“…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.

27 Responses to ““…detached from reality””

  1. Comment from Torridjoe:

    If it’s not about sex for you, why do you so relentlessly focus on the sexual aspects? You mention stereotypes, pedophilia, the shame, how skeevy it is when older men pick up adult teenagers…

    …and you never do explain why things can’t move forward. The implication is that Commissioners will vote against the city’s interests, just to stick it to Sam, or because they don’t like him any more. If so, that would make them far worse than Adams.

  2. Comment from Steve:

    The topic of this post is how Sam Adams stabbed his biggest political ally (who happens to be president of the council) in the back. (Please read beyond the exposition before jumping to conclusions about the dénouement.)

    Adams’ supporters want this to be about sex, and I quote them and reaction to them to point out how absurd it becomes to actually try to get real work done now.

    I’m not saying Leonard and Fish will obstruct the city’s legitimate business, but a big part of our (weak*) mayor’s power is the bully pulpit.

    Adams wants to fast-track some big development projects that his big money supporters have been salivating over for years. He needs the support of the council to do this. (Convention center hotel, stadiums, streetcar, etc.)

    My contention is that where he would have had a rubber stamp before, he’s going to meet with a lot more scrutiny now. And so it matters more what these big money supporters think than the libertine, extended adolescence glitterati who really, really want to talk about sex.

    I’m not going to cry about not building a new stadium or the Burnside Couch couplet, but I am concerned about his education agenda and the lack of any real leadership when it comes to things like mass shootings in downtown Portland.

    If people can’t trust the mayor, especially those who must work directly with him every day (police, council colleagues, bureau heads), what does that say about his ability to lead?

    *”weak” by city charter

  3. Comment from Dave:

    I’m not as pessimistic about Sam’s ability to do his job post-scandal; I suspect Sam can (and maybe will) survive a recall too. We’ll see. The right-wing voter bloc in Portland isn’t very big, and that’s the only contingent I can see having a huge problem after the dust settles.

    (One correction: It was actually lawyer Charles Hinkle who said “…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”)

  4. Comment from none:

    The quote you attribute to Thomas Lauderdale is actually from attorney Charlie Hinkle.

  5. Comment from none:

    Well, it looks like the content has changed, so please disregard my earlier comment.

  6. Comment from Steve:

    Thanks for the correction, Dave. I fixed the post.

    Isn’t it a little unseemly for the alleged victim’s attorney to be speaking out at a rally in support of the person under investigation?

    This just gets weirder and weirder.

    Please don’t make the facile characterization of this as a right vs. left issue. It’s not, any more than it’s a sexually enlightened vs. Victorian issue.

    It’s an issue about whether a man of integrity (Leonard) can work with the guy who stabbed him in his back repeatedly, not whether Adams can survive a recall.

    And whether Sam can survive a recall has more to do with whether the big money in Portland thinks he can still do their bidding in City Hall. If not, he’s toast.

  7. Comment from boy23:

    I understand that for some of Sam’s critics, the issue is not his sex life but his deceptions. I suggest that these honorable critics of Sam look around themselves: they will see that calling for Sam’s resignation, there stands a very hateful crowd, dominated by extreme bigots. To demand absolute honesty from elected officials is an idealistic and commendable thing.But how do you guys manage to control your moral nausea when holding hands with such violent haters as the the author of the above essay?

  8. Comment from Steve:

    I’m the author of the above blog post… is this what you’re referring to as the “above essay”? Did you read the whole thing, or just the first few paragraphs, like Torrid Joe?

    Re. the Christian bigots who have come out of the woodwork, I am just as disgusted with them as I always have been, but I am pleased that their power and influence have been reduced to a level commensurate with their numbers — that is, to almost nil.

    I’m not holding hands with those bozos. This post was meant to shine a light on what I see as Sam’s biggest offense: betraying Randy Leonard’s trust and good will. It truly doesn’t matter to me that it was over sex. What matters is what it says about Sam’s megalomania and his desire to attain (and retain) office without regard to whom he tramples on the way.

    Randy Leonard gave Sam loyal and vociferous support at a time when Sam may have faced a serious setback in his political career. In return, Sam used Leonard and cast him aside.

