Monday, February 23, 2009

Brunch With The Mayor

Up until yesterday morning, my interactions with Sam Adams have been limited to attending a couple of town hall meetings he hosted and spotting him around the city. I received warnings that he was a cutthroat politician, that he was arrogant, and that he might be trying to manipulate me. It's fair to say that amidst my excitement, I was also cautious.

The big hug he gave me melted my caution a bit. I wasn't expecting him to be so warm, engaging and sincere. We talked for a long while about a wide range of topics, so this entry has the potential to get wildly out of control. I'll try to summarize:

  • He's sorry for lying and admits that was a mistake that he deeply regrets.
  • The recent WW interview with former staffer Ronald Chlapowski, which states that Breedlove approached Sam initially, is accurate. He denies having any sexual relationship with Chlapowski.
  • Sam was going to quit before the rally happened, but the outpouring of support convinced him to stay. He had that first week been holed up at home, reading the negative press about himself, and felt shocked and hurt at how the local media was attacking him. Our support was a turning point for him, and he showed no shortage of gratitude for our efforts.
  • He's glad there's an investigation by the attorney general's office-- he'll get to tell his story.
  • He likes the idea of a task force to organize and structure the grassroots movement in his support. He's putting me into contact with a friend and political ally of his who can help make sure our efforts are worthwhile. I'll post more about this when I have more info.
  • We talked a lot about transportation infrastructure, the CRC, the Sellwood Bridge (he's contributing city funds to help get the project off the ground), cycling in Portland (when he gets honked at by cars, he tries to catch up to them and make sure they see his face-- I guess the reaction he gets is pretty funny), the Interstate Ave. off-ramp where Brett Jarolimek was killed ("it will never be re-opened"), bike licensing (he's against it, but supports free bike registration to help track down stolen bikes), how often he rides (3 times a week), the BTA (he's a member and supports the organization strongly), bike boulevards, etc.. It was heaven for a cycling wonk like me!
  • We talked about a lot of stuff unrelated to him being the mayor: his grandmother, ukuleles, Reed College, my family and background, my job, marathon running. He was charming and engaging to talk to.
  • He commended me on dealing with the conservative press. "You actually got a compliment from Bob Miller?!"
  • I asked him how Ron Wyden's snub affected him: "It hurt," he said. He reiterated what he's said in the past: people need to go through their own response to what's happened. He added that the press had last month made it difficult for Sen. Wyden to speak about the economic stimulus plan because they were focused instead on Sam. For this reason, he felt it wasn't an unreasonable response for Wyden not to invite Sam to Monday's meeting, but it was more about the press causing a distraction than about Wyden not taking Sam seriously as a peer.
Sure, the guy's a politician and I could very well have been under his clever, smarmy spell. What I came away with, though, was a firm conviction that his transparency and desire to focus on the betterment of our city are legitimate. Sam Adams is mayor, above and beyond whatever underhanded political agenda is ascribed to him, because he loves Portland and the people in it.


  1. Great article, Hollie - thanks for the scoop!

  2. Thanks for the recap! I think it's great that he's reaching out and that he took the time to thank you for being so instrumental in his support. I still support Sam.

    That being said, I think it's interesting that people forget that successful politicians, no matter what policy positions they take, are successful largely because they are in fact charming and personable people. The few politicians I've met who I disagreed with, even disagreed strongly, have all been friendly and pleasant in person. It's what they do, and it's the biggest tool that lets them do it. Don't mistake ideology for personality.

  3. That's a good point, Brian, and one I'm trying to keep at the forefront of my mind.

    I felt that his appreciation was genuine and his sole motivation for meeting with me was to convey that and encourage me to continue what I've been doing. But to be honest, nothing's changed for me just because he sought me out and was kind to me. That's great, and I appreciated it, but this whole time I've been operating under the assumption that he was not the nicest guy in the world. I'm was, and still am, okay with that.

    He made me feel that what I was doing made a difference. I don't feel that way a lot, and it helped reinforce that I'm doing what I should be. He has a job to do that I want to see him accomplish.

  4. Sorry, I wasn't aiming my comment at you specifically. I didn't want to put you on the defensive. I had in mind a more general comment that I thought I would share.

    But now I have an idea for a blog post of my own...

  5. No biggie. Didn't mean to sound defensive! Your point was really good, though, and I wanted to make sure I acknowledged it in context.

  6. Thanks Hollie! Sam is still my mayor, too. Make sure to us updated about how to help.

  7. Just curious, is the rally you've referred to the one I went to on that Friday night? I remember hearing there was going to be one the following Tuesday but I had to go to class and never heard what happened. I'm just wondering if the rally I went to was the one that had such an effect on Sam's choice to stay.

  8. yes, friday night's rally, because Sam went back to office that Monday.

  9. I'm so glad the rally made a difference. I was so happy to be a part of it!

  10. Hollie,

    I would like to get in touch with you via email regarding something I've been working on in my own time to support Mayor Adams that I think might be beneficial to combating the movement to have him removed from office. If you could please email me at if you're interested I would sincerely appreciate it. My work schedule is a little hectic this week so email is (almost) all I have at present though I'd be willing to meet over the weekend to discuss in person if you're available.

    Thanks for your time and consideration.

  11. Good article, thanks. Sam is still my mayor, too, but I'm not sure what to do to support him. Let us know when ideas come in.

  12. a funny anecdote from your brunch (that you didn't know about):

    My 5 year old son and I were sitting a table away from you and Sam. We had just finished breakfast and I pointed you two out, "Do you know who that man is?" I asked. He said no.

    "He's Sam Adams, the mayor of Portland."

    "What's a mayor?" he asked.

    "well, he's like the boss of Portland..."

    He interrupted me, "No - mama's the boss."


    I had planned to drop by the table and tell Sam how happy I was that he stayed. I imagine he needs to hear that he's got supporters these days - and I suspect he has a lot more than the local media would let on. You two were having such an intense conversation, though, that I decided to let you continue uninterrupted.

    Thanks for the article - great insight into how Sam views this whole mess. Keep up the good work.


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  14. Poser, that's charming! Thanks so much for leaving that comment. Do you mind if I send it to Sam?