Legislative Partners: Occupy Portland and Mayor Sam Adams

Portland Mercury:

Denis C. TheriaultMayor Sam Adams this afternoon won enthusiastic council approval for a pair of resolutions that might never have seen the light of day if not for the persistence and mere presence of the Occupy movement, both here and in Portland. (Well, most of the council, at least. Nick Fish was home sick, and Dan Saltzman, who's been very conspicuous lately, was out on long-planned absence.) One resolution slags corporate personhood, calls for campaign finance reform, and sets in motion a citywide "advisory" vote on corporate personhood. The other loudly demands the swiftest possible drawdown of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan and the redistribution of "war dollars" for starving schools and social services programs. Of course, they're both symbolic—calling on other governing bodies to do difficult things they probably won't do. And I'm having a hard time getting as excited as the packed crowd that spent hours in city hall today cheering them on with a passionate debate that one city hall staffer, more cynical than myself, equated to "the kind of discussion I find myself having after four or five cocktails." Even the mayor—who spent a few minutes making clear he wasn't angry at corporations, per se, just at the Supreme Court decision that dubbed them (and also nonprofit unions) people—seemed to be on that wavelength at times. As he celebrated at the end of the afternoon hearing, he also tamped down expectations about what would happen as his resolutions advance to the "less-than-thoughtful dialogue" on the national level. So why bother, then? It's a fair question. But I think it goes too far to declare the whole exercise pointless. And here's why: On a local level, this lends some heft—a tangible victory—to a maturing, evolving, increasingly engaging Occupy movement. Without Occupy Portland's persistent input—building from the work of a policy solutions committee that took root way back in October—the mayor's stab at attacking corporate personhood would have been way more tepid. [ Subscribe to the comments on this story ]

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