Don't Jump!

Randy Leonard


“Don’t jump” Julie screamed while waving this morning's newspaper in her hand. “The State Senate went democratic and the House Democrats have picked up at least 3 seats”.

“You’re lying” I shouted hysterically from my perch at the highest point of my roof to the ground below. “Your just saying that because you know if I jump you will lose your health insurance and under Bush you will NEVER be able to afford health insurance as a widow. Besides, this election proved that you can lie, cheat and steal and as long as you do it in the name of God –and only a Christian God- it’s OK.”

“No, No, it’s true" Julie called into the darkness. "Well, not the part about the health insurance or God. But the part about the legislature is true, Kate Brown will almost assuredly be the next Senate President and Jeff Merkley kicked republican ass in the State House.”

I looked down at the equivalent of a 4 story drop and shuddered at my fate. I began to realize that there may be a small glimmer of sunshine in what had been one of the most depressing elections I have ever been a part of. George Bush President for 4 more years? How could this be? I am not some starry eyed left winger, but a moderate, progressive democrat.

If I couldn’t stomach another 4 years of Bush, how could the majority of middle America buy his pandering to the religious right, drug companies and corporate America in general. And how could it be that my Oregon voted to amend our Constitution to permanently cause our state to treat gay men and women as second class citizens?

“OK, Julie” I yelled through the cold, damp dark air, “but if you're lying, I will just climb back up here and jump.”

As I navigated my way down the ladder and grabbed the newspaper with cold, trembling hands, Julie slipped me a steaming cup of coffee. “Now, see honey, you'll be able to visit Salem next session and the State Senate will be presided over by Kate Brown. Isn’t that worth living for?”

Julie is right. In thinking about it, my beloved Portland resoundingly voted no on Measure 36. We elected a new progressive Mayor and City Commissioner. Oregon did vote for John Kerry and not even a personal scandal could cause Oregonians to oust a democratic congressman in favor of a right wing republican.

OK. I guess I will give terra firma a few months to prove herself to me once again. But I’ve got my ladder ready just in case.

  • Bob R. (unverified)

    Nice post, but I can't escape my Doom and Gloom mood (yet)... The Dem pickup in the State Senate is great, but they have been handed Measure 37 and will have the thankless task of implementing and/or fighting it, and therefore may have been doomed to a single term.

    • Bob R.
  • (Show?)

    ...they have been handed Measure 37 and will have the thankless task of implementing and/or fighting it, and therefore may have been doomed to a single term.

    Yeah, that feels a bit like 1990 when Barbara Roberts got elected Governor - and was handed Measure 5; dooming her governorship from the start.

  • Becky (unverified)

    When I hear the name "Kate Brown" all I can think of is "anti-gun," and I can feel my blood pressure rising. I hope they leave that issue alone this year and concentrate on more pressing needs. Clearly, it's not just Measure 37 that's going to raise a clatter down in Salem this next session (and I hope the fact that voters have approved it twice will cause Democrats to think long and hard about the message people are sending about confiscatorily restrictive land use regulations). School funding is also going to be controversial BECAUSE NOBODY WANTS TO CUT ANYTHING ELSE TO PAY FOR IT (having two kids, each in a public school that didn't make the grade under No Child Left Behind, and fearing what will happen to their budgets if too many parents take advantage of the alternate school/school-paid-tutoring options, but being unable to afford to pay more taxes, I'm very concerned). It's going to be a tough session for many reasons.

  • Christy (unverified)

    And we all need to be sure to thank the Bus Project, Carry Oregon, and campaign staffs across the state for all of their hard work this cycle... The Bus set a goal of winning 3 out of 5 swing State Senate races. We won all 5. Carry Oregon saw a good day for Democratic candidate throughout the state... The margin of victory for Kerry here should be a source of pride for all of us, especially for those who dedicated their every waking moment to the cause: the Carry Oregon staff.

    My heart breaks today for the nailbiters who just barely did not make it --- Judy Stiegler, Jean Cowan. And three of my local favorites, Kathryn Firestone, Jim Buck, and Rob Brading, will not be in the House. But, watching Alan Bates and Laurie Monnes Anderson kick serious ass, watching Darlene and David win in the way they did. Well, there is a glimmer and it is here in Oregon.

    I would like to say that, as we sit in the Bus office disassembling Trick or Vote, we feel good. We don't. But, as my dad in Chicago told me through tears of pride, look at what [we] did in Oregon. We are a bright blue state, now, aren't we? As bright as CA.

