Portland Mayor Sam Adams often is criticized by the usual suspects for being too soft, too lenient, and too indecisive. Appearing on local radio station KPAM's "The Victoria Taft" show, he was asked about his approach to Occupy Portland, on which the city has spent about $186,000, arresting some, but mostly respecting the movement as an exercise in free speech. I'd never heard of Taft, but this seems to summarize her:
Radio host Taft referred to the 500 campers as "a bunch of thugs" and "a bunch of brats" and challenged Adams to crack down on Occupy Portland and clear the parks.
"It's very generous of you, spending our money. What gives you the right?" Taft asked.
Adams did then reveal himself as perhaps too nice. In his measured response to Taft. But he also made his point, undermining Taft's bratty argument on her own terms— money. Taft's preference for official thuggery would waste it.
"I've got to look at the big picture. Oakland is going to be paying a lot of money for taking your approach," he told Taft. "I don't think it's as cut and dried as you make it."
Adams will not be seeking reelection, as a couple of well-funded challengers, dead even polls, and a lot of animosity from developers and business groups made it at best a tenuous prospect. But Occupy Portland has been receiving more respect and less aggressiveness from authorities than in other cities. Earlier this week, Michael Moore liked what he saw:
In town for a fundraising event, Moore praised Portland's version of the widespread movement protesting corporate influence in government and wealth inequality.
"I've been to many of the occupations across this country, New York, L.A., San Francisco, and this is by far the largest occupation I have seen," Moore said. The crowd of several hundred cheered.
The pressure is on Adams, but he seems to get it.
Portland officials have said they're exercising their discretion in allowing the campers despite an ordinance against camping in city parks.
As Adams said on October 6:
I support Portlanders in their right to protest and exercise free speech rights, and I encourage all who participate to do so peacefully and with respect to the rights of others. Most of the people that are going to participate in Occupy Portland--as with most of the participants in cities across the country--are there to voice their legitimate concerns about national issues. A peaceful event is the most effective way for participants to deliver that message.