According to Mayor Wheeler in a recent interview with the Oregonian (“Half the arrests in Portland last year were of homeless people. Mayor Ted Wheeler says that’s a problem“), the fact that the homeless accounted for one-half of the Portland arrests last year, was likely due to “profiling or implicit bias *** The police should be focused on policing criminal activity, and that’s sort of the beginning, the middle and the end of it for me.” And he doesn’t buy the 50% statistic either: “I could play with statistics with you all day long.”
Ted, Ted, Ted! Turn the telescope around! You’re looking through the wrong end of it! These are not characters out of a Jack Kerouac novel. Of course everything looks safely far away! Perhaps if you ran a business, you would understand…. Sorry, but being the mayor of Portland is not a real business today; it’s become a four-year social experiment in proving that the Peter Principle is alive and well.
I suspect our Mayor is not satisfied with Portland’s explosive growth of legitimate new residents, and he possibly wants to give our population numbers an unofficial boost by opening the city’s sidewalks, underpasses, parks, and store fronts, to “travelers” because “Guys who travel the coast *** tell me Portland is the safest place to be.” Of course it’s safe Ted! You invite them to live and sleep risk-free on public space, patrolled by city police who are instructed to leave them alone. Forget about the tourists wanting to take an evening stroll from their hotel rooms.
And of course, we’ll never know of the new business opportunities, conventions, or tourists, who simply elected not to immerse themselves in the sad state of affairs you can easily see on the Internet here, but will never be found on the picture postcards at Portland’s Visitor Information Center.
I submit if our Mayor was a business person who regularly invited clients in his downtown office, he would not want them to have to first navigate inhabited sleeping bags, grocery carts, beer cans, and the detritus that accompanies free outdoor camping in the heart of the Rose City. Wait, I take that back. Maybe he thinks vagrancy, homelessness, petty crime, drugs, panhandling, and public urination, add panache to being a liberal west coast city. Perhaps, in an odd way, he likes the attention it brings. To him it may be a badge of honor to display at the U.S. Conference of Mayors. If so, I doubt he’ll be roughing it with a backpack and sleeping bag for the convention’s black tie events.
Just wait until Portland loses a major convention, as San Francisco recently did, and it ends up costing city merchants millions of dollars of lost revenue – maybe that will be a wake-up call for City Hall. Or perhaps we need to lose a major retailer, such as Columbia Sportswear, because it got fed up with people camping in its doorway.
Sooner or later, City Hall will pay a price for preferring fuzzy political ideology over reality and common sense. Hopefully that price will be paid at the ballot box, where it should be. ~Phil