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    Brighter. Our governor's not the Terminator.

    Don't forget also, in the midst of BusPac's well-earned hugfest, to thank the voters of Oregon for turning out in record numbers. Oregon's a stand-up state, and ballot measures aside, which I don't think people understand just how piss-poor they were, they turned out, big. That result in OR1 should show Goli Ameri the door back to California, and that's just one of the highlights.

    Next time we need a resonating candidate to take on Walden in OR2. It can't be Bradbury, as his and Dr. John lives here. What's Harry Lonsdale doing these days?

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    as his job is too important, especially now,...

  • Colin Boeh (unverified)

    I believe in democracy. Much more so, I think, than the male currently holding our highest sElected office. I was greatly angered when doctor assisted suicide was "referred" back to the voters for us to vote on a second time, but I do not believe that Oregonians actually want measure 37 to have passed. I don't think they understand what the implications are. (I realize that's not a great rationalization for repealing a vote, but the legislature has contradicted "the will of the voters" before...)

    Here's an experience I'd like to share: I was standing at the Rose Quarter waiting for a bus and a black woman approached me with a petition to sign. It was a petition to get measure 37 on the ballot. She asked me if I'd like to get a measure on the ballot to make sure that property owners (I think she said "home owners") would be paid back if the government (that damn government again) made decisions that cost them value on their land. Being familiar with the actual purpose of this measure and the effort previously made to do the same thing, I confronted her with it. I told her that I did not believe in the measure, and asked her if she wanted the state to be unable to enforce environmental regulations, etc... She responded with, "Well, I need to feed my kids."

    Is this democracy? When those with money are able to (essentially?) buy elections and those without money are excluded from the process altogether? I'm upset that Kerry lost, honestly I'm terrified at the thought of a Dubya Supreme Court, but I really believe that we need more comprehensive change than Kerry would have brought. This is a system that would have continued regardless of who was sElected pResident.

    I don't have the answer, but the conversation we need to have has more involved than just "D's" and "R's." It has more to do with than just "Americans." We need culture change, not just political change. Anyone agree?

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    Yeah I have one other way for Portland to stand alone: Tell Ashcroft and his Joint Terrorism Task Force to go f*ck themselves. Make national headlines for being (as far as I know) the first JTTF city to do more than pass a resolution praising civil liberties, by not reauthorizing our JTTF participation.

    (Yes, I know you're already thinking about that anyway. But now we need the other votes.)

  • Marcello (unverified)

    What really bothers me in this election is that the majority of Oregon voters are so strongly opposed to paying for the very basic services provided by our government. Here in Washington county, voters overwhelmingly rejected the renewal of funding for the 911 emergency system, the county justice system, as well as homeless shelters. In Hillsboro local funding for schools lost 40 to 60, and even paying for a library that could save the city money (we are paying top dollars to rent retail commercial space) failed to get 50%.

    How do we keep people from voting in favor of becoming a third world country?

  • Michael Tewfik (unverified)

    Paddy, I would add #6 Stop thumbing our noses at anyone with Christian religious beliefs. Christians have a broad spectrum of beliefs. I personally know many Democrats who have "fishes" on their cars and believe in freedom of speech, opposition to school prayer, are pro-choice (but also believe in fully funding school health centers with easily avaliable birth control to prevent unwanted pregnancies). The Religious Right has taken over the controls of the Republican Party and we have allowed the Democratic Party to be seen as Secular Humanists who view them as blind/dumb faith following evangelicals.

    Why else would these otherwise educated middle class people vote for a president with an obvious agenda to take more money out of their wallets, restrict their personal freedoms, and alienate every other nation on the planet?

    They believe this is a moral fight and we have to somehow bring it back to a fight to maintain the Bill of Rights. This will take much longer than four years, but is worth the work.

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    Michael- Amen to your post.The only thing I would add that fighting for the Bill of Rights is a moral fight.They are not mutually exclusive.

  • andrew (unverified)

    amens to Michael & Dena (and a great thread overall). This is worthy of a separate column...maybe I'll try to submit some further thoughts to blueoregon later, but for now, I'll just say that this is one of the ways forward for progressives to overcome the suspect agenda of the far right. Christians should be embracing much of what we stand for. After all, Christ did...

  • allehseya (unverified)

    It appears as though Julie and I had a similar night.

    I had to remind my partner (and myself) that the mainstream infrastructure utilized to disseminate and promote information to the general public took time to build and become controlled by the current administration.

