Yesterday, Mayor Sam Adams participated in one of the duties of mayor: the annual State of the City Address to a civic group. He promised to allow time for open questions without restrictions. I wasn't there and wasn't really interested, because he has become the equivalent of a castrated dog to the city of Portland. Utterly useless. In the month following the scandal's outbreak, Mayor Adams has seemed devoid of his usual energy and passion. He has taken on a very somber look and has rarely been seen in public, as compared to his usual "man about town" persona he had as City Commissioner. Maybe the scandal humbled him. It certainly humiliated him. But is this a real change, or just a tactic? You know...keep a low profile as the investigation continues, focus on the work details without the schmoozing, and when it finally blows over, hope like hell that there aren't enough signatures or people willing to sign the recall petition in July.
I watched the local news story about the Mayoral Address. I loved it when a KATU reporter (the local ABC affiliate) asked him after the speech if he had any idea when the investigation would wrap up. Mayor Adams stared into the camera without saying anything. He looked lost in his own world. It went on for several seconds before he moved towards the camera and then turned his back before muttering something to the reporter that the viewer could not hear. Afterwards, he walked off. It was strange to watch. This is not the Sam Adams I saw at the campaign office or at debates and campaign events. This is not the Sam Adams seen on local news in previous years. He's known in Portland as a "camera whore" or a showboat. Not anymore. Even fellow Commissioner Randy Leonard has spoken on record that Adams has changed. "He's more subdued." Man, this is not the person I voted for and volunteered my time to help elect. He was a man with great vision and energy, with shared progressive values. What happened?
Let me tell you what happened. If you've read previous posts about the scandal, then you know the story and don't need me to recap. If you haven't read the previous posts, please click on his name under the labels and you'll get to read what I wrote about him in January regarding the scandal. My feeling was mixed, because I like the guy. He's flawed. More flawed than I thought. However, knowing everything I know now, he still would've gotten my vote last May only because his dozen rivals just didn't have what it takes to move this city forward. His main rival, Sho Dozono, was such a pathetic candidate (though a popular businessman and all around nice guy who received the endorsement of outgoing mayor, Tom Potter). During the one debate I saw between the two candidates, Dozono's cellphone rang not once, but twice! I always had the impression that his heart wasn't in the race. He was recruited by the anti-Sam faction who didn't want this polarizing City Commissioner to cakewalk a promotion. That's how pathetic Portland politics is...a complete lack of viable alternatives to the ambitious Sam Adams.
In the month since the scandal broke, it effectively killed Mayor Adams' honeymoon. First, he was in D.C. to talk with members of Congress about earmarks for Portland, especially regarding public transit and the streetcar. Scrap that...he returned to Portland and missed out on the historic Inauguration of President Barack Obama.
Next, when Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley returned to Oregon to hold a special press conference to announce Oregon's take in the Stimulus Bill, noticeably absent was the mayor of Oregon's largest city! City Commissioners Randy Leonard and Nick Fish were present, but not Mayor Adams. News reported that he was not invited.
One of Adams' campaign promises included child mentoring as a way to reduce the drop-out rate in high school. Of course now, there's no way anyone would want the mayor to set foot in any public school. He has made a sick joke of mentoring with his lie about "mentoring" a 17 year old. Now, that responsibility has fallen to Commissioner Nick Fish, the person he beat in the November 2004 City Council race (had Fish won in 2004, I believe he would be our mayor now instead of Adams and maybe that might come true by year's end).
This scandal also killed two friendships already. In 2007, city developer Bob Ball, whom many expected had intentions to run for mayor, approached his friend, Commissioner Leonard about a disturbing rumour he had heard about Commissioner Adams. He wanted to know if it was true and if it was, people needed to know about it because it involved a 17 year old man. Commissioner Leonard approached Adams to ask if it was true. Not only did Adams deny it, he acted with righteous indignation at being subjected to "the worst kind of smear" anyone could level at a gay man...that he was a sexual predator who groomed young men under the guise of mentoring. Commissioner Leonard believed Adams and became his unofficial spokeman to the media, defending his character to anyone who would listen and thus destroyed his friendship with Bob Ball.
Now, Commissioner Leonard claims that he can no longer trust anything Adams has to say and will require any promises to be made in writing. One issue of contention is the new Columbia River Bridge for Interstate 5. It's currently six lanes wide. Businesses want 12 lanes. Environmentalists want no more than 8, with tracks included for the lightrail line to extend into Vancouver, Washington. Sam won with endorsements from environmental groups as well as the huge cyclist lobbying groups. If he signs on for 12 lanes, he'll anger a main constituency group who will feel like he betrayed their support. However, he's so politically weakened by the scandal that he can't force his way on this issue as he had in previous controversial issues (the expensive Streetcar line and OHSU Tram).
Local news have reported that Commissioner Leonard seems to be hinting at an interest in becoming mayor. One of the jobs of mayor is to head the police bureau. One of Adams' insistence when he was sworn in as mayor was that he didn't want the police bureau to fall under his responsibilities so he tried to move it to Leonard's responsibility, which the Police Bureau did not like. Commissioner Saltzman ended up with it. I thought this was an odd manuevering. Why didn't Adams want the Police Bureau as part of his responsibilities? The "unofficial story" from the Adams camp was that Adams wanted to remain hip with the young residents who had voted for him en masse. He didn't want to be "the man." However, that's a cute story. Willamette Week reports the real reason. He would have been required to undergo an FBI investigation and feared what might turn up. The previous mayor who declined responsibilities over the Police Bureau was Neil Goldschmidt, who was the mayor in the 1970s (and also served as President Carter's Transportation Secretary and as Governor of Oregon). A few years ago, the popular Goldschmidt saw his image tarnish when it was finally revealed that he had carried on a sexual relationship with a 14 year old babysitter during his time as mayor! This bit of news shocked Portland (I didn't live here when that was the big local news). Kind of makes you wonder what else might be lurking in Adams' closet!
