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The unfortunate situation with Mayor Adams

Posted by on January 20th, 2009 at 11:05 am

Sam Adams interview-2.jpg

Mayor Sam Adams in
October 2007.
(Photos © J. Maus)

This is a surreal day. While I watched our new President’s moving inaugural speech this morning, it took all of my focus to not keep thinking about the big story I’d heard about the night before involving our leader here in Portland, Mayor Sam Adams.

In case you haven’t heard, yesterday afternoon Adams admitted to the Willamette Week’s Nigel Jaquiss (the same reporter who won a Pulitzer Prize in 2005 for his investigative reporting on a scandal involving Oregon Governor Neil Goldschmidt) that he lied about a relationship with former intern Beau Breedlove.

I won’t go into detail on the story, but I did want to share my thoughts and give you an opportunity to express how this news makes you feel.

This morning I noticed a thread on the Portland Bike Forums titled, Concerns over Adams. In that thread, forum member K’Tesh wrote, “My fears are that cycling projects will suffer for this.”

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Also in that thread, regular forum member Attornatus_Oregonensis wrote:

“I don’t like being lied to. I suspect many Portlanders feel that way. I just lost a lot of respect for the man. And I wonder whether all the promises he made about improving bike-related infrastructure were lies also, told to get elected. You know, just like Potter.”

Sam Adams Mayoral Welcome Party-3

Adams at his City Hall
welcome party.

Adams personal affairs are not our business, but I can’t ignore the reality as expressed in A_O’s comment above. Adams’ admission has hurt his credibility with many people in this city. How much? Will he be able to serve and accomplish as much as we hoped?

It is too early to tell what exactly will be the result of all this, but it is clear that it’s a major blow for Adams at a time when the excitement and optimism about his tenure was at an all-time high.

I realize this isn’t about bikes, but I’ve covered Adams a lot on these pages over the years, and I feel I like this is something I needed to share.

I plan to attend the press conference at City Hall in a few hours and I will report back what I hear.

What do you think about all this?

Do you think this loss of credibility will hurt his ability to accomplish the bold things we all know he has planned for biking?


Adams sent out this public statement yesterday:

I want to publicly acknowledge a mistake I have made and I want to apologize for it.

In the past, I have characterized my relationship with Beau Breedlove as purely non-sexual. That is not true. Beau Breedlove and I had a sexual relationship for a few months in the summer of 2005 after he turned 18 years of age.

I should have been honest at the time about the true nature of my relationship with Beau Breedlove when questions about my relationship with him first surfaced publicly in October 2007. In fact, Beau encouraged me to be honest about the facts of our relationship. I am deeply sorry that I asked him to lie for me.

I lied at the time because I was afraid that people would believe untrue rumors, being circulated by an undeclared mayoral opponent, that I had broken a law involving sexual relations with a minor. But this is not a good excuse.

Until today, with the exception of Beau, I have not discussed with anyone the true nature of my relationship with him: not with my colleagues, staff, friends or family.

I apologize to Beau for asking him to lie for me. I apologize to my colleagues for my poor handling of this matter. I apologize to the people of Portland for my dishonesty. I should have been truthful from the beginning.

Mayor Sam Adams

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A-dub
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A-dub

It isn’t the act that gets politicians in trouble it is the cover up. Ask Nixon, ask Clinton, etc.

Bjorn
Guest
Bjorn

This would maybe be an issue for me if the intern in question had worked for Sam, or even for some other member of city government. In fact though he was an adult who worked in another city. I don’t expect public figures to be honest with me about things that are none of my business, in the same way that if Sam (or anyone else who I don’t know personally) asked me a personal question I might not be honest with him.

I’ve read a lot of blog comments this morning and while it does seem that those who were against Sam prior to the election will be trying to take some kind of political advantage of this those of us who supported Sam based on the issues, have a responsibility to continue to press forward and help bring his promises to reality. When we look at his first 19 days he seems on his way to delivering on his campaign promises, lets not let some “moralists” use this private event that happened years ago between consenting adults and never should have been news to begin with end up derailing all the positive things that are about to happen in our city.

