Jefferson Smith Meets With Occupy Portland: "I'm a Politician Who's Partially Full of Shit"
Denis C. TheriaultJoe Walsh, left, of the Oregon Progressive Party, tells Jefferson Smith why government would better if we stopped consulting so many people with Ph.Ds.Now that his post-primary pause (if you could call it that) appears officially over, mayoral candidate Jefferson Smith spent his lunch hour today holding forth in a no-holds-barred Q&A; session with some two dozen Occupy Portland sympathizers down at Terry Schrunk Plaza. And because Smith is... well... Smith, the back-and-forth didn't disappoint. First off, and pretty bluntly, Smith repeatedly confronted the obvious notion that he was a politician trying to court votes and spark discussion among a group of activists who pretty roundly distrust his kind. He also explained why he accepted the Portland Police Association's endorsement, even though some of his supporters told him he should refuse it. And he touched on a handful of other touchy subjects, like foreclosure resistance, water rates, and bailouts for local schools. Smith's finest moment came in the middle of the thing, when he told a story about how, at a recent Occupy-inflected house party, someone came up to him and said, "So you're the politician who isn't full of shit." Smith said he corrected the guy by noting, "I'm a politician who's partially full of shit." That got laughs, and Smith went on to say that "the fact I'm willing to admit that," should count in his favor, for those "grading on a scale." But Smith spent the largest chunk of his time talking up his philosophy on policing and accountability—and why he's convinced embracing the PPA is the right thing to do. He flatly said turning down the union's support would've been "so destructive." Why? Because Smith says the union and bureau command staff will be more receptive to his goal of changing how cops are trained—getting them to focus more on "problem-solving" and community policing—if he takes office without swinging his fists. He pointed to his skepticism of the Columbia River Crossing, a project high on organized labor's wish list in the mayoral race, as proof he can buck his allies. "If, as mayor, I say to the police bureau, 'screw you!' and then say, 'follow me,' it's going to be hard," he said. [ Subscribe to the comments on this story ]
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June 14, 2012
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