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Adams’ light dimming fast

Posted by on January 21st, 2009 at 10:14 am

Adams at his press
conference yesterday.
(Photos © J. Maus)

If Mayor Sam Adams hoped for progress overnight in his effort to save his reputation and his political life, it seems things have only gotten worse.

This morning I awoke to both of our local daily newspapers — The Oregonian and the Portland Tribune — calling for him to resign immediately.

Yesterday at City Hall, in an attempt to “come clean” and start the rebuilding process, Adams was grilled by a packed room of reporters. He repeatedly told us this whole affair was “an anomaly, not a trend.” He implored us to look at “the whole swath” of his two decades of service.

Tom Miller, listening
to his boss.

Somehow, given all that was happening, he was still relatively composed and still deftly answered most of the questions being thrown at him. He sounded more humble than I’ve ever heard him, and also more listless.

I won’t soon forget the sullen, long looks on the faces of Adams’ Chief of Staff Tom Miller and policy advisor Amy Ruiz — a former reporter who’s hiring by Adams is also now being questioned.

The reporters in the room smelled blood and they were on the attack. When I spoke up with a question, it barely came out right. I have to admit, my overwhelming feeling right now is of sadness. This is a big setback for our City in many ways and it feels, at least to me, like the wind has suddenly left the sails.

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Adams acknowledged that he would have to work hard to “regain people’s trust” and said, “I have a lot of work to do.” Thinking of how Adams usually operates, when I heard that, I instantly thought to myself that today we’d see a big press release from his office with a tactical outline of action steps he’d take to make it all work out.

But since the press conference, I’ve read reaction on the Internet and in the papers, and I’ve talked to close friends and people I respect. It doesn’t look good for Adams at this point. I’m not sure if any amount of the political brilliance we’ve come to expect from him will help this time.

Front page of PortlandTribune.com.

During the press conference, several people asked about his trip to Washington D.C. He was there not just for the Inauguration of President Obama, but as a representative of Portland at a lobbying and networking event for the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

Adams is a well-known champion of sustainable transportation and bikes. As Mayor, with the reputation of Portland strongly behind him, he was poised to become an even brighter beacon for those issues. Ironically, as he faced the barrage of questions and cameras yesterday, he was supposed to be testifying in front of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Adams was there to try and influence Congress to invest economic stimulus money in something other than new highways and roads.

It’s sad to see such a shining light for a new vision of urban transportation suddenly lose its brilliance, but we have to remember that Adams has been just a spokesman for something much larger. Portland, Oregon, and America are clearly ready to ride toward a new path for transportation — it’s just sad to think that Adams might not be joining us for the ride.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter or jonathan@bikeportland.org. — Get our headlines delivered to your inbox. — Please support this independent community media outlet with a one-time contribution or monthly subscription.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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Paul Tay
Guest

I suspect impersonating Rev. Phil while biking might not be a really bad idea after all.

sh
Guest
sh

More than anything, this entire affair makes me terribly sad.

Scott Mizée
Guest

thanks for sharing your viewpoint, Jonathan.

Erik
Guest
Erik

What an unfortunante situation. It certaintly isn’t work Adams resignation though. He has lots of good work to do!

Jonathan Maus (Editor)
Guest

“He has lots of good work to do!”

I agree Erik. And I think Adams and his team could do a lot of great things for our city.

But politics is a tough and sometimes unforgiving game (Sam knows that better than anyone). Unfortunately, especially in this country, character issues can make it impossible to lead effectively.

Steve Brown
Guest

My guess is that if had let this come out earlier he would have still won mayors race. As much as we may dislike his choice of actions, we may all have to sit and wait until the recall process takes place over the next six months. The damage has already been done. Time to see what we can fix and move on.

Bjorn
Guest
Bjorn

I still support sam and do not want to see him resign. I don’t think I am alone, and right now it is important that we make our voices heard. Is anyone surprised that the tribune thinks he should resign? There are a lot of people out there who were against him in the campaign who are saying now he should leave. I stay stick with it Sam, I guess if in 3 months you find that you can’t be effective well then maybe take a look but don’t do anything rash please.

Bjorn

Jonathan Maus (Editor)
Guest

“Is anyone surprised that the tribune thinks he should resign?”

