they advanced at the cops trying to storm the bank, Occupiers chanted “peaceful, peaceful, peaceful” as if the mere act of saying the word sprinkled fairy dust on their aggressive actions and poof! made them ‘peaceful.’
The jury of three men and four women didn’t buy it, either, finding the two officers involved not guilty of excessive force in land speed record time. After the nearly five day trial, the jury got the case on Friday afternoon and managed to acquit the officers in short order later Friday afternoon.
Nichols was looking for a $30,000 payday, saying the incident gave her nightmares and exacerbated her eczema.
She didn’t get it.
Her attorney said he was sorry they didn’t win because people need to “feel safe going downtown, coming and bringing their families and not being the victims of pepper spray.”
He must think we all forget what it was like during Occupy and how people didn’t want to bring their families to downtown Portland and were afraid of being victims of the anarchists wielding things much worse than pepper spray.
Victoria Taft is a wife, mother, blogger, radio talk show host and entrepreneur and is a member of the Victoria Taft Blogforce.
Here’s the photo taken by the Oregonian’s Randy Rasmussen that has become an iconic symbol of the Portland Occupy movement.
It looked to be a raw use of force by the cops against a diminutive female. She claimed she was being “peaceful.” But she and her hundreds of protesting friends were anything but. The Occupiers consistently chanted how peaceful they were being in large crowds–at the same time they were resisting the police, digging at them, kicking them and spitting at them. This was, after all, the same crowd that threw at IED at a Portland Police officer, disabling him, threw molotov cocktails, tried to throw a Portland cop under an oncoming bus etc.
So now that you’ve seen the “After” picture that will go on every protester poster and may even be included in the next PSU sociology syllabi, what about the “Before” picture?
Here’s a photo from KPTV from their helicopter:
Photo Credit: KPTV Screen Shot
There’s also something else that former Sheriff and Police Chief (and Blogforce member) Bernie Giusto notes about the above photo. The cops’ backs are almost against the wall of the bank. They’ve got nowhere else to go. They’ve got to protect the space or be overwhelmed.
“Police officers with nowhere to go and faced with an overwhelming number of demonstrators who are outwardly aggressive, need to push back and push back hard.”
Police say the protesters were pushing on the cops in unprecedented fashion as Officers tried to keep them from rushing the bank:
Photo Credit: KPTV Screen Shot
Here’s another overhead from the KPTV chopper to give you more context.
Photo Credit: KPTV Screen Shot
This woman is not a victim and the cops weren’t wrong to deploy the pepper spray. She asked for it.
Tell ‘em where you saw it. Http://www.victoriataft.com
The call went out within minutes of the George Zimmerman exoneration in Florida last night.
“Zimmerman walked on all counts! Pioneer Square Now.”
and then organizers called for another rally for today pledging,
“Justice for Trayvon! End Racist Killings! End the New Jim Crow! End the Legalized Lynchings! Peninsula Park!”
Laughing at Liberals at www.YouTube.com/LaughingatLiberals checked out last nigh’ts antics and found a very underwhelming call to action–except when it came to F*** the Cops and that “Every cop is a target,” and then the crowd became animated.
Also, for those of you who live on Hawthorne, no cop was involved in any way in the Trayvon Martin case except to investigate it.
While at the May Day Occupy, SEIU, Illegal Alien, and Justice for Janitors gala production on May Day, I met the “Reverend” Stu of the “Ecumenical Church of the Divine.” He fancies himself the spiritual leader of the anarchist movement in Portland. Anarchists are atheists by credo so I wondered about ol’ Rev Stu. Turns out he’ll do your funeral AND a tarot card reading! (Contact by phone if you’d like him to preside over your next Molotov cocktail bombing.)
Watch this video where he says he believes, doesn’t believe, does believe, sort of believes in violence.
The “leaderless” Occupy Portland leaders now tell us they never wanted this. They did not want the collection of street punks, gutter snipes, tweakers, kaffiyeh clad anarchists at their political circus in downtown Portland.
That’s a lie. Yes, they did.
The Occupy Portland folks wanted as many bodies as they could get out for their illegal march and illegal occupation. They went to their natural allies—the unionists, socialists, anti Jewish-Pro-Palestinian activists, communists and anarchists among others—and invited them. And they came. And Occupied. Now that the world is literally and figuratively sniffing the truth, these ‘leaders’ want to distance themselves from the mess they created.
The saying goes, “If you break it, you fix it.” Well, Occupy, I’d tell you to fix it, but it’s too late for that. The City of Portland’s Mayor and Council are too politically invested in your movement to let you off that easily.
Occupy Portland ended the day it began. Thursday, October 6th was the day when the non-leader-leaders fulfilled their promise to break the law. They gave nothing to the cops and the Mayor’s office. No permits, no signatures, no indemnification, no map. They came with their bullhorns, bizarre call and response method of communicating and simply broke the law.
