“…detached from reality”

by Steve, January 25th, 2009

That’s how Commissioner Randy Leonard describes Mayor Sam Adams, who declared today that he will soldier on as mayor, shortly after the Oregonian broke the news that his relations with Beau Breedlove were closer to the thin blue line than previously reported.

Adams should understand that his political future depends much more on what guys like Leonard think than the thoughts of court musician Thomas Lauderdale, Breedlove’s attorney Charles Hinkle (“…if he committed a crime by having sex with a boy two months shy of his 18th birthday, that is not a crime that looms large in the history of mankind”) or one-time reality TV star Storm Large (who tells us she’s “kind of a big deal”). Or Dan Savage (described by Kevin on Wacky Mommy’s blog as “the aging sex columnist who parachuted in from Seattle like Al Sharpton”).

Or Gus van Sant. (“The only people in this town who still want to think that 40 something gay guys screwing teenagers is hot made Mala Noche,” says Rose on Wacky Mommy, who also wonders whether Michael Stoops and Walt Curtis will step forward with their support and reminds us of “Portland’s sordid history of chickenhawks, from our heyday as the country’s boy prostitute capital in the early 1980s to how we treat gay pedophilia with our glitterati with a wink and a nudge.”)

Of course, if you are the parent of a teenager, or if you think maybe a the most powerful gay man in the state just maybe oughta have avoided playing so strongly to the stereotype, you must be a hysterical prude. A Victorian, I say! Why, you must want to turn back the clock on all the advances we’ve made in society for middle-aged men who love teens! (Never mind that Sam Adams himself has brought tremendous shame to the gay community, and that Just Out, the state’s largest gay newspaper, was among the first voices calling for his resignation.)

The outcry from Sam’s crowd of extended-adolescence admirers has been nearly deafening. They want desperately for this to be about sex and sexuality, which gives them what they humorously think to be the moral high ground. As long as it’s about sex, those who talk about honesty, loyalty and — heaven forbid — getting work done are just bigots and prudes.

Tell that to Randy Leonard, the guy Adams has thoroughly snaked. Adams leaned heavily on Leonard when the rumors of his affair with the young intern first broke, and Leonard bestowed his own credibility on Adams’ mayoral campaign.

So instead of giving a shit what middle aged men who romanticize sex with teenagers (van Sant, Savage) or local pop stars (Large) or cocktail pianists (Lauderdale) have to say about things, we should be asking how Sam’s patrons like their chances now that their man will not have the trust and implicit backing of his colleagues on the council (Dan Saltzman is alone in his unconditional support, Amanda Fritz has backed down after earlier support, and Nick Fish seems disinclined to put his name on the line for Adams).

How does Michael Powell like his chances of having his Burnside Couch couplet/streetcar dream fast-tracked now? How are the Naitos and Edlens and Williamses and Walshes feeling about their subsidized “green” development plans under a hobbled Adams administration?

Tell them this is about sex.

My cautious optimism about Adams’ education agenda has been all but dashed. Seriously… who won’t be distracted now when Adams talks about helping more high school students graduate on time?

Having no direct control over any educational institutions in this city, all Adams has to go on is his name. When it comes to improving opportunities for disadvantaged teens, that name isn’t going to be one many people want associated with the cause now.

Tell me this is about sex, as my hope of a mayor pressing the school board for meaningful, progressive changes in our schools evaporates.

Randy Leonard has made it pretty clear that his trust was betrayed by Sam Adams, and it doesn’t seem likely there’s much that will repair that relationship. This means that this will be more than a distraction when it comes to getting the city’s business taken care of. If Adams thinks that’s what’s best for Portland, I believe he’s mistaken.