Among the mourners

columnist Steve Duin ruminates on the death of Portland's downtown, here. It's interesting to see whose fault he thinks it is. Apparently the big villain is the county district attorney, who admits that now he's "learning." And the anarchists. And vaguely, the City Council, and Trump.

To whom does Duin go to provide voices of sanity? The head of the police union, Brian Hunzaker of Ridgefield, Washington. And Homer Williams, the developer to whom former mayor Vera Katz gave so much tax money that it's a wonder we have anything left to buy a police car.

I'm glad that somebody else is talking about how very, very long it's going to take to bring downtown back to the glory it saw 20 years ago, or to something even close. But like a lot of what Duin writes, his column strikes me as just a little odd, even if it's from a guy working from home in Lake Oswego.

Sometimes I daydream about how things could turn around in Portland. I don't have a realistic answer, but I fantasize. 

It could start, maybe, with two of the new city commissioners, Dan Ryan and Mingus Mapps. They could each quickly learn how City Hall works. They could also decide that cleaning up the central city, curbing gang shootings, and stopping political vandalism are their highest priorities. If Carmen Rubio wants to come along, fine. If not, she can stay behind with Jo Ann Hardesty. If I had to guess, she'd choose the latter course, nothing wrong with it.

Ted Wheeler quits, either Ryan or Mapps becomes mayor, and his first order of business is to get a new police chief in place. The new chief has public performance metrics that he or she has to meet. The city plays relentless hardball with the police union on its contract, and gets a decent review system going for police misconduct. A new city commissioner is elected who knows all the popular lefty things to say, but is committed to the aforementioned goals: clean up the central city, curb gang shootings, and stop political vandalism.

Somehow it becomes politically possible for Portland to treat street people with tough love. A ton of shelter beds and mental health treatment beds are built and staffed, but then it becomes illegal again to sleep or pitch a tent on the street or in a park. In my fantasy, the usual suspects don't make bank on the adopted solutions. Sharpies like Homer Williams, who have looted the city treasury for decades and still can't get enough taxpayer money into their wallets, are shown the door.

Mike Schmidt decides that on second thought, he doesn't want to be the district attorney that badly, and the governor makes him a judge. He's replaced by someone with zero tolerance for anarchist and Proud Boy nonsense. We get a new U.S. attorney, who doesn't have the smell of Trump all over him, willing to stand up to lawless and immoral conduct by his superiors, and who's not so eager to play backup county district attorney.

If all that happened, I fantasize that we'd be heading back in the right direction. But probably none of it will.


  1. Hmmmm...Just like Tom Hughes was to be a refreshing change for the better at Metro. As if...

  2. Downtown Portland is dead, taxpayers continue to be fleeced, city government is incompetent, Mike Schmidt redefines the meaning of "snowflake," and vandals/anarchists act with impunity. When the homeless begin to pour into Irvington, Nob Hill, Forest Heights, Bridlemile, and Alameda we will get change. Don't hold your breath.


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