Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Sorry, Sam. It's time to go.

Mayor Sam Adams: A sad fall...

When I heard the news on KPOJ yesterday, I thought for a moment that I had been transported to some Bizzaro-world alternate reality, where Portlanders were moralistic prudes, obsessed with the sleeping arrangements of their public officials.

Newly-elected Portland mayor Sam Adams, the first openly-gay mayor ever elected to preside over an American city, is in the stew over a sexual relationship that occurred in 2005. According to the local weekly, Willamette Week, in the summer of that year, Mayor Adams was involved with a younger man, Beau Breedlove. Adams was 42 at the time, and Breedlove was 18. My initial reaction was an incredulous "Who cares?"

But then, I became aware of the details. (You can read the story here.)

Allegations about the relationship first came to light during the lead-up to the mayoral race when a potential rival to Adams, a Pearl District developer named Bob Ball, raised questions. There was some uncertainty as to Breedlove's age and the nature of the relationship. (In Oregon, the age of consent is 18).

Adams maintained that his relationship with Breedlove was platonic and went on to suggest that Ball's motives were political, that Ball was attempting to discredit an electoral rival. In a public letter on September 18, 2007, Adams wrote: “I have been the target of a nasty smear by a would-be political opponent. I didn’t get into public life to allow my instinct to help others to be snuffed out by fear of sleazy misrepresentations or political manipulation.”

Well, it's hard to argue with Adams on that score. As a proud citizen of the Rose City, the idea that some moral hypocrite would try to use a person's private life to destroy his career is anathema. As it stands, Ball will probably never get my vote for anything simply because he resorted to this method of attack.

But there's a problem. Adams' letter was a lie, as he now admits. And further, in a move that has "cover-up" written all over it, Adams hired a Portland Mercury reporter, Amy Ruiz, as an adviser on sustainability and strategic planning.

Ruiz has no experience in urban planning or in government work of any kind. In a January 15th interview, she is quoted as saying: “This town has a million and a half urban planners, and I’m not one of them."

But Ruiz was an experienced reporter. In fact, she was working on a story about the Adams-Breedlove connection in 2007, a story that suddenly went away.

It now appears that Sam Adams' credibility and integrity have been compromised. It's a tragic fall. I had high hopes for his administration. But now he's tarnished.

If Adams chooses to fight, Portland is in for a long, agonizing process of investigation, accusation, and recrimination. And even if he survives, he will be crippled.

But if he loves his city like I love it, maybe Adams will do the right thing and get out of the way.

Mayor Adams, please resign for the good of your city.


Dan Binmore said...

I agree Dade. One of the most encouraging signs for me with the new Obama administration is that his first actions have been clearly deeply moral actions. His first priority has been to have an ethical administration, before even an efficient running of the economy. If Sam Adams' response to the accusations was simply that his private life was nobody's business I would have stood and applauded, but it wasn't. He lied and cynically maneuvered. That's not good enough despite its almost universality among politicians.

Ridwan said...

Did not know this was going on in Ptown. Whoa.

Thanks for the post Dade.


Anonymous said...

I am happy to see that I am not the only one who continues to see Ball's actions as despicable. If Ball was actually concerned about an illegal act by Adams, his duty as a sworn police officer is to contact DHS and the police. That is not what he did. In fact, I would argue that his actions put Mr. Breedlove in a spotlight that was not exactly of his choosing. (Granted, he went to bed with a well-known politician, and the risks of that are well known.)

And, yes, Adams should go. Alas, this means a vacuum of leadership in the short term, and perhaps for the long term. Portland could not afford this type of ludicrous scandal. But we will now pay for it.

I'm not so sure that the Ruiz matter is what the innuendo is currently trying to make it to be, however. Much more information is needed, and, quite frankly, she had been doing the only decent coverage of city hall for some time. The reporters at WW and The O were scooped by her repeatedly. I don't know if I can trust there accusations any more than I can trust Adams or Ball.

No one looks good in this matter. It's a total Junior High School style fiasco. Ugh.

Cheers, Dade!

Anonymous said...

Man, I need some coffee.

"their" not "there" above...

Yep, I am a bit OCD on the grammar thing. It's my wife's fault.

PapaK said...

Man, I need some coffee.

"their" not "there" above...

Yep, I am a bit OCD on the grammar thing. It's my wife's fault.