  9. Comment from Ozymango:

    I don’t personally care who bangs who behind closed doors, but frankly I thought Adams was a self-centered, aggrandizing wank with delusions of grandeur before this whole thing started. But, even with my own perceptions, I’m not one to dismiss the rights of people to vote for people based on their reasons for voting that may have nothing to do with my reasons for voting. Which is a long way of saying, Sam should have let the voters decide whether they wanted him in office based on the truth, not on lies. So it just confirms that I did, indeed, not vote for the guy for all the right reasons.
    That being said, the reason I didn’t vote for him is because his “plans” for Portland, the streetcar, the bridge over the Columbia, and making Portland the “most sustainable” city in America (the world?) strike me as infantile posturing. Why not work to use Portland as an example of good things and then SHARE that with other places to that other cities are EVEN BETTER? What’s the point of some kind of “sustainable culture” that aspires to trumping up your own ego over getting really good stuff accomplished?
    Ah, but isn’t that just like Sam — do what it takes to make yourself shine at the expense of truth, honesty, integrity, and true social progress.
    Well, at least we’ll have a nice new selection of jokes about 18-year-old sucking down a nice Sam Adams.

  10. Comment from Michael M.:

    My contention is that where he would have had a rubber stamp before, he’s going to meet with a lot more scrutiny now.

    That doesn’t sound like a bad thing — in fact, it sounds like a much better thing than Adams, or (especially) Leonard having a rubber stamp. The fact that Leonard can be an obstructionist, obstinate jerk when he doesn’t get his way is no reason for Adams to resign. If Leonard thinks he can’t work with Adams any longer, Leonard can resign.

  11. Comment from marcia:

    Randy needs to step back and realize we didn’t elect him mayor….it is about sex. and most of us could care less. deal with it randy and all the other puritans.

  12. Comment from Steve:

    Right, we didn’t elect Leonard mayor, but…

    Here’s the realpolitik of it: without Leonard’s support, Adams would not have been elected mayor, either, and he’s going to have a hell of a time governing while on Leonard’s (and Fish’s) shit list.

    Loyalty is critical for a mayor in our weak mayor system. We now have a divided council (Fish: “lost my faith in Mayor Adams”) and state party mucky-mucks cutting a wide berth (Wyden: “Based on the falsehoods and the misconduct … I strongly disapprove of his actions” and Kulongoski: “Only Sam knows the facts … and whether he can be the leader that the times require”). Just Out, the Oregonian, and the Tribune have all called for him to step down.

    As his isolation increases, his odds of being an effective mayor diminish in inverse proportion.

    Now, which part of what I just described is about sex?

  13. Comment from marcia:

    Then get rid of leonard. and fish…what misconduct..????????? Only Sam knows the facts and in my mind it is NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS PURITANICALS……MYOB…..MIND YOUR OWn BUSiNess and let the mayor mind his.

  14. Comment from marcia:

    P.S. You know all those politicians are just covering their own asses…thinking…well…what are the constituents going to think…OMG…well…here’s what I think…and what I am hearing at the water cooler and copier machine….WHO CARES!!! Does Sam care who I’m sleeping with? I don’t care who he’s sleeping with, as long as he can do his job…It is so CLINTON. So American …..so PURITANICAL and Christian…we just don’t CARE>>>>>

  15. Comment from Terry:

    Thomas Lauderdale, cocktail pianist?

    Call Sam Adams “Sam the Tram” all you want, Steve, hang the “couplet” and the streetcars around his neck, but please avoid insulting Thomas Lauderdale.

  16. Comment from Steve:

    I love it… get rid of the guy who was lied to and used. Keep the liar and user, because, after all, it’s none of our business with whom he has sex.

    Sure, that makes sense.

    Terry, I’d leave Lauderdale out of this, but he injected himself right smack in the middle of it all with his made-for-TV, theatre-of-the-absurd press conference.

    What’s really funny in all this is that I’m being called hysterical for pointing out how difficult it’s going to be for Adams to be effective now. Like that’s somehow my fault… The mind reels.

  17. Comment from Wacky Mommy:

    Terry, hi.

    Marcia, you know the real reason I do not care for Sam so much? When we were doing a playground build at my kids’ school, Sam showed up with a photographer end of day, posed with a shovel and split. He was there five, six minutes, tops. My mom and I were not amused, and that is why he did not get our votes.

    Insincerity devastates me.

    “DEVASTATING! Elmo learned that word from Gordon!” — Elmo, Sesame Street

  18. Comment from Marian:

    I think Steve is right on his assessment of this situation. I voted for Sam. I liked how he ran as an openly gay man, which to me demonstrated a certain honesty and strength of character.