Bjorn

Fred
Guest
Fred

It’s very unfortunate that many people in power cannot sexually restrain themselves. We look to them for leadership and they should be setting an example for all. Mayor Adams has a larger hurdle to clear to regain the respect and trust of this community.

Matthew Denton
Guest
Matthew Denton

Lets see. The other person was over 18. And Adams wasn’t under oath when he lied about it. And they didn’t get stopped by the police in the airport bathroom while they were doing it. So there is no crime here. It is interesting, but only in a Britney Spears sort of interesting, so…

However, looking at my personal life, have I ever lied about who I’ve slept with? Yep. Cause it isn’t anyone else’s business!

Curt Dewees
Guest
Curt Dewees

I understand that the nature of politics would make it extremely difficult for Sam Adams, an age 40+ mayoral candidate, to tell the world he was having a sexual relationship with an 18-year-old. But, other than the lying part (which is understandable), who cares? My Mayor’s private life is none of my business. Mayor Adams, I support you 100 percent, and I sincerely hope and believe that the overwhelming majority of my fellow Portlanders feel the same way.

KWW
Guest
KWW

I guess the crux of the question is whether he is stretching the truth when he states that all relations of a sexual nature were after the kid was 18.

Jonathan Maus (Editor)
Guest

“My Mayor’s private life is none of my business.”

I agree with you Curt (and others). Unfortunately I just don’t think it’s that simple. I think the issue is how he handled it, what motivated his cover-up, and whether or not his standing with the public has been irreparably harmed.

BikingViking
Guest
BikingViking

I voted for Sam, and would do so again if the same candidates were running today. I would also echo some of the statements above that his sexual practices are no one’s business but his own.

However, I don’t like being lied to. A “no comment” or “I’m not going to introduce my sexual history as a campaign topic” would have been a better approach. What worries me is the slippery slope here. If Sam was willing to lie because it thought it would help him get elected, does this mean he might go a little further for some other cause.

Politicians (unfairly) are put under the microscope. Not many of us would fare well under such scrutiny. My hope is that Sam will use this adversity to inspire himself to work hard for the city, and make a valiant effort to regain our trust. Hell, he just started a couple of week ago, and he has the better part of four years to make his mark and put this behind him.

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

The difference in power, the difference in age, the position as mentor, the outright denial of the truth, the claims of dirty politics and homophobia, having the young man lie as well, to protect running for a political office, point to an amazing lack of judgment and integrity on the part of Adams.

Weren’t judgment and integrity a keystone in the campaign?

Travis Wittwer
Guest

With some of the previous comments, I concur–it is not the act, but the cover up that makes me think sleezy. However, on a number of occasions where I have had the chance to listen or speak to (at the time not Mayor) Adams, I still think he is the leader our city needs. I will watch to see if this can be resolved and put behind so that the future can move forward. Sorry is sorry. Done. Let’s cry and then move on.

bahueh
Guest
bahueh

Lying is generally systemic to a person’s behavior…however I can’t claim to understand why Adams did it.

great first month is office, pal….

Fred
Guest
Fred

I understand the argument “it’s none of our business” and no laws were broken. But he was in a situation of power with a young person coming to him for advice, leadership, mentorship, etc. He should have been big enough to restrain himself. Just like Clinton, he took advantage of the situation.

Now don’t get me wrong, I support Mayor Adams, I think he was the best candidate for the job and I voted for him and still would, but we have a new benchmark for public service and character, President Obama. It’s time for our leaders to follow the example that we all know they should live up to.

beth h
Guest

When you represent a minority, the burden of irreproachability falls harder on your shoulders. It doesn’t matter if you’re black, latino or queer. Because you’re a member of a minority you will be judged more sternly than the status quo, and that’s something any politician needs to remember when considering a run for office. It isn’t right, but it’s reality and there is NOTHING that can be done to change that quickly or easily.

