Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Portland Mayor Sam Adams Scandal (UPDATE 8)

I know the euphoria of '08 elections was too good to be true and on the eve of Obama's inauguration, Portland's first openly gay mayor has admitted to lying about a sexual relationship with a young intern, Beau Breedlove. Willamette Week broke the story tonight and Mayor Adams issued an apology.

My gut reaction to the story is that Sam Adams should resign for lying and using poor judgment. However, I'm still going through the details:

Adams Should Resign Because:

Adams Should Not Resign Because:

Criminal Act (ORS 163.435 and/or ORS 163.415)

He may have had sex with a minor.

UPDATE: Oregon's (new) Attorney General John Kroger will investigate whether Adams' sexual relationship was criminal and if there was official misconduct. (OregonLive.com)

UPDATE 2:On OPB's Think Out Loud WWeek's Nigel Jaquiss said a key concern is what happened after a dinner Adams had with the then-underage Breedlove. Apparently, neither Adams or Breedlove specify what happened.

UPDATE 5: Breedlove confirms that then-Commissioner Adams expressed a romantic interest and kissed him on two occasions when he was 17. (OregonLive.com)

Adams' criminal defense may hinge on whether the physical contact was "for the purpose of arousing or gratifying the sexual desire of either party". (OregonLive.com)

UPDATE 7: The Mercury speculates that Breedlove's statements to The Oregonian confirm that Adams committed sexual abuse in the third degree. ORS 163.415:

"163.415 Sexual abuse in the third degree. (1) A person commits the crime of sexual abuse in the third degree if the person subjects another person to sexual contact and: . . . (b) The victim is incapable of consent by reason of being under 18 years of age. . . ."

"163.305 Definitions. As used in chapter 743
[sic], Oregon Laws 1971, unless the context requires otherwise: . . . (6) 'Sexual contact' means any touching of the sexual or other intimate parts of a person or causing such person to touch the sexual or other intimate parts of the actor for the purpose of arousing or gratifying the sexual desire of either party."

Adams supporter Dan Savage: ". . . if something happened before Breedlove turned 18, then Adams broke the law and it's over. . ." (PortlandMercury.com)

UPDATE 9: An anonymous friend of Breedlove says Breedlove said he was having sex with a Portland politician in the spring of 2005 -- before Breedlove turned 18. Breedlove's father believes Breedlove was having sex with Adams because of Breedlove's repeated trips to Portland at age 17. (KATU.com)
Adams denies having sex before Breedlove turned 18 (although waiting for a 17-year-old to become technically legal is not exactly virtuous). WWeek's three sources are unsure whether Adams had sex before or after the Breedlove turned 18.

UPDATE 2:On OPB's Think Out Loud WWeek's Nigel Jaquiss admits that Adams is in the impossible position of proving a negative regarding what happened after his dinner with the then-underage Breedlove.

UPDATE 5: Breedlove provided additional details about his relationship with Adams when he was 17 and confirmed that they only kissed and did not have sex. (OregonLive.com)

UPDATE 7: Kissing is not "sexual contact" and the contact was not unwanted.

Civil right attorney and Adams' supporter:

". . . .'There are crimes and there are crimes,' Hinkle said. 'If this was a crime, if he committed a crime by having a sexual relationship with a young man who was a couple of months shy of his 18th birthday, that is not a crime that looms large in the history of mankind.'. . ." (OregonLive.com)

UPDATE 9: Breedlove's anonymous friend and Breedlove's father have no proof to support their claims. Breedlove stands by his statement to The Oregonian that he did not have sex with Adams as a minor. (KATU.com)

Misuse Of Office

Elected officials shouldn't use the public's offices to troll for sex with teens.

UPDATE 4: The Portland Police Association speculates that Sam Adams may have used either city funds or campaign funds when he employed Mark Weiner to help in the cover-up. (WWeek.com)

UPDATE 5: While commissioner, Adams used his office to set-up a date with a 17-year-old and later had a romantic kiss with the minor in a City Hall restroom. (OregonLive.com)
Breedlove apparently approached Adams and Adams did not necessarily misuse his office. Elected officials have the right to have private lives as long as their their romantic/sex interests are legal and consensual. Breedlove was not a city employee or intern (right?).

UPDATE 4: The Portland Police Association's speculation has not been proven.

UPDATE 5: Adams first Portland meeting with Breedlove was not set-up to be a date. The City Hall restroom incident was not sexual.

