The devil we know

It's hard to find anybody who'll say that Ted Wheeler is doing a good job as the mayor of Portland. The far left and the far right both hate him (although granted, they hate a lot of people). The business community seems to have had enough of him. Long-time progressive Portlanders who have watched their city go from shiny success story to dangerous hellhole over the past two decades, especially over the last few years, aren't happy with him, either.

And so the angry "activists" who are going to try to recall the mayor are probably feeling pretty good about themselves right about now. They've hired a campaign manager and are getting ready to hit the streets with the recall petitions at the earliest legal moment, four weeks from today.

But as lousy a mayor as Wheeler has been, I'm not willing to sign that petition. Because ask yourself, who are we going to get as mayor if he's removed from office?

Indeed, that was the big question that just barely got him re-elected in November. The voters found him preferable to many dismal alternatives.

As I understand it, if there's a recall vote, no one will know, at the time they are voting on the recall, who the next mayor will be if it succeeds. Choosing a replacement would take another election or two after Wheeler was removed. In the meantime, the president of the City Council would become the acting mayor. I can't tell you who the president currently is, but based on seniority, it would be Jo Ann Hardesty, who already raises enough concerns as a city commissioner and is not someone I would want to see as mayor. Nor do any of the three rookies that sit next to her and Wheeler on the council seem like good choices.

So then who would you want as the next mayor? Just as I couldn't identify a viable alternative last year, I can't do so now. Sarah Iannarone isn't the answer, and neither is the other person who challenged Wheeler seven months ago, Teressa Raiford. 

Creepy Sam Adams is still hovering around, back in City Hall and working for old Ted, and even though Adams couldn't even get past the primary for a City Council seat last year, you know he'd be vying to return to the mayor's chair. And you can bet his fervent admirers at Willamette Week would be cheering him on. But if that's the future, no thanks, I'll take Wheeler. I saw four years of Adams spraying tax money out of a fire hose to bring us foolishness, and neglecting basic government. His tenure contributed in a lot of ways to the mess the city finds itself in today.

Who else? Deborah (the Latest) Kafoury, the county commission chair, who's currently presiding over the tent camping disaster on our streets? Or maybe the leading light down in Salem, Tina Kotek? Ick. The usual suspects would run, of course. Seth Woolley, Loretta Smith, maybe Jim Middaugh, those sorts. But they're out of the question.

I guess a few people I'd consider are Sharon Meieran, currently a county commissioner and actually talking sense about the street peeople; Lew Frederick, who seems like a smart and straight-ahead guy who's trying to do the right thing in the Legislature; and LaVonne Griffin-Valade, the former city auditor who spoke the truth quite capably when she was at City Hall. But I doubt any of them would have an interest in the job, and if they did, I doubt that they could win against some extremist with a bullhorn.

So, seeing no possible improvement in personnel at this point, I am not willing to roll the dice and sign to recall Wheeler. If the business people find somebody moderately competent, and if that person makes a credible commitment, to run to replacce Wheeler after he's removed, then maybe I would consider putting my name on a recall petition. But unless and until that happens, there's no way. 

And note, it would be risking political suicide for an existing officeholder to express that kind of interest before a recall vote is even authorized. Given that, I think when it comes to the recall, I'll probably be counting myself out.


  1. It is a good question, but I suspect that just getting rid of anybody who brings Sammy back in to the governing elite might be a better approach. Just get rid of him to get rid of Sammy; worry about a replacement after he's gone and taken Sammy with him.

    Oh, and while we're at it....WTF do you think you're going to get with 'moderates'. They are the dumbshits who have gotten us to this point. You yourself pimped to place Tom Hughes at the helm of Metro, where he sold us in to long-term penury with the Convention Center Hotel. That's your 'moderate'....they are just as bad as the forkin' extremists.

    1. Yes, Hughes was a disaster, and a phony at that.

  2. Agree with you Jack. But just imagine the list of demands the cancel culture club will have for ANY candidate. Even Jesus would be canceled these days. Hello I'm Jesus, my preferred pronouns are...


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