Adams either didn’t do his homework, or assumed that because he didn’t make his being gay THE Issue during his rise in the political ranks, he thought he wouldn’t be held to that stricter standard. Too bad for him, and too bad for Portland.

research...
Guest
research...

#11 actually lying is generally systemic to being a person…

http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/pto-19970501-000033.html

Tomas Quinones
Guest

Seriously Folks?

Whoop-dee-freakin-doo.

Andy
Guest
Andy

Had the mayor come out with this during the election he would have been smeared as a child molester (a common falsehood already widely projected by anti-gay folks). I suspect that would have crushed him and we would now have Mayor Deshono (who stole money from a child’s trust fund).

He broke no laws, he hurt no one. This was adult, consensual sex. As for abusing his power: He was a city commissioner at the time, not exactly a big power position.

Considering that only he and Beau knew about this I think it’s big of him to come out with the truth and I respect him for that. Look at Larry Craig and Blagojevich, even caught red handed they still are lying. At least Adams had the guts to come clean. I hope this all blows over, forgive a minor sexual impropriety and get on with fixing the city’s problems.

What is this fascination with other peoples sex lives anyways.

Dave
Guest

I realize that he did the wrong thing by lying and that this hurts trust, and that’s well and good. I think it’s important to look at yourself and think “did I ever lie about something important?” When you answer ‘yes’, then ask yourself, “did I hope then, that people would be willing to trust me again?” When you answer ‘yes’ again, remember that we should always be keeping a sharp eye on what our politicians are doing (in their public life), they are under a lot of pressure from us to appear well, and they may not handle their lives any better than you and I would – they’re not any different from you and I. However, just because they don’t always do everything right doesn’t mean that they A) are bad people B) never do anything right or C) are crazed perpetual liars bent on winning power at all expense.

I don’t quite understand why we have this perception that politicians should somehow be morally superior to everyone else (or at least impeccable about covering up their unpleasant business). They’re people just like us. The whole business has felt really sensationalist on the part of the media to me.

a.O
Guest
a.O

Check this out:

http://blog.recallsamadams.com/

I bet these are the same hypocrites who voted for Dozono, you know, the guy who stole money from a child’s trust fund…

Coyote
Guest
Coyote

Yawn. He is a mayor not a priest. He lied over a trivial matter and now he has apologized for it. What else do you want?

Bada-boom!
Guest
Bada-boom!

#4: have I ever lied about who I’ve slept with?

The difference is, Adams said he didn’t sleep with someone.

In all seriousness, I wish he’d told the truth — or better yet, declined to discuss it — in the beginning, even if it cost him the election.

Real Story
Guest
Real Story

The real story isn’t the sex scandal. Nor is it the fact that Sam Adams lied.

The story is that Amy Ruiz, a reporter with the Portland Mercury, got a job working for Sam Adams for which she absolutely has zero qualifications. Amy is the same reporter who was looking into this story previously.

What’s the deal here Sam? Did you pay off Amy to keep her silent? Is that the real story here?

a.O
Guest
a.O

@ #21:

I was wondering why the Merc was asking about Ruiz, but it all makes sense now. Although I know Amy and she seems to be a very capable reporter, I wondered how she would be seen as qualified for a major policy position. I agree that the implications here, if true, are very troubling.

But, if you don’t care when your mayor lies to you to influence your vote or that he seems to have been literally counting the days until Breedlove turned 18 so he could start the sexual aspect of the relationship, why would you care if he hired someone unqualified for a policy position just to keep her quiet about his lies?

steve
Guest
steve

One must first actually have credibility, to then lose it.

steve
Guest
steve

Perfectly said a.O #22

Zaphod
Guest

His personal activity, assuming it’s legal, is none of my business and what I really care about is his effectiveness as a leader because I think his vision for the city is very close to mine.

I hope that we can collectively move on and focus on the tasks at hand.

Given how I assume this event will be perceived, I hope that his apology hits the right tone and helps retain or restore his credibility. For me personally, I have not lost faith in the man.