Unethical Conduct

It doesn't matter whether Breedlove was technically 18 or not, Adams used his position to take advantage of an underage teen less than half his age.

UPDATE: Adams admits that while the relationship was "legal and consensual", it was "inappropriate". He even wants to apologize to Breedlove's parents. (PortlandMercury.com)

UPDATE 3: Adams' admitted sexual behavior with a student would probably be grounds for termination of a teacher or other city employee -- regardless if the activity was legal or occurred outside of work. As someone in authority, Adams' conduct must be exemplary, above question or suspicion.

UPDATE 5: Adams pursued a romantic relationship with a 17-year-old he claims he was mentoring. (OregonLive.com)

No person, especially a youth, who seeks counsel from an elected official or city should have a concern that they will be pursued romantically/sexually.

UPDATE 7: Breedlove's father does question Adams' intentions with his then underage son:
"'I cannot make any judgement on Sam,' Marty Breedlove said. But he added that Adams' involvement with Beau when he was 17, 'does have a smell of grooming.' (WWeek.com)

UPDATE 8: While Breedlove is responsible for his life choices, Adams' "mentoring" may have contributed to Breedlove's descent from early high school graduate and legislative intern to someone now portrayed as a promiscuous, daddy-chasing, convicted-felon today (sorry, that's harsh). Breedlove may have made different life choices if Adams truly mentored Breedlove and encouraged him to pursue a professional career instead of using the 17-year-old's interest for a sexual fling.
As long as Adams' relationships are with people of legal age, it's none of the public's business. Breedlove has not identified himself as a victim and does not seem to be keeping a low profile to avoid Adams or the public.

UPDATE 3: Adams was not Breedlove's teacher (although Adams had claimed he was Breedlove's mentor). Breedlove, apparently, sought out Adams for career advice(?).

UPDATE 5: Breedlove says he pursued the romantic relationship with Adams and was not a victim. (OregonLive.com)

Breedlove was seeking a romantic relationship with Adams and Adams' romantic gestures were welcomed. (OregonLive.com)

UPDATE 7: The statement from Breedlove's father does not condemn Adams.

UPDATE 8: Breedlove is far from an innocent victim in his relationship with Adams. Breedlove may have pursued similar relationship with other older men and has posed for less-than-modest photos. His character is also questionable and as he has pleaded guilty to a felony theft charge since the relationship. Adams has consistently defended Breedlove's character.

Gay Community Leader

As a high profile gay politician and leader in the gay community, Adams should have been more careful about not appearing to 'corrupt' or 'recruit' a teen.

UPDATE: Adams says that the scandal is about his lie -- not his sexual orientation. (WWeek.com)

UPDATE 3: Adams' elaborate and adamant lie that he was "mentoring" a gay youth further enforces the negative stereotype that gay men cannot be trusted with minors.

Support from the LGBT community is not free or without high expectations and standards. Adams did not campaign as a candidate who happened-to-be-gay, but sought-out and received support from the gay community. The community has the right to hold its leaders to higher standard than the bare legal code.
It's unfair to hold a gay politician to a higher standard than a straight politician. (Although I can't imagine a 42-year-old straight man befriending a 17-year-old girl and waiting for her birthday would be politically-acceptable either.)

UPDATE 3: Adams admits the relationship was inappropriate, but consensual and legal. Adams has apologized.

The LGBT community should support and stand-by its leaders especially in scandals such as this. The mayor still can do much for the gay community and we shouldn't throw-him-under-the-bus for a screw-up.

Basic Rights Oregon condemns Adams, but supports his remaining in office. (WWeek.com)

Lie

Adams lied to reporters about not having a sexual relationship with Breedlove. Adams should have either admitted the relationship or refused to answer the question.

UPDATE: Attorney General Kroger will investigation whether Adams' lies were official misconduct. (OregonLive.com)

UPDATE 5:: Adams engaged in a major cover-up for his political benefit. He had a consultant coach Breedlove to lie, told several reporters and at least one fellow commissioner that he was "mentoring" Breedlove, claimed himself to be a victim of gay-on-gay homophobia, and even used his city office to issue his elaborate lie. For 16 months, Adams repeated his lie to several reporters and only admitted the lie when forced by Willamette Week’s Nigel Jaquiss.

