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AudioOnDemand: Mayor TOM POTTER interviewed by Bowman and KBOO call-ins

Tom Potter Interview
Portland mayor Tom Potter spoke with KBOO's JoAnne Bowman, on a Thursday morning talk radio program, Voices from the Edge . KBOO News' Glen Owen edited this excerpt from Potter's interview by the community, moderated and amplified by JoAnne Bowman. (runs 4:05)
KBOO news report 5pm Thursday June 30th
KBOO news report 5pm Thursday June 30th
Full hour-long Tom Potter interview program
Full hour-long Tom Potter interview program

phone: phone: 503 287 3473

Good Interview 02.Jul.2005 10:39


I was listening to this interview on my way in to work the other day. I was pretty impressed with Potter's remarks on every issue they discussed. I support the urban growth boundary and careful urban planning, so I hope that Potter and other city officials continue to curb rampant growth. Despite what some people said, I see no problem whatsoever with building up rather than out. Some people expressed concern that this was somehow "unsightly" or that it was not conducive to community building. So long as there is adequate housing for everyone, and not just the wealthy, then I say that's just bunk. I've lived in pdx for many years, most of that time in multi-story buildings. I think there is more sense of community in a building than in separate dwellings, because you are in close contact with your neighbors all the time. No fences between you. We often gather in the stairwells and hallways and balconies and talk. I love urban life. I also love saving the greenspaces and wild places for something other than sprawling suburbs and mini markets. God knows we have more than enough of that already.

But the one issue that I found most interesting was the discussion around police accountability. It began with a woman calling to ask Potter whether he could do anything about the abusive and aggressive Portland police. (Her otherwise well-composed question was greatly marred, in my opinion, by her implication that "anarchists" within demonstrations should be targeted without targeting everyone else. Alas, the impulse to buy into stereotypes and sell each other out based on them.)

Potter replied, basically, that the buck stops with him. He reminded listeners that yes, he does have the power to do something, because he's the police commissioner. He reaffirmed a commitment demonstrated in recent months to curbing police violence against demonstrators, and said that he feels that the police should not even be there at all during a demonstration. (I'm paraphrasing, so be sure to listen to the interview yourself to prevent my putting words into his mouth.) He said they could be somewhere else, say at a precinct building somewhere, in case something required their attention. But they should not be standing rough-shod over people, intimidating and bossing us around. Further, he expressed an understanding that people have a constitutional right to express themselves freely without police intimidation, and he said that he feels that the police often make things "worse" by stomping around hounding people during protests. (Again, listen to his words -- I have added the part about stomping and hounding, but the feeling is there.)

I find it's often necessary to dismiss such comforting words from public officials. Most people in public office, I'm afraid, get there by telling people what they want to hear, and then bowing to the pressures exerted by wealthy elites. And so usually, their words just flow past in a rambling static. But I'm not so sure this time. From what I have seen in the past 6 months, there really have been some changes in this city. The feeling on the streets during political demonstrations has been palpably different. Although the police are still there in their ridiculous garb, looking for all the world like the bullying cowards that many of them truly are, they have been visibly reigned in. I haven't seen any pepper spray flying for months. I think he really is trying to make a difference, and may he succeed.

Now, if he could just do something about the McCollisters and the others who keep gunning down unarmed, working class, people of color and then getting away with it.