OK, folks, let's talk about Jefferson Smith's driving record. At first, I was fairly dismissive of the whole story - after all, lots of folks have earned themselves a speeding ticket or been busted by the red light cameras (which I love, btw.)
But after the Oregonian story late last week by Beth Slovic, and all the aftermath, I'm not so sure. It's at least worthy of a conversation here.
For the record, after strongly supporting Eileen Brady in the primary, I'm still undecided between Jefferson and Charlie Hales. Where I am on that spectrum seems to vary day-by-day.
On Sunday afternoon, the Portland Mercury's Denis Theriault posted a comprehensive rundown of every single moving violation and license suspension. (I've posted it on the jump here, too.)To Jefferson's credit, the list came directly from him. If you check out the Mercury coverage, be sure to read into the first few comments - as Jefferson asks and answers a bunch of questions. If it's true that "it's not the crime, it's the cover-up", then it seems that Smith has been relatively candid, and he's pretty tough on himself. (Assuming that this is everything.)
A lot of people are bothered about the suspensions -- and I am, to some degree, but the the violations that disturb me most are the speeding tickets. ALL of them were for at least 15mph over the limit; four were for more than 20 over the limit. ...
I'm really concerned about that 2009 ticket [40 in a 25 zone]: 1. It's very recent, and therefore relevant. 2. To me it's BY FAR the worst of this decidedly egregious list of moving violations. A 25 zone probably means a residential neighborhood or somewhere where there are a lot of pedestrians. I can only imagine someone going 40 down the street I live on. Unbelievable that he could be that oblivious to the risk that he caused others by doing this. At 40mph a driver with typical reaction times will travel nearly 120 feet -- more than half a block -- before their foot even touches the brake pedal, and stopping distance is 2.5 times longer at 40mph than at the 25mph speed limit. At that speed, a kid crossing the street isn't going to be looking far enough down the road to see him coming.
Bike Walk Vote issued a statement yesterday that makes the counter-argument:
Jefferson has matured since his earlier days. The evidence shows his driving behavior has improved. Like most Portlanders (including his opponent and some members of the Bike Walk Vote team), his driving still needs further improvement.
Since 2005, both mayoral candidates have been ticketed twice for moving violations: once for speeding and once failing to obey traffic control devices. Smith also has a paperwork violation. ...
We are not hiring either candidate to be our driver. Instead, we are electing a mayor who will lead the city in focusing on equity, in fighting the CRC mega-highway, and in promoting transportation choices and safety. We think Jefferson is that candidate.
What do you think? Should we care? Does this matter?
Here's his full driving record as provided by Jefferson Smith to the Portland Mercury:
6/6/1993 - Improper Left Turn
10/25/1993 - Suspension - Failure to pay fine (rescinded)
6/27/1994 - Speeding - 95 in 55
3/17/1995 - Failure to renew vehicle registration
3/28/1995 - Failure to pay fee
3/28/1995 - Failure to deliver vehicle documents on transfer
4/2/1995 - Speeding - 69 in 45
5/17/1995 - Speeding - 80 in 65
6/19/1995 - Improvement Letter - Step 1 driver improvement letter
9/9/1995 - Suspension - Failure to attend hearing (rescinded before going into effect)
10/22/1995 - Speeding - 80 in 55
5/30/1996 - Improvement Letter - Warning - step 2 driver improvement course
7/20/2002 - Speeding - 52 in 35
12/30/2002 - 12/31/2002 - Suspension - Failure to attend hearing
1/28/2003 - Failure to carry proof of insurance
1/28/2003 - Speeding - 75 in 50
9/13/2003 - Failure to yield to an emergency vehicle
12/19/2003 - Adult driver improvement restriction - Based on 3 moving violations within an 18 month period, driving privileges restricted for 30 days to prohibit driving between midnight and 5 a.m. except to and from, or for, employment.
1/4/2004 to 4/6/2004 - Suspension - Failure to attend hearing
3/24/2004 - Driving while suspended
4/6/2004 - License reinstated
4/8/2004 - Improper right turn
6/29/2004 - Suspension - Driver suspended for 30 days (vacated)
7/9/2004 - Suspension - Driver suspended for 30 days based on receiving 4 or more driver improvement violations within the 24 month period preceding the date of record review under the driver improvement program (reinstated 6/20/2006)
7/15/2004 - Suspension - Driver suspended for 30 days based on receiving 4 or more driver improvement violations within the 24 month period preceding the date of record review under the driver improvement program (reinstated 6/20/2006)
9/1/2004 - Suspension - Failure to appear in hearing
9/7/2004 - Suspension - Failure to appear in hearing
6/20/2006 - License reinstated
1/11/2009 - Speeding - 40 in 25
3/31/2009 - Failure to obey traffic control device
1/12/2010 - Improper display of validating stickers & failure to carry proof of insurance
5/14/2010 to 1/20/2011 - Suspension - Failure to pay fine
8/20/2010 - Car stolen
8/25/2010 - Fine paid
1/20/2011 - License reinstated