UPDATE 8: While lying, Adams' smeared and discredited one of Willamette Week's sources, John Vezina, by telling the newspaper that Breedlove had accused Vezina of rape. However, Adams says no police report regarding the attempted rape was made. Verzina denies Adams' accusation. Breedlove has refused to respond to WWeek to confirm or deny the rape allegation. (WWeek.com)

Conceiveably, Adams may have discouraged Breedlove from reporting the attempted rape to avoid police speculation about their relationship.

UPDATE 9: Adams purposely gave a misleading answer regarding a specific question alledging Adams spent time in a City Hall bathroom with the then-under age Breedlove. Adams told Willamette Week's Nigel Jaquiss that if was in the bathroom with Breedlove, it wasn't "very long". Breedlove told The Oregonian that he and Adams had a minute long kiss in the bathroom. (WWeek.com, OregonLive.com )

Adams continued to lie even after his January 19 confession and apology. WWeek.com reports that Adams told his staff on January 22 that he did not flirt or touch Breedlove when Breedlove was underage. On January 25, The Oregonian reported that Breedlove confirms he and Adams kissed when he was underage.
It was not fair for reporters to inquire intimate details about Adams' personal relationship. Adams could not have admitted the romantic relationship without exposing sexual details. Adams has apologized for lying.

UPDATE 8: Adams' accusation against Verzina has not been disproven.

Breedlove may not have been telling truth about the rape allegation. Adams was not a witness to the alleged crime and could have not have reported the allegation to police.

UPDATE 9: Adams' answer regarding his bathroom kiss with a 17-year-old was accurate and the length of time is irrelevant. Breedlove confirmed the more important issue that Adams did not have sex with him while he was underage.

Dishonest Campaign

Adams lied to malign and defeat a political opponent, Bob Ball.

UPDATE 4: The blog Isaac Laquedem speculates that Adams may have violated ORS 260.532 by causing Willamette Week and other newspapers to publish a false statement about himself and/or his potential opposing candidate Bob Ball. (via PortlandMercury.com)
Although part of Ball's allegation was true that Adams had a sexual relationship with Breedlove, it has not been shown that the activity was illegal. Ball was still wrong to spread rumors for his self-serving political gain without facts. Adams has apologized for lying (but not necessarily to Ball).

UPDATE: Adams continues to refuse to apologize to Ball. (WWeek.com)

UPDATE 4: The 30-day statute of limitations for ORS 260.532 may have expired (Isaac.Blogs.com)

Amy Ruiz

Adams misused his office to hire a reporter, Amy Ruiz, for a position she has no experience. The mayor may have hired the reporter to end her on-going investigation regarding the underage sex allegation.

UPDATE 2: To protect her professional reputation and employment, Ruiz has an interest in denying her hiring was improper. (Although her ignorance of the professional conflict probably does undermine journalistic ability.)

As Adams' employee, Ruiz's continuing support of Adams shows also protects her job.
WWeek admits "Mayors and city commissioners frequently hire people whose enthusiasm exceeds their experience". Adams says Ruiz was hired based on merit and "her smarts". Ruiz accepted the job and does not question why Adams hired her.

UPDATE 2: According to Ruiz's Facebook, she is organizing a rally and demonstration in support of Adams.

Commissioner Randy Leonard

Adams may have offered City Commissioner Randy Leonard the police bureau in exchange for his support during the original allegations.

UPDATE: After reading WWeek's story, Leonard has reconsidered his defense of Adams and is calling for an independent investigation. Leonard says Adams took advantage of him and used him to deceive voters.

Leonard denies ever asking to be police commissioner, but confirms Adams did ask him to consider taking the bureau. (WWeek.com 01/20 6:00P)

UPDATE 7: After Breedlove's Oregonian interview and Adams announcement to stay in office, Leonard told WWeek.com: "Sam seems detached from reality"

UPDATE 9: Leonard told The Oregonian that he no longer trusts Adams and seeks to "rein in Adams' authority to cut deals on the city's behalf".
Adams eventually did not assign the police bureau to Leonard. WWeek reports that Leonard continues to support Adams (see update), says Adams did not lie to him, and doesn't believe Adams' relationship with Breedlove is newsworthy (see update) and Adams is being targeted for being gay.

UPDATE 9: Leonard may be distancing himself from Adams for purely political reason.