Just FYI, the Tribune endorsed Adams.

the future
Guest
the future

there are some leaders worth forgiving. i got your back sam.

chipp
Guest
chipp

I dunno. is it a problem? is he married? in a committed relationship? was breedlove 18 at the time? if he was 18 and the mayor isn’t married or in a committed relationship, then, its betweent the two of them. Get on to city business.

bahueh
Guest
bahueh

politicians have kept careers going through worse (e.g. Ted Kennedy)…but he’s got a long road back towards building trust with the public…

hope he’s got a good lawyer who’s advising him currently…

Kronda
Guest

Wow, this is sickening. No, not Sam. Yeah, he screwed up (I’m referring to the lie, not the act he lied about), but all this righteous moaning and groaning makes me sick.

Two words people: DOUBLE STANDARD. Have we already forgotten Bill “I did not have sexual relations with that woman” Clinton? He got to keep his job, and for my money, I wish he could have stayed on for another couple terms. But hey, at least W didn’t have any affairs right?

I’m not disputing that lying or asking someone to lie for you is wrong. I’m just appalled that people are calling for Sam’s head over this. To my knowledge, he wasn’t cheating on anyone, and he didn’t do anything illegal. If he lied about embezzling from the government, I’d hop on the band wagon. But this–well, maybe it’s just me, but I never really expect politicians or gay men to keep it in their pants and Sam is both. Quelle surprise!

I hope this whole thing ends up being more of a Vanessa Williams-type bump in the road, and not the career-ending scandal so many people are making it out to be. If that happens, the real losers will be us.

Magnus Johannesson
Guest
Magnus Johannesson

Being born in Europe I still get culture shock when I see sex scandals based on consensual sex between adults that at times ruin careers. In many countries around the world this barely would have made the news. No wonder Sam didn’t come clean during the campaign. I hope this dies down fast so that Sam can go back to running the City. Stay tough, Sam.

Jonathan Maus (Editor)
Guest

Kronda and others,

The thing with this situation is that it’s not just the relationship with Breedlove that is making it hard for Adams to recover… I think for a lot of people it’s the way he handled the lie and the political moves he made when it first came up.

Marion
Guest
Marion

I agree with Kronda.. whole heartedly. Let’s give him a break.. and hope he leads with his head next time he’s faced with temptation.

Daniel (teknotus) Johnson
Guest
Daniel (teknotus) Johnson

It amazes me that one tidbit about a politicians personal life is enough to get two newspapers to instantly call for his resignation. I hear murmers about affairs, and such going on around the political scene, and really I don’t care who is involved as long as they do their job of making the city I live in great. So what Sam did was bad judgement as far as relationships are concerned. Use that knowledge to avoid getting in a relationship with Sam, or discourage your son from getting in a relationship with him. That is a whole different, and in my mind completely unrelated issue from running a city. I wouldn’t have even mentioned this issue on the front page. I care about the Mayors conference, and unfortunately this issue has ruined that for our city.

Kronda
Guest

I think for a lot of people it’s the way he handled the lie and the political moves he made when it first came up.

Jonathan,

I understand that, and I agree that it was handled badly. Really badly. But I also understand that people make mistakes and I totally understand how he could have freaked out and lied about it. Panic and good choices don’t really go together.

I just don’t think it’s a mistake worth ending his career and I think a lot of people are throwing stones from glass houses.

Marion
Guest
Marion

Right. I get that Jonathan.. totally but he was not thinking with his head he was thinking with his xxxx… as is a problem for some politicians.. Clinton, Goldschmidt, Frank etc.. Abuse of power on a personal level is not o.k.. but I am hoping that he and the people of Portland can let him lead. We all believed he could in the absence of this mess.

Hollie
Guest
Hollie

This depresses the hell out of me. It seems like with every pivotal Obama Moment there is, somewhere else in the country and on a smaller scale, something that happens in the opposite direction of progress: the passing of prop 8 and the potential downfall of Sam Adams.

Sam’s only reason for resigning at this point would be to acknowledge that he’d lost credibility with the sanctimonious people who honestly feel that this has much bearing on his abilities as a leader. It confuses me that his entire record would be null and void because of this.

Sam is still my mayor. I want those who are like-minded to rally around him with me in a public way to garner support for his continued service as mayor.

What can we do?

sanita
Guest
sanita

this is so ridiculous. who cares about who he is or isn’t, has or hasn’t slept with. it’s not my business and frankly it’s not yours (the public) either. keep on sam…chin up, and don’t let the bastards get you down.

The Man
Guest
The Man

Seriously folks. He had legal consensual sex. If anything we should congratulate him. The fact that he lied about it is par for the course when it comes to politicians, but in my humble opinion it is the media, or shall I say the vultures, that force good people like Sam Adams to feel like they have to lie in situations like this. Let’s put this baby to bed and get back to business.

redhippie
Guest
redhippie

Practicality time.

