There are a lot of people praising Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler to the skies for cutting Donald Trump a new one at a press conference.
I also know that he is right when he says, “It’s you who have created the hate and the division. And now you want me to stop the violence that you helped create. What America needs is for you to be stopped so that Americans can come together,” among other things in a remarkably similar vein.
He’s right, and I appreciate what he said.
That being said, most of the people do not understand Portland, Oregon’s form of government, because they have never lived there.
I did. My family Moved there in 1977, and I went to high school there, and my dad lived there almost continuously for the next 42 years.
Portland, and Portland politics, were fodder at the kitchen table. (My dad thought that former Portland Mayor Neil Goldschmidt was a bit of a skunk, which was proved by later developments)
One of the peculiarities of Portland is that it has a city commission form of government, an increasingly rare form of government, a form of government that originated in Galveston, TX in 1900, but it is increasingly rare, having generally been replaced by the council-manager form of government since the end of the first world war.
The peculiarity of the city commission form of government is that each city councilman is the head of some part of the municipal bureaucracy.
One might be the head of sanitation, one of housing, one of transportation, one of water, one of Fire/EMS, and one of them is ……… wait for it ……… police commissioner.
Mayor Wheeler is the police commissioner, and has been since he was sworn in as Mayor at the beginning of 2017, he has been in charge of the cops, and he has done nothing about the racist and right-wing cesspool that is the Portland Police Bureau, nor anything about their flagrantly abusive and unconstitutional behavior toward the protesters, and their support for white supremacist terrorists.
A former ally on the Portland City Commission called him for his unwillingness to confront the police over their misconduct, saying that the police misconduct had made Trump’s federal intervention inevitable.
Meanwhile, he has presided over a police crackdown on the homeless. (also here and here)
The protests in Portland have been exacerbated and intensified by the brutality and the bias of the police, Mayor Ted Wheeler’s police, which he was, and is, in charge of.
He a part of the problem, not a part of the solution.