In an interview with an alternative weekly newspaper, Adams said: "I've been very upfront about my mistake, and I don't intend to repeat it." When I read that, I was shocked. "Don't intend"?!? How about a more definite "it will not happen again"? By phrasing it that way, it makes me wonder if he simply cannot control his own appetites. If he has an inexplicable attraction to borderline legal young men, he has no business being mayor until he gets to the root of his sexual dysfunction with a therapist. Like Clinton, Spitzer, and Edwards...it's just amazing to me that politically ambitious men are so reckless with their personal lives. If it's an issue he can't control, he should have resigned for the good of the city as well as for his own spiritual well-being. But he didn't.
Recently, President Obama met with the mayors of the top 42 cities and guess who was a no show? That's right, our embattled mayor. The news didn't say if he declined to attend or if he wasn't invited. If he declined to attend out of embarrassment, he should have resigned a month ago. If he wasn't invited, this is not a good sign. Maybe this is standard for politicians under investigation. They aren't invited to events until an investigation clears them of wrong doing, just so no one is embarrassed by the elephant in the room. Or in Adams' case: the ass in the room.
Speaking of asses, Adams' young paramour received a six figure sum to pose nude for a gay magazine. Figures! Will a porno film be next? With a name like Beau Breedlove, you know its coming. Especially when Breedlove showed up for an interview with a local news affiliate with his dog. His dog's name? LOLITA! No lie. I'm telling you, this story has so many oddities that I wouldn't be surprised if Hollywood people come to Portland by summer to research or shoot a film based on the scandal caused by this Harvey Milk-wannabe.
Another story in Willamette Week featured a young protege of Adams, named Roland Chlapowski, who is now cooperating with the investigation. His story collaborates Adams, in that he claims that Breedlove had sought out Adams and had a lady deliver the Commissioner his contact information. Chlapowski said that he was concerned about Breedlove's overtures and told Sam that "this is a potentially explosive thing and it's just not worth it." It confirms my suspicions of Breedlove being the male Monica Lewinsky. However, just because a borderline legal fawning fan is the pursuer doesn't mean Adams is off the hook.
What disturbs me about this latest twist is that Chlapowski went from being an unpaid intern in Adams office in 2005 to being on his staff with a salary of $50,000 and title of "senior policy adviser on transportation." Another case of Adams OVER-paying an underqualified lackey. I've been trying to find a job in this city that pays in the mid-$30,000 range with my diverse experiences and political science degree...and some intern is going to go from no wages to an inflated salary that is drawn from our taxes?!? What a boondoggle! No wonder why Oregon state taxes are so high (it was the biggest shock of my first paycheck when I moved here in 2006). They overpay city government employees while advertised jobs run anywhere from $8 to $15 an hour, with the majority falling below $12 an hour.
However, there was a falling out sometime last year and Chlapowski complains that he "put so much blood, sweat and tears into Sam's success. I went from being his right-hand man to being disposed of." Welcome to the club! I heard many people say that Sam is a user. One editorial when the scandal first broke mentioned that Adams isn't known to have many close friends and he rarely opens up to others. He's guarded and a bit of a loner, despite his reputation for being a camera whore. That's sad. Perhaps this is the effect of the karmic boomerang. He has used people and discarded them when he feels he no longer needs them, and now he's not invited by Senators or the President of the United States to key events that we expect our mayor to attend. For all of these reasons, I now believe that Mayor Adams must be removed from office. He has cost Portland enough already in the first month of the scandal. If others don't want him around, how is he going to be the effective "cheerleader for Portland" as he had claimed he could do during the campaign?
Finally, I wanted to mention a personal aspect that I find hilariously ironic, if only slightly painful. Last year, I had seen an ad on Craigslist for two positions on John Kroger's campaign for Attorney General. I had printed them out and planned to apply. I even met Kroger at a Democratic function and inquired about the job. He said to apply. I NEVER DID!!! Damn, that was dumb. At the time, my concern was..."if I work on his campaign, would I still be able to volunteer on the Adams campaign?" I thought it might be a conflict of interest and I didn't want to let go of volunteering for Adams because I really believed in him. I didn't know anything about John Kroger. Even his website didn't reveal much. However, in April or May, Kroger's book was published and wow, what an amazing guy! He worked in the Clinton Administration before becoming a federal prosecutor who went after the mafia and Enron executives. Had I known all this about Kroger last February when he was seeking campaign staff, I would've definitely applied! Now, Kroger is investigating Sam Adams' conduct with Breedlove to determine if the law was broken.
Amazing how things turn out. What can I say? I totally blew it. I find this happening a lot. I go with my heart and it always ends up getting stomped on. I need better intuitive skills, I think. However, if John Kroger decides to run for Governor someday, you can bet that I'll be seeking a campaign job or volunteering (if I haven't given up Oregon for California, Washington, Idaho or Virginia). I'm not upset about the decision I made last year, though. I made the decision with the best knowledge I had at the time and I learned my lesson. There's always the next election cycle to keep me interested and engaged, with the hope that it leads to a place where my talents and knowledge are valued.