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?
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.