They made good on their promise of anarchy.
Official Portland bent over backwards to try and make their disregard for civility and the law seem somehow noble. The day of the first protest and after they’d broken the law, Portland Mayor Sam Adams ‘thanked’ the protesters for their ‘cooperation.’
Possibly five thousand people came to march in the streets to protest some amorphous evil blob out there; rallied at a place for which they refused to take out a permit and pay the fees, and then took over two parks and closed a street.
Then those people left. Yes, they left behind a few true believers—maybe 1% of this collective. And joining them? The usual rabble from the street: the tatted, plugged, tweaked street kids whose main occupation is dragging their pitbulls to their next act of larceny.
The Mayor’s inability to finesse the Occupiers out created instant civic problems. The Portland Marathon needed the park and street where Adams had let the Occupiers squat.
What to do? Give in to extortion again, that’s what.
The Mayor convened a meeting to tell the Marathon how it should accommodate the Occupiers. The compromise? The Marathon could still pay for all permitting and use most of the park but the Occupiers could stay. The Marathon issued an obsequious statement about how wonderful the Occupiers were and how they would share the space. Crisis averted.
Days later, Adams and Commissioner Randy Leonard joined one of the Occupy marches. Adams cooed later he’d never seen “a more organized protest”and was “so proud” of them.
But by the time the Mayor and Commissioners had mingled with the Occupiers and pronounced them ‘good,’ it was clear who they were. The street people clearly outnumbered the protesters.
Sam Adams then left town and put Commissioner Amanda Fritz in charge.
Fritz met with the protesters and, through Occupy’s call and response bullhorn, told them how pleased she was they were there and how they could stay as long as they wanted. She told them their first amendment rights to speak were more important than any city ordinances. Fritz was apparently unaware the City could set time, place and manner restrictions on speech. Or she just ignored them.
Now crime has taken hold.
A black videographer was verbally assaulted by Occupiers calling him racist names. The VIDEOGRAPHER was arrested for showing the thugs his licensed gun.
A registered sex offender lists Occupy as his home and the encampment has 10-20 children living there.
Marijuana smoke is everywhere.
There’s a shooting gallery inside somewhere judging by the cars full of sketched out kids spilling out only to come back ten minutes later as serene as a nun at vespers.
If you’re worried about second hand smoke and its effects on your health, don’t go to Occupy Portland. Big Tobacco is encamped here, too.
The only Commissioner cranky about the Occupiers is Nick Fish, the Parks Commissioner, who asked that
Occupiers be removed soon because they were hurting the trees, grass and bushes of the park. Ropes lashed onto trees support the Gilligan’s Isle-like latticed wall made of twigs and vines. One of these walls shelters the spiritual “Sacred Place” which includes anti Semitic signs.
The grass is shot. Fish says it will cost at least $19,000.00 to fix it. He claimed it would take a year to get the park back up to scratch.
Perhaps that’s why when local Attorney Bruce McCain sought to get a permit for the properties he was told that no one would be able to rent themfor a year. However, Occupy Portland has been told it can stay as long as it wants.
McCain was told he’d have to go through five bureaus to get permissions, get a million dollar indemnification and post $50-$1000 in fees. And that was just the beginning.
Occupy Portland threatened to break the law and got everything for free—including undeserved respect.
Occupy Portland has done more damage to the City than mere rope burns on trees. It has dispirited law abiding Portlanders who see that if you’re part of the Mayor’s base you are treated differently under the law. If you doubt this, play the, “If this were the Tea Party” game.
This is politically-correct pandering and– on its face– treats the content of this speech differently than all others. It opens up the City to federal civil rights lawsuits (as pointed out by Civil Rights Attorney Rees Lloyd here) and as Attorney Bruce McCain and the Portland Tribune (here) have brought to light, put the City in the unenviable position of defending the constitutionality of the City’s anti camping ordinance at the same time it’s giving carte blanche to the Occupiers. Amanda Fritz’s comments alone may have torpedoed the City’s case costing Portlanders even more and opening the city to even more encampments. Dignity Village Two at 4th and Burnside is just the beginning of that.
Furthermore, it has shown the deep void that is the so called leadership of Portland.
Mayor Adams and Commissioner Leonard like to talk about how much money they’ve ‘saved’ Portland because of their cool response. That’s like a guy going to the hardware store, buying a band saw, and telling his wife how much he saved because he didn’t get a more expensive one.
Their brand of governance is borne of experiences like the one they helped create at Occupy Portland. They don’t understand the rule of law, equal rights under those laws and the limits of government. Maybe if Mayor Adams ever bothered to come to one of the Tea Parties he’s been invited to he might.
Regardless, Occupy Portland was over when it lost its moral moorings. It ended when City had to prop it up. Whether they know it or not, in its current form, Occupy Portland is over.
Tell ’em where you saw it. Http://www.victoriataft.com