[Potter] simply left Portland emotionally drained.
Frequent anger was engendered by his actions, things like support of the Critical Mass biker blockade, the Schumacher’s debacle, the back room Del Monte tip off. Frequent elation accompanied his defeats, the city wide income tax and failed Portland Convention Center Hotel extravaganza. This roller coaster ride simply leaves one emotionally exhausted after four years.
His legacy is the irrationality that has characterized his tenure in office. His policies, directives, and actions were not derived from the rule of reason or law, but the rule of emotion. He admitted as much late in his term in describing his actions surrounding the Day Labor Center and Del Monte projects administering from the “heart” never mind the law, but this theme permeated his tenure as Mayor.
Before the 2004 Mayoral election, Potter was irresistible and irreproachable as he swept to office of over the “status quo” candidate Francesconi. He wanted us to all feel better about government!
Immediately following taking his Mayor’s Oath of Office to uphold the US and State of Oregon Constitutions and the Charter of the City of Portland, his first official action was to ride with Critical Mass to blockade Portland traffic. This action should have served as a precursor of the emotional roller coaster ride to characterize the Potter term as his Oath of Office and rule of law was ignored. He went on to idolize the Zoo bombers, oversee the destruction of Schumachers, and snub the FBI. Portland Potter’s era of spiritual enlightenment and illumination by “Mayor Moonbeam” had begun.
During his term Potter could be irritating, for example, during his support of the day labor center, irritable, as displayed by his frequent outbursts of indignation at his opponents and the press in his numerous defeats including the citywide school tax initiative, irrecusable as with his frequent self righteous admonitions to those in the chamber, “Do not boo, hiss, cheer or clap” preceding city council debates, irrefutable in his stubborn unwillingness to abandon an overbudget and questionable Tram/South Waterfront project, and finally by his own characterization was “irrelevant” as his Chavez street renaming imperative. By his own words,he characterized the latter project when he stated, “It was a debacle”. This debacle simply served to amplify and underscore his previous abandonment of the adherence to his Oath of Office and the rule of law.
And where is the Potter legacy in promoting a strong Portland business sector? It was certainly absent in his emotional cheerleading of the PETA protesters outside of Schumachers. Walking in Pioneer Place or the streets of the downtown core, amidst the shiny new rails, one can’t help but notice the abundance of vacant retail shops. And speaking of shiny new rails and emptiness, what better describes the South Waterfront’s Atwater and John Ross Condominiums, whose imminent construction interest reserve exhaustion portends impending disaster. And a year ago, a small firm moves out of the Portland core, saving $100,000 a year in taxes, fees, and parking costs and gaining badly needed readily available freeway access. Is this irrecoverable loss of economic activity by Portland, the legacy or simply the result of Potter’s four year tenure.
Ultimately, the Potter legacy, is the emotional tone he mandated in Portland, with disregard for the rule of law!! Rather than order, the Potter relegated disorder. Rather than rational decision making, decisions were invariably irrational. Rather than make us feel better, more united, the Potter legacy left us more divided. Rather than accomplished, his legacy left us exhausted, emotionally drained. And ultimately, our memory of his legacy will pass quickly, as quickly as emotions fade away.
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