Donald
Guest
Donald

Boy, do I feel gpypped.

Who do we get when Sam slides aside?

bahueh
Guest
bahueh

wow…lots of apologists here already.
I think AO is onto something however..that appointment of Ruiz to keep her quiet…
keeping your enemies close is a common political practice…and there is ALWAYS something underlying reason…

Obama saw Clinton as his biggest challenger in 2012….now she’s practically unable to run against her own boss…

What’s Ruiz going to do? come out against her employer with a damning story?

KJ
Guest
KJ

I think we all need to get over the fact that politicians, like all humans, have sex, and sometimes that sex is not deemed “OK” by the common mores of the time. People lie about sex. Sometimes they make errors about who they sleep wioth because attraction is a powerful force.
News at 11: politican makes mistake! OMG!

Our society needs to shift it’s puritan attitudes about sex. I don’t give a flying F who he slept with. That does not have anything to do with the job of mayor at all.

Politicians lie about thier sex lives because it weighs more heavily on them when they err. I don’t expect my politicians to be any more than human.
And I just assume they all have some kind of sexual skeletons in thier closets. Why would this be shocking?

A gay man seeking public work in an arena known to be homophobic hides a sexual relationship? Are we surprised?! I understand why he would!

Chris
Guest
Chris

I think Sam should step down. It pains me to say it, I was really excited about the guy, but I really think he should. The whole thing is unseemly–a forty year old man sleeping with a 17 or 18 year old boy–it’s poor judgment. The lying? No good.

But the bigger issue is indeed the cover-up, and the ramifications of that. Did Amy Ruiz get the job as a means of buying her silence? There are busloads of more qualified people in this town for that position. Why was Sam so hell-bent on giving Randy the PPB? Was it political horse-trading in return for Randy going to bat for Sam? Who else knew, who else covered for Sam, and what favors does he owe them in return? It’s a matter of damaged integrity at this point.

Derrick Foxworth was demoted, humiliated, and basically run out of town on a rail for far lesser sins. Are the same people who wanted to see the top cop (and a black man, at that) taken down going to stand by Sam just because he’s charming and likes bikes?

steve
Guest
steve

You might care if it was your 17 year old son, KJ #28.

Dennis
Guest
Dennis

I smell a witch-hunt. The stench is strong, and bitter.

Sam, being deceptive regarding this, is a bad thing. Prying into someone’s sexual existence, is a worse thing. If the young man was indeed over 18, it was consensual, and not an abuse of power, it’s none of the press’ business. I find it offensive, that he was placed in the position of either telling the truth, and being relegated out of any possible hope of winning, or lying, and hoping that it’s a non-issue in the future.

There’s investigative journalism, and then there’s digging up gossip, and using it for personal glory.

Chris
Guest
Chris

a.O (#22) gets it.

If my next door neighbor wants to sleep with members of the barely legal crowd, that’s none of my business. If my mayor wants to do the same, then go to great lengths to cover it up, coach the kid to “get the story straight,” take indignant offense when confronted with his actions, smear and ruin the reputation of his political rivals in the process, and apparently make appointments and hiring decisions based on who helped him cover his ass? Well, sorry, but that is my business, and yours too.

caryebye
Guest
caryebye

Personally, I don’t care either. I’m pretty annoyed with the press, making a to-do about it. Yeah, he should have told the truth, but I can understand, why he wanted to keep his personal life aside, so focus could be on his political work. As someone who has been around politics for a long time, he knows how much the press will run with a little story and soon everyone’s talking about that instead of putting efforts towards what really matters. I actually appreciate what Randy Leonard, who has worked with Sam Adams, has said that the “I don’t think its anyone’s business.” And it’s ridiculous that on inauguration day, the front headline of the Oregonian is ‘Adams Lied about sex with teen’. And I thought 18 years is considered an adult. Just take a look at the covers of several newspapers today here: http://blog.oregonlive.com/nwheadlines/2009/01/todays_headlines_inauguration.html
It’s too bad a non-story became the top story.

