Last week the Oregonian reported that Portland Mayor Sam Adams engaged in a public hand wringing that the Republicans were so insensitive as to propose a presidential debate in Portland. After all, Portland is hallowed ground for America’s far left politicians and for those who support the concept of free speech – but only if it agrees with their “speech.” The idea that four or five prominent Republicans – all believers in limited government and free markets – would invade a city dedicated to the proposition that the government is the prime mover in all aspects of life was just too much for Mr. Adams.
Mr. Adams is quoted as saying:
“The costs are real,” said Adams, explaining that police overtime costs have already gone $1.5 million over budget, chiefly because of the Occupied Portland encampment and protests. “I don’t know what else to say. We just don’t have the budget for this.”
Mr. Adams fiscal frugality might be more believable if he had sounded that note previously when it came to the Occupy Wall Street protesters, or to the annual Naked Bike Ride, or to the Anti-WTO Rally, or maybe even the Barack Obama Rally during the summer of 2008. But Mr. Adams wasn’t the slightest bit concerned about fiscal frugality during any of those events. In fact, Mr. Adams was fully supportive of all of them.
As the Portland leg of the Occupy Wall Street grew, Mr. Adams, like most of Portland’s knee-jerk liberals fawned over the protest movement. He not only publicly supported Occupy Wall Street but he marched with them during one of their events in Portland. It was only when the Occupy Wall Street mobs fulfilled their promise to shut down portions of Portland’s downtown business and public transportation section that Mr. Adams became agitated. (One suspects that given Mr. Adams’ past animus towards the business community, he was more concerned with his beloved light rail and bicycle riders than with the downtown businesses.)
And as the Portland leg of the Occupy Wall Street grew, Portland’s downtown, already filthy from inattention by those at City Hall and overrun with street people and drug dealers, became an open flowing sewer of both the disaffected and their disaffected offal. Even as Mr. Adams began to criticize the local protestors he made one idle threat after another from which he backed away. Finally, enough was enough and the police were forced to respond to what had simply become a mob.
While Mr. Adams has acknowledged spending $1.5 Million in overtime in attempting to police the Occupy Wall Street protests, he has not released a figure for the full cost to the city of diverting police, firemen, and emergency workers on regular time to the protests. There has not been an official estimate of the cost of vandalism, lost business or clean up from the protests. The Occupy Wall Street participants stand in marked contrast to the Tea Party protestors who left Portland cleaner than they found it. The estimates also do not include the costs to taxpayers for jailing protestors and processing them through the courts. (No, the alternative isn’t to decline arrest and prosecution; the alternative is for the street thugs involved to grow up.) It also does not include the costs (immeasurable) to victims of assault, theft, sexual violence, and even murder perpetrated in the midst of Occupy Wall Street mobs.
And now, the Republicans are trying to bring a political debate to Portland. The participants in this debate and their supporters are not likely to engage in street protests, are not likely to urinate and defecate in the city parks, are not likely to panhandle shoppers and business people, are not likely to engage in public copulation or public nudity, are not likely to be arrested or to demand food and shelter from the city social service organizations, and most certainly not likely to support the uber liberal political class epitomized by Mr. Adams. They are likely to engage in a vigorous but civil debate, spend money on hotels, food and transportation (yes, they will probably pay for the use of the lightrail), shop a little and then return to their homes, leaving both they and the city better off from their participation.
The cost to the city in overtime pay for the night of the debate will be minimal and will stand in marked contrast to the costs for the weeks of turmoil caused by Occupy Wall Street. The disingenuousness and hypocrisy of the hand wringing over the cost of the Republican presidential debate is lost on Mr. Adams and, for that matter, Portland’s political elites. On Monday, FOX commentator Bill O’Reilly issued his Word of the Day – “loogan.” Look it up, you may find Mr. Adams’ picture next to the definition.