    My partner kept asking, “How could we let this happen?” His faith in humanity seemed to rest on America’s vote. “Are we, as Americans really this stupid?” In struggling with my own emotional response to the elections, I came to the conclusion that no, we are not. We are, however, generally speaking, misinformed.

    Media alone is a powerful agent of information. Through the course of the night, in struggling to find the silver lining, I found myself defending America. In spite of the average citizen being bombarded with sound bites that perpetuate fear, being coerced into a submissive ideology of what is ‘patriotic’ and ‘moral’, and being left with few options but to endure subjectivity disguised as journalism – there is a good portion of the country that IS consciously aware, concerned and actively engaged in maintaining democracy and being informed of the truth. Media literacy initiatives and reform efforts are responding to a call for action – and have acted quickly. From the emergence and quick rise of Air America to the response taken by media advocacy groups surrounding the Sinclaire fiasco – we have solid contemporary examples of What to address and How to effectively counter what has led to our current reality. Change is a process; education is a process; and the acts of becoming aware to finally taking a truly informed action is a process as well. That process begins first on the individual level, the local level – and we have a good opportunity to affect change on those levels here in Portland, using whatever resources we may possess, our talents, our voice, among our peers, within our state.

    Commissioner Leonard, I, too, am proud to live in a city that represents a portion of the country that dares to face the challenges of maintaining that necessary awareness which you possess; that remains concerned for the average citizen; that stands for civil liberties; demands accountability and contains council members such as yourself -- actively and genuinely engaged in maintaining democracy.

    We do climb the ladder of progress slowly -- and progress comes incrementally -- and we sometimes slip, moving one step back for every two that we take forward -- However -- if we were to jump from despair, we would be doing a disservice to those that rely on our courage to make a stand.

  • The Prof (unverified)


    I guess I'm a bit more worried about our local situation. Seems to me we voted back in the powers that be.

    So give us a preview of local politics. With Potter and Adams, you seem rather lonely on the moderate wing of Council. We still face a divided state legislature (house v. senate). The financial implications of Measure 37 are looming. Is there any hope of a budgetary solution? Some said near the end of the campaign that they would have no problem coming back to the citizens of Multnomah County to renew the tax.

    Does your Council and the County have any plan to move this area forward? Don't you agree that a permanent income tax in this County spells long run disaster?

    By the way, on Measure 35: too soon. It was just too soon. This has been the most energizing issue among conservative christians since Roe v. Wade. I understand the frustration of gay activists who are constantly being told "next time", but this was clearly not the moment. Console yourself that at least Oregon only passed Measure 35 by 12% (only Michigan gave it a smaller margin), not the 20 or 30% in other states. We'll be revisiting this again, I'm sure.

  • Randy Leonard (unverified)


    One should never confuse campaigning with governing.

    I have worked closely with Sam over the years. He was at his best trying to solve permitting problems that stopped a business from coming here or expanding. I am confident he and I will compliment one another in bringing and keeping jobs in Portland.

    Tom Potter, as the former police chief, knows how to get things done. Additionally, I am confident that he will bring a much needed new atmosphere here at city hall that will encourage good ideas along with a team approach. Both of those strategies are sorely lacking today at city hall.

    Yes, Measure 37 will have impacts that I am convinced voters did not consider when they passed it. As soon as someone wants to build a McDonalds in a residential area or a cell phone tower goes up into a neighbor’s back yard, the voters are going to want to revisit Measure 37. It is a challenge, but I think the issue will become clearer to voters as the impacts become more real. At that point, I think we should put the measure back on the ballot.

    On the local level, Measure 36 passing is my single biggest disappointment. I feel like going across the street from my house to the neighbors who had a Yes On 36 bumper sticker on the car and asking them how their marriage has strengthened since the passage of Measure 36. It deeply disturbs me that a majority of our citizens would impose their view of the world on a small minority of citizens. I believe the founding fathers called that the "tyranny of the majority". There is nothing I can think of to explain the narrow thinking that caused the passage of Measure 36.

    Finally, as far the county income tax to pay for schools, I agree we are filling a hole handed to us by the legislature AND the political right in Oregon that passed measure 5 in 1990 that caused the school funding crisis in the first place. My question is, if nothing is done at the state level to adequately fund schools by the time the income tax is due to expire in Multnomah County, what choice do we have as a community but to reauthorize the tax? I think the effects of under funding schools are more disastrous on our community than extending the tax. As my Dad used to say, you don't get something for nothing.