I’m sorry I don’t consider this news, and I’m not interested.

Let’s get back to making CHANGE for bikes in the city of Portland.

erikv
Guest
erikv

None of our business. Who cares. I’m surprised you even posted on it.

If this is the direction you’re taking your site, I’m outta here.

solid gold
Guest
solid gold

WHO CARES?! seriously, it’s “journalism” like this which only adds more hype to the fire. this story is irrelevant to politics and bikes. it’s about a man having sex and not telling the whole world about it. wow, what a fucking crime. pun intended.

lothar
Guest
lothar

#22
+1,
but I am hoping this is just bad advise or a judgment laps on Adams part and not a persistent character flaw. As far as his privacy and what he does in ,it is not my business as long as it reflects the image that he is selling me. What baffles me is;I am sure he had mayoral ambitions in 2005, why would he consider an intern relationship a value to that end? This seems reminiscent of the Edwards situation

Darren
Guest
Darren

Hard work seems to heal all kinds of problems. How about Sam put his nose to grindstone for a few weeks and get some stuff done, in short deliver on the promises without a lot of grandstanding and we all move on, hoping this is the worst of it.

Boomstick
Guest
Boomstick

Why do we expect moral perfection from our elected officials? Has anyone here ever had a questionable sexual expirience and lied about it afterward? Did it make you untrustworthy in general because of it? So what, he lubed his crankshaft without a lot of foresight. We’ve all done it.
He’s still my mayor and I still believe he’ll do great things for Portland!

velocipede
Guest
velocipede

KJ (#28): How is it a “mistake” to intentionally lie about something to influence the outcome of an election?

A mistake is when you forget your keys, or call your girlfriend the wrong name, or make an adding error when you balance your checkbook.

Knowing that something is morally wrong and doing it anyway for personal gain at the public’s expense isn’t a “mistake.” It’s fraud.

If I knew you thought my bike was worth $500, even though it was only worth $100, but I let you keep believing that and sold it to you for $500, is that a “mistake” on my part? Should you just forget about that?

eastsidebc
Guest

I agree with BikingViking. It’s not the act that bothers me. It’s none of my business, and I don’t really care who the mayor or any other public official chooses to sleep with (as long as they’re of age). It’s the dishonesty that bothers me. I’d like to quote a selection from Obama’s speech today: “…and do our business in the light of day.” It’s just an excerpt, taken out of context at that, but I think that it’s an important thought.

On the other hand, Curt has a good point. Public acknowledgment of an affair with an 18 year old would have been political suicide, bar none. What other choice could Adams have made?

Regardless of what happens, I hope that it’s best for Portland. This is a tricky situation full of all kinds of shades of gray. We should all pause and think before deciding how to respond.

RyNO Dan
Guest
RyNO Dan

In my book it’s OK to send distractions to nosy people asking personal questions. I would have expected Mr Adams to be untruthful in this situation. Transfering this “lie” to his statements about bike infrastructure is weak minded. Lord knows the guy has high enough hurdles. Good luck Sam !

Matthew Denton
Guest
Matthew Denton

Bada-boom! #20
“The difference is, Adams said he didn’t sleep with someone.”

Huh? What do you think I’ve lied about? Do you go around and tell people that you’ve slept with people when you really haven’t? Are you applying for a job as a porn star? I go the other way, you know, tell people that I haven’t slept with people when I have. Let me give you an example: The woman got dumped by her boyfriend a week before we started dating. There was no talk or anything about dating before then, everything happened after she got dumped. And I knew the guy, we weren’t friends or anything, but I knew him. And few weeks into our relationship, he asked me if we were sleeping together. Nothing improper was going on, nobody was cheating on anyone or anything… But, it wasn’t any of his business what his ex was doing, so I told him no we weren’t. (And seriously, you expect a big lecture about how it wasn’t his business would have made the situation better? Because the only people that give that lecture are people that would have said yes, and everyone knows that.) But it was a lie…

E
Guest
E

Sex is a lousy measure of integrity. American culture is just too prudish and close-minded; public figures must be sexless beings with no private lives. Of course they lie about it! they have to! Yes the truth always comes out eventually, and then they look worse, but the fact remains that our society would not have accepted the truth up front either.

