Is Wheeler burning out?

The situation with the – let's call them "political dissidents" – in Portland is out of control. It's dangerous. There are no signs it's going to let up. No one has a viable plan for ending the civil unrest after nearly two months of it. And Orange Caligula has gone and poured gasoline on the fire.

I've come around to supporting the "protests." Now that the border patrol Rambos have shown up, the authorities deserve what they've been getting, as far as I'm concerned. Spray paint will come off. Statues can be fixed, if they deserve to be. Broken windows can be replaced. There's too much at stake to just sit home watching our country slip away. I'm glad someone's out there on the streets raising Cain.

But the wild nightly disturbances shouldn't go on forever. Somebody needs to be thinking about an endgame. Where is the mayor, who is also the police commissioner? What is he doing about ending the troubles?

It seems like whatever it is, it's not enough.

One thing Ted Wheeler shouldn't have been doing at this particular moment was voting to renew the hideous police union contract for another year. But he and his City Council colleagues just did that. A one-year extension, during which we're all supposed to form a study group and think about police accountability. Unfortunately for the politicians, that can has been kicked down the road too many times, and it won't roll any more.

Maybe Wheeler is worn out. There are days when he seems ready to give up on being mayor of Portland. Certainly, he doesn't need the job. He probably wants Wyden's seat in the U.S. Senate, but he can wait for that from the sidelines. And anyway, old Ron will probably be 100 years old before someone notices he's dead and they wheel him out of the Capitol. 

At this point, Wheeler's the only adult left on the City Council. But if he can't step up his game, maybe he should give himself a break and step down. He's in a runoff, and I'll bet he's losing ground now, with months still to go. There's got to be some story that will allow him to exit City Hall but still be a viable candidate for other nice gigs in the future. Remember John Kroger? (He's now a honcho in the Navy. I am not making this up.)

Who would take over the police bureau? Certainly Jo Ann Hardesty wants it – in fact, these days she's demanding it. Now, if that ever happened, I would definitely risk another trip to Costco to stock up on popcorn. But in any event, the status quo on the streets is not going to be acceptable for much longer, and the guy in charge is making zero progress in ameliorating it.

I wouldn't blame Wheeler if he bagged it. He's put in one no-win situation after another. It must get old.


  1. I'm sure Ted Wheeler is thinking about the good old days when he climbed to the top of Mt. Everest. You know....something easy. The mountains of debt in front of us these days are a lot more grim. For one thing, he knows the federal government isn't going to help. Minneapolis found that out when their request for aid after the initial riots was rejected. It sounds alarmist, but even with our civil unrest and the Covid virus, this could still be the good old days before our economy really tanked. I saw an article that said 38% of Americans are behind on their mortgages or rent. That can't go on forever. There has to be a day of reckoning coming up. Are we heading into the mother of all Depressions? I sure hope not. I feel so bad for these restaurant owners, that work didn't come with enough drudgery already. I was watching some of them on the news, explaining how they shifted their tables and chairs around for safer seating. I hate to say it, but it looked like they were rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

  2. The town needs to bottom out. Putting Hardesty in charge of the police goons would certainly hasten that process.

    Ted's kinda in that spot Mo Cheeks was in at the end of his reign. He'd lost pretty much everyone in the organization by then, but he kept coming back to the office until whoever was in charge finally relieved him. I suppose there was money at stake. I assume Ted knows his PERS payout should he leave today or in November. Maybe the extra few hundred a month would be worth it. Certainly getting a head start on restoring his reputation before replacing Gatsby would be worth it.

  3. The real tragedy is Ted’s only opponent in November appears to be no better and that nobody wants the job except for career public employees. Nothing will improve until we can attract qualified people to the city council that bring balanced viewpoints.

    1. Portland doesn't do "balanced" - anyone that isn't willing to out-crazy the next already packed up and left. And the results of that are now apparent.

  4. I thought Wheeler's statement that the civil unrest was just about to wind down when those darn feds charged it up again with the vans had the ring of bullshit to it. Yes, the feds charged it back up but after 50 days it didn't look like it was going to stop anytime soon. How did he put it, "It was calming down. We believed a week ago it would be over by this weekend." Anybody buying that?


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