Fasten your seatbelts, its going to be a bumpy ride. From Day One, May promises to be full of enough politics to satsify even the biggest political junkie in the city.
We hit the ground running on May 1 with the May Day march. While police have backed off some since the march celebrating workers rights was taken over by some local unions and Portland Jobs with Justice. Even so, theres still enough spontanaeity with many of the Leftists involved in the march that clashes between police and protesters remain a very real possibility.
As this issue goes to press, the Albina Ministerial Alliance is working with other groups to picket the grand jury proceedings looking into the shooting death of James Jahar Perez by Portland police officer Jason Sery. Either the postponed inquest, or the reaction to it will be taking place in May as well. Thanks to the repeated shooting of citizens by our police, the infrastructure for protest and reform continues to grow. With the Coalition for Jose Mejia Poot, the newly formed Alliance for Community and Police Accountability, and the handful of other older groups working to end police misconduct coming together, the possibility exists that City Hall may have to do more than the window dressing changes they have applied thus far.
Its not just in the streets or council chambers that pressure for police reform will be happening this month. Civil rights attorney and National Lawyers Guild member Alan Graf has been waging a bitter fight with the City of Portland in a class action suit stemming from police violence during Vice President Dick Cheneys visit two years ago. Although much of what is happening in the federal court room has been kept there by court order, word has it the city is taking a beating on police use of pepperspray and other crowd control techniques that could result in some real changes in the bureau.
If the police arent your thing, then May can offer you water sports instead. The city is in the middle of reviewing its rush to cover the historic Mt. Tabor reservoirs to preserve water quality and system security. The panel, hand-picked by Commissioner Saltzman, will ultimately recommend a course of action to the city council. But the panel has already risen up against the short list the city asked them to consider and many panel members (including this writer) are demanding more data after viewing the consultants dog and pony show. The panel is supposed to finish up its work in May, part of which will include public meetings. Anyone who cares about what comes out of their tap and the historic reservoirs should check it out.
Of course, the big show in May will be the local elections on the 18th, with the race to fill Mayor Veras shoes at center stage. So far, Jim Francesoni has excelled at accumulating more money than Croesus from the downtown crowd who takes up so much of his appointment book as well as proving that if elected, he will be the least-liked man to ever serve as mayor. The race to fill Francesconis commissioner seat is a lackluster race between Sam Adams and Nick Fish, two candidates who differ little in their limited view of what can be accomplished. Randy Leonard, meanwhile, is fighting a Gulliver-like campaign against a gang of Lilliputian candidates who are working together to knock the race into a runoff. Mark Lakeman of City Repairs is one of the conspirators in this plot to topple the L-man.
The stand taken by the Multnomah County Commissioners on same-sex marriage has brought a wave of candidates out of the woodwork, including perennial candidate Ron McCarty (cant the voters of Multnomah County get a stalking order issueed against this guy?). Cruz, who isnt up for re-election, is being targeted by a recall effort for the same reason. Lon Mabon may be gone, but theres apparently no shortage of homophobic stupidity in the county.
Theres more to look at: Metro races, state legislative races, and so forth, all adding to Mays political stew. The thing to remember is not the faces that emerge in these struggles, but that the underlying forces remain the same. Our citys resources continue to be used for the benefit of a few while large parts of the city and its population go unserved or underserved.
The big question is: what are we progressives going to do about any of this?
Attention morning noshers: If youre a patron of the Hawthorne Blvd. Noahs Bagels and havent been able to find an Alliance, thats because the new management doesnt want us on the premises (apparently the ultra-conservative Jewish Review is permitted on the premises). The good news is that you can pick up a copy of the Alliance next door at Bowers Bakery, a locally-owned shop.
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Last Updated: June 1, 2004