Political Viability

As WWeek's article concludes, unlike other popular and effective politicians that overcame sex scandals, Adams did not disclose what he did when confronted. Adams even re-affirmed his lies to WWeek as late as Thursday in during a 45-minute interview and only admitted his lies before the paper went to press.

UPDATE: The Oregonian calls on Adams to resign because: Not only did Adams lie, but "launched an all-out public relations assault against" his political opponent and was elected "based on a lie"; insincerely "preached piously about the importance of mentoring young, confused gay men"; and only admitted the lie when Willamette Week pressed him.

Portland Tribune calls on Adams to resign for lying and for "sexual opportunism" on a teenager and it doesn't matter whether Adams' love interest was 17, 18, male or female.

Just Out calls on Adams to resign for failing "to show the principled character" of an elected official and says it is "implausible" for Adams to fulfill his hope of being a "role model and example" for gay and lesbian youth.
WWeek and other newspapers that suspected Adams or Breedlove were lying continued to investigate the sex allegations endorsed his campaign. Adams has apologized for lying.

Judgement

Adams used poor judgement and should have listened to the concerns of his staff during his relationship with Breedlove. Adams' relationship with Breedlove not only occurred after WWeek's 2004 uncovering of our former mayor's underage sex scandal, but during Adams' relationship another Northwest politician, Spokane Mayor Jim West, was making headlines for allegations of using city resources to troll of sex with teens and young men. Clearly, Adams' foolishly risked his office and political career for sex. Adams' personal relationship decision may have been politically unwise, but does not necessarily mean he is unfit for office or has done anything illegal. Like West, ultimately voters will have to decide whether Adams is fit for office.

Executive Leadership

UPDATE: Sgt. Scott Westerman, president of the Portland Police Association, says Adams should resign because his cover-up showed a "a dramatic lack of integrity.", the city previously demoted the previous police chief for an affair, and the mayor "dictates the culture". (WWeek.com 01/20 3:26P)

UPDATE 2: On OPB's Think Out Loud, a police union representative (I forgot his name) claims that no police personnel can be disciplined for lying while Adams remains in office because all police discipline goes through the mayor's office.

The police union representative also says that while Adams' may not have broke the law, the behavior Adams has admitted to, befriending a minor for sexual interest, is considered "grooming" by sexual predators. Adams' behavior would not be considered appropriate by a teacher either.

UPDATE 8: Adams' spokesman, Wade Nkrumah, abruptly resigned the day after Adams returned to work. (WWeek.com)

UPDATE 9: WWeek.com reports Carolyn Becic refused to start the job the mayor's office offered to her and will remain at her current job. She cited the difficulty the mayor's scandal with an 18-year-old has caused as a reason why she would not be effective as the mayor's "education strategies director". Interestingly, Becic's employer, Oregon Mentor, may take issue with how Adams used mentoring to pursue his romantic relationship with a 17-year-old.

WWeek.com reports that its sources say Nkrumah resigned because Adams continued to lie even after his apology.
Adams' lie was about a personal matter -- not an official city matter. Unlike the demoted former police chief, Adams relationship was not with a city employee. The police union may have other political or strategic motives demanding the mayor's resignation.

UPDATE 2: Again, Adams essentially lied about a personal matter. I can't imagine the police union, which defends officers accused of far greater unethical acts, would defend any mayor who fired an officer who lied about a personal matter.

(I'm still looking for a definition of "grooming", but I'm not sure taking a minor to a public restaurant would be considered grooming.) A teacher should be fired for having sex or expressing an sexual interest in a student; although, an admittedly weak defense, is that Adams was not Breedlove's teacher. Adams has admitted the relationship was inappropriate and seeks to apologize.

UPDATE 8: No reason provided regarding Nkrumah's resignation.

UPDATE 9: Becic could have resigned for other reasons.

Adams told KATU that Nkrumah resigned his job because it was too stressful.

State Criminal Investigation

UPDATE: The scandal and investigation(s) (OregonLive.com) will impede Adams' ability to perform his duties and lead the city. The fact that the police bureau had to call upon an outside entity to conduct the investigation shows that it is inappropriate for Adams' to remain in office.

Adams says he will resign if "it's in the city's best interest". (WWeek.com)
Adams denies breaking any laws and welcomes an investigation. (WWeek.com)

Adams' resignation would probably not stop the state's investigation.