Sam F-up.

True, but he is also the best Mayor we have had here since Bud Clark. The man is hands on and accountable. Just look at the snow storm. How many leaders do you see up infront of the cameras actually leading? Not jsut giving sound bites, but actually leading.

When you ask for his resignation, ask your self what his replacement will be like. Will he/she be better or worse? Sure Sam messed up, but in these trying times, we need a strong leader. We need Sam. So in my Conservative Republican mind he needs to stay in office and see us through these times.

toddistic
Guest
toddistic

Whatever happened to ‘don’t kiss and tell’?

Daniel (teknotus) Johnson
Guest
Daniel (teknotus) Johnson

Re #19 Hollie

You said the word rally. Get a group of people together at City hall with signs saying “Sam please don’t resign”.

Jonathan Maus (Editor)
Guest

Kronda and Marion,

Thanks. I was just pointing something out. I think the crux into the future will be how the people of our city frame their support or lack of support.

“What can we do?”

Like any issue that comes up. Organize. Network. Hold an event. Get some attention for your position and state your case clearly and sincerely.

On last night’s 11 o’clock news they featured a screenshot of that “recall Sam Adams” blog. I wonder if someone will create a “Sam Is Still Our Mayor” blog?

Marion
Guest
Marion

Right.. I would go down to city hall with a sign.. anyone else?

Erik Sandblom
Guest

I think for a lot of people it’s the way he handled the lie and the political moves he made when it first came up.

Why is it OK for reporters to ask politicians about their sex lives in the first place?

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

This was not a mistake, it was a calculated cover up on the part of Sam Adams and his political machine.

He lied.
He got Breedlove to lie.
He got staff to coach Breedlove on how to lie.
He destroyed another man’s political career with his lie.
He used homophobia as a cover to his lie.

All to gain a political office.

Whisky Tango Foxtrot
Guest
Whisky Tango Foxtrot

“Why is it OK for reporters to ask politicians about their sex lives in the first place?”

Um…because he was having sex with a minor. If you really believe he waited until the kid was 18, then you probably also believe Clinton didn’t inhale.

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

What about the ridiculous appointment of Amy Ruiz to the sustainability position in his office?

Why would a journalist, investigating this very issue, even be considered qualified to hold the position?

Snowflake Seven
Guest

@#19 “What can we do?”

Personally, I wrote an encouraging email to Sam and an “outraged at your immaturity” email to the papers.

When Sam was running for office I didn’t even know he was gay. But it wouldn’t have mattered if I did. I voted for his policy positions and what they can do to move this city forward.

As long as nothing illegal took place, I do not care who was intimate with whom.

The Portland I love and believe in is more progressive and open-minded than this. If you agree its time to speak up for Sam.

Whisky Tango Foxtrot
Guest
Whisky Tango Foxtrot

I’ll go downtown with a sign – something like this:

“NAMBLA Supports Sam Adams”

mikeybikey
Guest
mikeybikey

I know that a lot of people are concerned about how he lied about it in the campaign and find it especially depressing in contrast to Obama’s campaign. But I’m over the kool-aide and must say let’s be clear here: I remember Obama making all kinds of progressive promises in the primary campaign, only to get the nomination and then start upholding the status quo. His cabinet is full of Clinton-era folks. Even here on BP, there was widespread disappointment and apologetics for his Transportation pick. Personally, I am way more concerned about this kind of lie than I am about Adams not being fully honest about a legal sexual relationship that we have no business hearing about in the first place. I am disappointed in him for feeling that he had to lie about it, but he’s a human being and I can understand why he made the mistake. Until he engages in illegal activities or starts having some major policy reversals, I’ll still support him as Mayor.

Wyatt Baldwin
Guest

I’m confounded as to why this is news. Why was someone investigating Adam’s personal life in the first place? Given that it’s none of anyone’s business, I don’t care that he lied about it. The question shouldn’t have been asked in the first place.

When I first heard about this, I assumed there must have been some sort of impropriety, but it looks like just more of the celebrity obsession/scandal-mongering that we love so much in this country (and what exactly is the fascination?!). That and a pretext for Adam’s political opponents.

The ones doing the damage are the ones making a big stink out of nothing. Maybe *they* should all resign.

jonno
Guest
jonno

My biggest concern about continuing to support Adams because of his good work on transportation is this:

What if he’s not being honest about other critical details here? He’s already admitted that he lied about the sex and the “mentoring” status of the relationship, and now the Amy Ruiz hiring looks fishy too. But he insists the boy was 18 at the time — what if that’s a lie too? What if there are other sordid, sleazy details related to the coverup?

