Kicking the Schmidt out of Mike doesn’t cure Portland’s problems

There is a lot of fist pumping going on in Oregon politics today over the defeat of the George Soros-backed District Attorney Michael Schmidt, and Squad-backed congressional candidates Jamie McCloud-Skinner and Susheela Jayapal. Let’s give the Portland voters their minute before we remind them that in a three decade struggle this makes one-in-a-row when voters in Portland and Multnomah County turned back the ever increasingly radicalized liberals/progressives.

In terms of moving the political needle for Portland and Multnomah County back toward the center, the victories can best be described as trading in a radical progressive for a run-of-the-mill liberal/progressive. It is much like the last race for mayor in Portland where the voters returned a proven incompetent in Ted Wheeler solely because his opponent, Sarah Innarone, embraced many of the programs demanded by the violent extremists in Black Lives Matter (BLM) – in other words, a choice of supporting a bad candidate over an awful candidate.

Having said that, no one should hold their breath that anything is going to change in Portland – at least not for the better. And probably nothing is going to change in the Oregon legislature where Democrats are dominated by the liberals/progressives of Portland and hold an almost 2:1 edge over Republicans. Still, it is not the legislature that is causing the ruin of Portland/Multnomah County.* Rather it is the local radical political class – supported by the Portland business community out of fear and loathing – that is the single cause of the disintegration of Portland/Multnomah County.

Before Portland will ever recover, dramatic steps need to be taken. The first of those is to cut off the money supply to the radical progressives in Portland/Multnomah County’s ruling class. That money supply comes primarily from the public employee unions, including the radical teachers’ unions**. Conservative public interest law firms have already done the heavy lifting on this via the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Janus v. AFSCME which banned mandatory membership and employee contributions to public employees unions as a condition of employment. The second step is to ban government (taxpayer) funded collection of union dues from public employees. This is not a constitutional issue as was the Janus case; rather it is a collective bargaining issue and one that willing elective local governments can undertake at their discretion. I’m not naive here and I recognize it will take courage (both mental and physical) to confront the public employee unions and it will be more than likely that strikes will ensue.** The importance of all of this is that virtually all of the union dues go to financing the unions’ political activities. They have very little expense for collective bargaining – that should be their principle concern- because they are bargaining with the very people that they helped elect. There is a co-dependency between the political class and the public employee unions that use public revenues for their own private political agenda. It is destructive which is evidenced by the slide of Portland into becoming “Detroit on the Willamette.”

It is here that I have paused for two days. It is not because there is a lack of solutions for the damage that the public employee unions and the liberals/progressives have imposed on Portland/Multnomah County over the past three decades. There are common sense solutions for dealing with the homeless, the indolent, the drug and alcohol addicted, for returning Oregon to one of the premier education communities, and reducing taxes along the way by requiring accountability in the administration of current programs. But as I have thought about the process for achieving these and the secondary consequences of each it has become increasingly apparent that like the Hydra in Greek mythology you must cut off the head of the snake before attacking the remainder of the tasks required. Absent that you will find yourself facing the public employee unions at every turn and you will be out manned and out spent.

This is the cold hard fact of the problems of Portland/Multnomah County. If you are unwilling to kill the beast, it will surely devour you.


*I say that with some misgiving because it was the legislature that placed HB 110 on the ballot in 2020 although ultimately it was the voters who approved the legalization of drugs – probably the dumbest move of any elected body since Oregon’s education community decided to introduce “drag” shows into elementary classrooms. Ultimately it was the legislature that set aside HB 110. How it is that it took three years to understand that the insanity of the initial decision should make us all wonder at the general sanity of Oregon’s political class.

**Please note that this criticism is leveled at the public employee and teachers unions. The policies of these unions are not representative of the individual members of these unions but their voices are silenced through fear, intimidation, exclusion and held in check by increasing pay and benefits demanded of the public officials whom have been supported by these unions for decades. The large men and women in the purple t-shirts run the show – not your next door neighbor who has been a teacher all these years.

*** While a strike is always uncomfortable, it can also be cathartic. While pursuing the goal of eliminating taxpayer funded political financing for the public employee unions, it also gives you an opportunity to “reload” your employee base by replacing striking workers. It is a necessary means of eliminating the political corruption that comes with public employee unions.