City's Best Interest

UPDATE: Since Adams says he will resign if it's in the city's best interest, then he should resign instead of forcing voters to wait the seven months to recall him. (see: OregonLive.com)

UPDATE 2: At least one recall effort is underway: www.citizenrecall.org (oddly, it seems to be an anonymous website)

"RESIGN":
NotWithSam.com
Just Out
The Oregonian
Portland Business Journal
Portland Tribune
blogger Rev. Chuck Currie
blogger Jack Bogdanski
Lincoln City Council Rick Brissette
State recall law was designed to give elected officials a chance to prove themselves before facing a recall. Adams should still have an opportunity to prove himself just as other elected officials who faced similar scandals (i.e. President Bill Clinton, ID Senator Larry Craig, etc.).

The office of Portland mayor is designed to be a relatively weak position. Many of the mayor's decisions must be approved the a majority of the other city-wide elected commissioners.

UPDATE 2: Other online groups have formed to support Adams: Sam Is Still My Mayor, Support Sam Adams Facebook

"STAY":
City Commissioner Dan Saltzman
City Commissioner Amanda Fritz

Basic Rights Oregon
Portland Area Business Association
Democratic "mover-and-shaker" Terry Bean
former WW columnist Bryon Beck
Blue Oregon's Kari Chisholm
GayRightsWatch.com's Bryan Boyd
columnist Marc Acito
Pink Martini's Thomas Lauderdale
film director Gus Van Sant
singer Storm Large
Seattle-based sex columnist Dan Savage
US Congressman (MA) Barney Frank
and other "A-List Gays"

Surprisingly, after going through the details, I think I'm leaning toward Adams' staying in office -- although I think he has a tremendous challenge to overcome the public's trust and calls for a recall vote are still appropriate. Adams' cover-up is more damaging than the actual scandal itself.

Interestingly, the first few TV news reports I saw tonight seem to be very careful to not exploit the story.

UPDATE: I have been waffling between thinking Adams should resign or stay. Assuming that Adams did not commit a crime or misuse his office, I don't see how Adams' lie exceeds the Bill Clinton impeachment standard. Adams didn't lie under oath and didn't lie about a issue related to his duties. He lied about a personal matter. Although Adams' chicken hawk tactic of waiting for a 17-year-old to turn legal is far from virtuous and was clearly self-serving, he very well may have been trying to protect Breedlove from public exposure.

Of course, a better way of protecting Breedlove would have been to avoid the tempting sexual relationship with the teen in the first place. Worse, using the "mentoring" excuse to hide his sexual relationship only furthers the perception that gay men can't be trusted with kids. It's also puzzling why the mayor went to such lengths to deny the relationship and if there are other acts he needs to confess. Since he was so adamant in his lie, it's hard to know if his other explanations are truthful.

When the AG's investigation was announced this morning, I suspect Adams would try to ride-out the scandal, wait for the investigation to exonerate him and hope the scandal would become old news before the earliest recall effort could get underway in six months. However, the newspapers' calls for his resignation today would seem to diminish his chance of riding this out as an effective mayor instead of a Blagojevich hanger-on.

UPDATE 2: The police union's sexual predator "grooming" allegation was a little outrageous this morning, but I do agree with their argument that a teacher who conducted Adams' behavior would not keep their job. Although Adams was not a teacher, as a city employee and city leader, he was in a position of authority when he befriended Breedlove.

Nigel Jaquiss also has a good point that we don't know what Adams did after his dinner with the then-underage Breedlove. On one hand, it was good that Adams took this minor to a public place. However, since we know Adams had a sexual interest and has lied about "mentoring" Breedlove, how do we know what happened after dinner?

It's unfair to assume an older man taking a underage girl/boy to dinner has inappropriate and predatory intentions, but there are generations-old ways of protecting one's reputation from suspicion such as bringing a third person as Adams' staff suggested. Why did Adams refuse to take the most basic precautions?

Jaquiss is also correct that Adams has placed himself in the impossible position of proving a negative since his credibility is so tarnished. Although I think it's a tragic waste of Adams' potentially great political legacy, I'm now leaning towards Adams resigning.

UPDATE 5: Breedlove's interview with The Oregonian (with photos of Breedlove who brought his new dog, Lolita, to the newspaper) was supposed to help Adams instead raises more questions and doubts about Adams' character and judgement.