    Those words make more sense to me the older I get.

  • the Prof (unverified)


    Smart comments as always, and I appreciate your willingness to make them on a public forum. I am encouraged to hear your thoughts about Sam and Tom.

    I agree 100% -- jobs and economic growth are critical. I know you have working class roots. I'm as much a "knowledge" worker as anyone, as you know, but if property taxes and sewer rates and etc keep going up, Clark County looks more and more seductive even to me. I wonder how many other families with children feel the same way. I just don't know how a middle to lower income family can make it in this city.

    My worry if we extend the tax is that we are heading farther along a road that will result in shrinking schools, burgeoning sprawl as people move to the suburbs, and business flight.

    Somehow, we have to harness a state with 87% voter turnout and reinvigorate government in this city and state. I know you are doing yeoman's work in the Office of Community Involvement. Keep it up, I think that's the ticket.

  • Randy Leonard (unverified)

    Prof- One word of caution you may want to consider before moving across the river:

    If you move to Vancouver, you have to live in Vancouver.

    As regards the income tax, I understand that some feel strong enough about the income tax that they may move out of Multnomah County to avoid paying the tax. However, I have talked to many who have stayed or moved to Multnomah County because this community is so dedicated to quality public education that we are willing to tax ourselves in order to provide our kids with the best education possible.

    There are definite trade offs that have to be weighed if and when this community debates whether or not to extend the income tax to continue funding our schools. If at that time the legislature has still not come up with an adequate funding mechanism to restore state funding to the public school system I will be advocating for a reauthorization of the tax.

  • Michael b (unverified)

    All I can say to the person concerned about your right to bear arms is, word. As a child some hillbred facists shot me with a beabea gun, then threatened to burn down my house and rape my sister. I told my father. He went to the house got the semi auto AK 47 pointed it at them and told them that if they came within a hundred yards of our house he'd shoot them dead. They never bothered us again. That was the only time in my life that I can remember bieng proud of my father.

    As for christian values. I've met a few christians I can respect that are social service workers, and actavists. The churches as a whole are another story. The church as a whole needs to adress it's role in manifest destiny. The Papal Bulls or decrees that declair that the people of africa, the americas, and the world that are non christian are subhuman, and that it is the destiny of the christian world to forceably convert the non christian world MUST BE REVOKED. Pressure must be organized from the grassroots within the christian faith to topple the principles of facism, and imperialism, that killed jesus, and are killing american democracy today.

    I agree with the sentiments of the commentors that have been saying that the Dems need to act and speak in moral terms and present an alternative vision. What newly born and tenuious measure of respect I have for dems, has been earned by Randy Leonard. I know personally that as a political organizer I've felt betrayed by the democrats submision to republican groupthink. That this betrayel plays out on the streets in the form of "peace police" that will point out anarchists to the cops, and ask them to arrest someone because of the colors they're wearing. All the way up to dems supporting the patriot act, the wto, and locally engeneering back room deals for commercial real real estate barons into transit, and revitalization projects. Dems need to speak from a populist working class base, before carl rove wins.

    It is no co-incidance that you've got a higher signup than usual. My friend (and comrad from the streets) enviromentalist father was murdered by the FBI. He joined your canvasing crews and quickly became a lead canvaser after his crew became one of the best preforming in the state. He signed up because he was seriously afraid that bush would charge his internationally renouned award winning enviromentalist mother with terrorism because of forest campaigns organized by her group. Apperently apon notice that her group would recieve a good international grant the bushmin put her on a list of dangerous actavists wich had her fearing for her safety, and ready to flee her tee pee, and the states.

    I've spoken with actavists in the now defunct Cascadia Forest Alliance and remember speaking to an older mother that had been threatened by the local fbi. They told her that if she didn't testify at thier grand jury they'd use CSD and take her kids.

    you know what i think,

    Stop the PJTTF NOW!

  • The prof (unverified)


    I appreciate your candor, but I have to respectfully disagree when you say families are moving into Multnomah County because of the tax. Perhaps we travel in different circles, but many of the families I talk to have already left and incoming families are locating in the 'burbs or Clark County. I think Census figures indicate the same thing.

    But I'm here for the middle term at least. How can I leave when I can argue with a Commish on a blog?

  • Randy Leonard (unverified)
    <h2>Heh, I am happy to accomodate you if it means keeping you here in Portland...where you belong.</h2>

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