Lying about sex in this culture DOES NOT EQUAL lying about anything else. It’s just not the same thing. I’d be concerned if he’d lied about business deals, or campaign contributions, or his intentions regarding the future of the city. But a sexual relationship has nothing to do with any of this. I don’t blame him for lying, and I don’t care.

Good luck, Sam!

Mike
Guest
Mike

The only reason he lied is because people were asking inappropriate question about his personal life and a refusal to answer the question is taken as an admission by the media and American public. Let’s not forget that the reason the question was asked was because a political opponent wanted to damage him politically. If the American public were able to more accurately delineate the difference between personal and private life, politicians wouldn’t have to lie to us to keep their careers.

I think it was a sketchy relationship, and a mistake, but my friends have had sketchy relationships too and I don’t think that they shouldn’t run for public office because of them. And I don’t think people need to be forced to talk about it. If some strangers were asking me about my sex life, or a newspaper I would definitely lie and people who say differently are either lying or have awful sex 😉

Zaphod
Guest

As I read the details and timeline from other media I continue to stand by Sam.

Bob Ball who tried to use the relationship to win the election. Adams denied it and accused Ball of dirty politics. This shamed Ball and Adams wins the election.

Regardless of the validity of Ball’s accusation, it *is* dirty politics and Adams very well may have lost the election if he had tried to take the noble path at that crossroads. So while it doesn’t fill me with happiness the fact that Sam lied on this, it was the right strategic move. Ball forced the mudslinging and Sam had to choose between likely loss of the election or a lie about something that has nothing to do with the elected post.

In the same way I supported Bill Clinton despite his similar error in judgement, I’m with Sam. I hope Sam’s agenda does not get derailed in the way Clinton’s did because we have work to do.

a
Guest
a

it’s unfortunate to have lied about an inconsequential affair. let’s move on

btw, am i the only one that finds the young beau’s name amusing in this affair?

Brian Johnson
Guest

So two adults of “legal age” engage in consensual sex.

Big deal.

Really, how many folks made a decision and then regretted it and THEN lied about it? Is Sam Adams somehow perfect?

And don’t give me this business about him being a politician and the timing of his little lie– politicians are human too and thus flawed.

This is such a lame issue to be splashing all over the papers, blogs, etc.

Jeesh.

Bob
Guest
Bob

For those saying that their only issue is the fact that he lied. If he had lied about having ever shopped at Walgreen’s, would you be equally concerned?

Jonathan Maus (Editor)
Guest

erikv wrote:

“If this is the direction you’re taking your site, I’m outta here.”

caryebye wrote:

“I’m sorry I don’t consider this news, and I’m not interested.

Let’s get back to making CHANGE for bikes in the city of Portland.”

Solid Gold wrote:

“WHO CARES?! seriously, it’s “journalism” like this which only adds more hype to the fire. this story is irrelevant to politics and bikes.

thanks for the comments. The reason I think this is an important story is because Sam’s credibility is inextricably linked to his ability to “make change for bikes”.

this story impacts biking because Sam is not just our Mayor, but because he has been an ardent supporter of biking.

biking is a minority issue and it takes a leader in strong standing with the public to push for a minority issue.

Sam needs all the political/media/public support he can get to do bold things for biking and this admission/story makes it harder for him to get that support.

in addition, I posted something on it because it weighed heavily on my mind and I knew that hearing from readers would help me work through my thoughts. So for that, thank you.

carless in pdx
Guest
carless in pdx

Oh please, I don’t want to hear about anyone moralizing such a trivial issue such as this. Humans are sexually active animals. News flash! There are over 6.5 billion people in the world.

HOW do you think they got there??? Storks?

Get real, people. At least it wasnt an abuse of power.