Once a liar, always untrustworthy, unfortunately. Anyone left supporting him if another lie comes out is going to have credibility issues of their own. I wouldn’t want to be part of that.

On the other hand, if we didn’t have so many sanctimonious puritans passing judgment on the consensual sex lives of others, I doubt that Adams would have felt the need to lie in the first place since (he says) he broke no laws. In that sense, I empathize with his situation. But coulda-woulda-shoulda; it doesn’t justify the dishonesty, and a better man might have come clean and kept his integrity intact.

Erik Sandblom
Guest

“Why is it OK for reporters to ask politicians about their sex lives in the first place?”

Um…because he was having sex with a minor. If you really believe he waited until the kid was 18, then you probably also believe Clinton didn’t inhale.

Well I’m glad we agree that it’s not a matter for public discussion if the other guy was an adult. Regarding exactly when they had sex, accept that you don’t have that information.

carlos
Guest
carlos

I read this on another blog at oregonlive.com so I’m not sure how much of it is fact, but Amy Ruiz first broke this story during the mayoral campaign. She was later given a job by Sam Adams that was double what she made at the mercury. Further more she herself admitted to not knowing much about the inner workings of the position. If this is true wouldn’t he be manipulating the tax payers money for his own personal gain?

Not to mention he lied, and forced others to lie for him. This is what bothers me the most. Politicians are where they are because the people who put them there trust in them. Without that the whole system breaks down.

I didn’t think it was right when Bill Clinton lied, and I don’t think it is right in this case either. With that said it’s not my place to pass judgment and I only hope that our elected officials will review all the facts of the case and come to an appropriate decision.

Moo
Guest
Moo

I think he would only resign if there were the slightest chance that an investigation would uncover that the consensual sex was with the kid when he was 17. Otherwise, Sam should be ready to fight for what’s right.

Hollie
Guest
Hollie

samisstillmymayor.blogspot.com

Whisky Tango Foxtrot
Guest
Whisky Tango Foxtrot

Well I’m glad we agree that it’s not a matter for public discussion if the other guy was an adult. Regarding exactly when they had sex, accept that you don’t have that information.

I don’t understand this way of thinking. Are you saying that it’s ok that he lied and covered it up because people shouldn’t have been asking him about it in the first place?

Like many others have said – I could care less about the sex, it’s the deception that bothers me.

I also think that if this were some bike hating neocon the same people defending Adams would be calling for the neocon’s head. It’s partisan hypocrisy at its worst.

Paul Tay
Guest

Partisan hypocrisy at its best? Don’tcha just LOVE it!

steve
Guest
steve

Bye bye Sam the tram! Maybe he can find work as a bridge mover?

Erik Sandblom
Guest

Whisky Tango Foxtrot, I’m not saying it’s okay to lie. I just think the sex lives of politicians is not for public discussion. I wish reporters would stop asking that kind of question.

Whisky Tango Foxtrot
Guest
Whisky Tango Foxtrot

I’m not saying it’s okay to lie. I just think the sex lives of politicians is not for public discussion. I wish reporters would stop asking that kind of question.

I completely agree.

Kronda
Guest

@mikeybikey: Excellent points!

@Hollie Awesome, I signed up to follow the blog.

steve
Guest
steve
Ron
Guest
Ron

You can give Sam a message of support at this link: http://www.portlandonline.com/mayor/index.cfm?c=49271

I for one am ready to move on, the apology was enough. He needs to rebuild trust with his consituents but that is doable. We need his voice.

Icarus Falling
Guest
Icarus Falling

He should do the city a favor and resign now.

The apology is not enough.

He is supposed to be a representative of the City Of Portland.

I do not want him representing me, my city, or cycling anymore.

Icarus Falling
Guest
Icarus Falling

I also think some of you are glossing over the fact that the boy certainly must not have been 18 yet at the time of the relationship.

If he had been, there would be no reason for the lies and cover ups.

So, with that in mind, he broke the rules.

It is no longer just sex when it is with a minor.

it is a crime.

Jeff P
Guest
Jeff P

The most unfotunate aspect of this to me is the fact that he was mentoring a youth on furthering a political career and the example he demonstrated was that lying to voters to better your position is an acceptable ‘necessity’.

Sorry, but that is not acceptable for todays youth or todays up and coming politicians and should not be forgivable – regardless of the circumstances.