    This scandal has nothing to do with sex. It is about abuse of power, lies, and the erosion of trust.

    A 40-something year old man in a position of power, purposefully grooming a 17 year old boy who admires him, is some shameful shit.

    Repeatedly covering it up with his over-the-top lies was an insult to all of the citizens of this city. Sam didn’t respect us enough to come clean. He only cared about his own ambitions.

    Trust is something earned. Sam threw away the trust he earned over the years with his peers and his constituents.

    I think the way Sam got into this mess and has handled it shows us just how narcissistic he really is. A person like this does not have the right stuff to lead our great city.

  19. Comment from marcia:

    Good point wacky mommy. Guess I am just enamored with the idea of seeing the mayor at the local pizza fino down the street getting take out (in north portland,) and having our area of the city on the radar since the mayor actually lives here…Well that’s not all…I do think that this boils down to a sexcapade..maybe he was shameful…but so is Gus Van Sant, and we seem to still admire his films..do artists somehow answer to some other moral code than a mayor…just a question…Or should we just be concerned about his ability to do his job…?

  20. Comment from Steve:

    “Do I look like a motha fuckin’ role model?” –NWA

    Yes, I definitely hold political leaders to a higher standard than artists.

    I could never forgive Miles Davis for beating Cicely Tyson, but I can’t live without Kinda Blue.

    Wacky Mommy is a huge fan of Roman Polanski. But she wouldn’t let him babysit our kids, or elect him mayor.

    We hire artists to make art, politicians to lead.

  21. Comment from rose:


    You may personally believe it is okay for Sam Adams to have lied and to have burned his supporters by smearing the whistle-blowers. Others have the right to disagree. That they do so does not make them puritanical or deserving of derision.

    I know from my life experiences that sexuality is often complex. At many ages we are capable of vast wrongs, rights, and everything in between.

    I also know that the law is the law. If Sam Adams had ANY sexual contact with a minor that is against the law. Men are tried and convicted for Sex abuse III, often for something as simple as touching a minor’s breast or buttock.

    If you disagree with the law, fine. Then we need to discuss why. Should the age of consent be lowered? To what age? And with what parameters? Would it have been okay for Stoops to have boys spit on his penis but not suck it? For Goldschmidt would it have been okay for his teenage babysitter to sit on his lap and rub his penis, as long it she never took it out of his pants?

    The law is imperfect because we try as a society to establish some boundaries between adults and teens. Like, say, between a 42 year old city commissioner and a 17 year old intern.

    More important to me is Sam covered up his actions and went even further by scapegoating the whistle-blower.

    This is the Portland version of the good old boys club. It has become more than obvious in Goldschmidt, Packwood, Stoops, Giusto (also known as “Thumper” for his prolific sex bunny antics) and now Sam Adams.

    Powerful white men are protected in this city. They are protected by a mainstream media. And they are protected by liaisons in the same social circles who want to make excuses for their misdeeds. “Affair,” they said about Goldschmidt screwing his babysitter, and now “prudes” for those who frown on Sam Adams lying through his teeth about calling 17-year olds for dates.

    Why is it the Oregonian protects these men? Why is it our city runs to their defense? Are we so insecure about our own abilities we think no one can replace these bozos?

    Really now. This city is full of competent people. We can confront the failings of our politicians without losing our anointed luster as the progressive capital of the northwest. It will not make us any less liberal, any less pro-gay rights, to say it was wrong for Sam Adams to lie.

  22. Comment from Steve:

    What’s interesting to me is that in this case, it’s the Mercury playing the role of the Oregonian trying to cover up the story.

    Aren’t those Mercsters just so ironic and hip?

    (The Amy Ruiz story line is interesting, in that everybody supposes it was to keep her quiet. I think it’s more likely quid pro quo for not having published a story when she could have.)

  23. Comment from Wacky Mommy:

    Rose, thank you.

  24. Comment from marcia:

    Ok.Ok. (duck and cover) I still disagree.

  25. Comment from Wacky Mommy:

    Marcia, that is fine by me. Cuz it’s freedom of speech still the last time I checked.

  26. Comment from marcia:

    i love you wacky mommy

  27. Comment from Wacky Mommy:

    i love you too. see, everyone thinks it’s hard to get along but it is not.