Oddly, now that we have more embarrassing details confirmed by Breedlove, I think we all have a better idea of the nature of Adams' relationship. While Breedlove's interview will probably only increase or re-affirm calls for Adams' resignation, there may be a slim chance that Portlanders will see how ridiculous the mayor's personal behavior was and retain him as our eccentric, Keep Portland Weird mayor. ('Yes, we're weird. We'll even retain a mayor who lied and dated a 17-year-old.'). Um, or maybe not.

UPDATE 6: Well, Mayor Sam "Blagojevich" Adams has announced that he will not resign telling Commissioner Randy Leonard that he deserves "due process". Adams issued a statement on his website announcing that he is returning to work. Interestingly, Adams' statement contained the same self-gratifying tone as his letter lying about the relationship.

UPDATE 7: Well, I'm not unswayed by Adams' successful return to work. Adams may still recover from his biggest scandal. However, there is still an investigation, possible criminal charges, and, who knows, maybe even a civil suit -- not to mention a potential recall in six months.

A SurveyUSA.com poll of 500 adults taken yesterday (after The Oregonian's Breedlove interview) for KATU shows Portlanders are divided about Adams' decision to remain in office. Forty-eight percent disagreed with Adams' decision to stay, 45% agreed, 7% unsure, but the margin of error was +/-4.5%. What this does show is that Adams did NOT need to lie back in 2007.

I still think Adams unfairly won his office and should resign and re-run.

UPDATE 9: Okay, so here are my conclusions about the on-going Adams scandal. I do believe it is in the city's best interest for Adams to resign for the following reasons:

1. The mayor has no credibility: It's tempting to believe Adams' defenders that he only lied about a private, personal matter. However, the more I learn, the more I realize that Adams has a pattern of lying with malicious intent.
- LACK OF CONSCIOUS: For 16 months Adams repeatedly lied to reporters about his romantic relationship with Breedlove. I don't claim to be naive, but it's hard for me to understand how someone can continue to lie without eventually either rationalizing-away their ethics or believing their own lie. Could Adams really have thought he was "mentoring" the 17-year-old he was dating as he so boldly and piously claimed in his press release? - MALICIOUSNESS: Adams didn't merely lie to conceal a private relationship. He lied to malign his challenger Bob Ball. He also attempted to discredit a Willamette Week source by disclosing a rape allegation against a friend John Vezina. And most recently, he said his former spokesperson, Wade Nkrumah, resigned due to the stress of the job, which Nkrumah denies. Even before the scandal, Adams was rumored to be very aggressive in pursuing his agenda, but now it seems clear that he is ruthless in who he is willing to denigrate to protect himself.
- EVASIVE AND INSINCERE APOLOGY: Even after his apology, Adams has not been forthright. He didn't make it clear that his relationship with a 17-year-old was romantic. He refuses to apologize to Bob Ball. And after hiding from the public for a week while the city ruminated over the scandal, he returned to work like nothing happened.

2. The mayor lacks character. It is understandable that gay rights supporters would be weary of a gay candidate being asked to resign due to lack of character. It wasn't that long ago that LGBTs were automatically assumed to lack character. However, being inclusive and open-minded doesn't mean we only hold our leaders to merely criminal code. It is reasonable to hope our leaders conduct their personal lives with honor and respect.
- "INAPPROPRIATE" RELATIONSHIP: Adams admits his relationship with 17-year-old Breedlove was "inappropriate", but I don't feel he has explained himself. He even claims Breedlove's youth was not a compelling reason for the relationship. However, Breedlove's spiral from early high school graduate and legislative intern to kiss-and-tell braggart, convicted felon and potentional porn mag pin-up suggests that Breedlove may not have been fully-together 17-year-old Adams describes. If anything, it seems Breedlove was likely one of the at-risk gay youth that Adams claims to counsel and support.

01/19/2009 9:37P: Original post
01/20/2009: Revised and edited.
01/21/2009: Revised and updated.
01/22/2009 11:30A: Update 2 added.
01/23/2009 9:00P: Update 3 added.
01/25/2009 10:30A: Update 5 added.
01/25/2009 11:15P: Update 6 added.
01/26/2009 8:40A: Update 7 added.
01/28/2009 9:30A: Update 8 added.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Frost/Nixon: B


Michael Sheen in "Frost/Nixon"
Originally uploaded by beastandbean

underworld_rise_of_the_lycans_movie_image_michael_sheen__4_
Originally uploaded by Cinetopia

I saw Frost/Nixon this afternoon while Scott saw Underworld: Rise of the Lycans which happened to also star Michael Sheen.

Frost was pretty much what I expected. Frank Langella's Nixon was great and Sheen's Frost was perfect once he was in interview mode. Although I haven't heard of any major criticism of the events portrayed, I do recall a few significant changes the play and movie made concerning Nixon's apology wording.

Of course the not so subtle message of the movie was what will Bush Jr's admissions and confessions be?

The Path More Often Taken


The Path More Often Taken, originally uploaded by sweber4507.

Scott raced-up to the Japanese Garden this morning to catch the light overnight snow fall before it melted.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

WhiteHouse.gov acknowledges LGBTs

'Our long national nightmare is over'. Check out the new WhiteHouse.gov to see what LGBTs have worked for:


whitehousedotgov


WhiteHouseDotGovSupportLGBT


WhiteHouseDotGovSupportLGBTAgenda


Certainly there are other even more important issues for Obama to deal with and there is no guarantee he will be able to accomplish all these goals. But it's amazing to think what could have been had McCain been elected who didn't even know what LGBT stood for.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Portland's latest city sex scandal (UPDATE 7)

I know the euphoria of '08 elections was too good to be true and on the eve of Obama's inauguration, Portland's first openly gay mayor has admitted to lying about a sexual relationship with a young intern, Beau Breedlove. Willamette Week broke the story tonight and Mayor Adams issued an apology.

My gut reaction to the story is that Sam Adams should resign for lying and using poor judgment. However, I'm still going through the details:

Adams Should Resign Because:

Adams Should Not Resign Because:

Criminal Act (ORS 163.435 and/or ORS 163.415)

He may have had sex with a minor.

UPDATE: Oregon's (new) Attorney General John Kroger will investigate whether Adams' sexual relationship was criminal and if there was official misconduct. (OregonLive.com)

UPDATE 2:On OPB's Think Out Loud WWeek's Nigel Jaquiss said a key concern is what happened after a dinner Adams had with the then-underage Breedlove. Apparently, neither Adams or Breedlove specify what happened.

UPDATE 5: Breedlove confirms that then-Commissioner Adams expressed a romantic interest and kissed him on two occasions when he was 17. (OregonLive.com)

Adams' criminal defense may hinge on whether the physical contact was "for the purpose of arousing or gratifying the sexual desire of either party". (OregonLive.com)

UPDATE 7: The Mercury speculates that Breedlove's statements to The Oregonian confirm that Adams committed sexual abuse in the third degree. ORS 163.415:

"163.415 Sexual abuse in the third degree. (1) A person commits the crime of sexual abuse in the third degree if the person subjects another person to sexual contact and: . . . (b) The victim is incapable of consent by reason of being under 18 years of age. . . ."

"163.305 Definitions. As used in chapter 743
[sic], Oregon Laws 1971, unless the context requires otherwise: . . . (6) 'Sexual contact' means any touching of the sexual or other intimate parts of a person or causing such person to touch the sexual or other intimate parts of the actor for the purpose of arousing or gratifying the sexual desire of either party."

Adams supporter Dan Savage: ". . . if something happened before Breedlove turned 18, then Adams broke the law and it's over. . ." (PortlandMercury.com)
Adams denies having sex before Breedlove turned 18 (although waiting for a 17-year-old to become technically legal is not exactly virtuous). WWeek's three sources are unsure whether Adams had sex before or after the Breedlove turned 18.

UPDATE 2:On OPB's Think Out Loud WWeek's Nigel Jaquiss admits that Adams is in the impossible position of proving a negative regarding what happened after his dinner with the then-underage Breedlove.

UPDATE 5: Breedlove provided additional details about his relationship with Adams when he was 17 and confirmed that they only kissed and did not have sex. (OregonLive.com)

UPDATE 7: Kissing is not "sexual contact" and the contact was not unwanted.

Civil right attorney and Adams' supporter:

". . . .'There are crimes and there are crimes,' Hinkle said. 'If this was a crime, if he committed a crime by having a sexual relationship with a young man who was a couple of months shy of his 18th birthday, that is not a crime that looms large in the history of mankind.'. . ." (OregonLive.com)

Misuse Of Office

Elected officials shouldn't use the public's offices to troll for sex with teens.

UPDATE 4: The Portland Police Association speculates that Sam Adams may have used either city funds or campaign funds when he employed Mark Weiner to help in the cover-up. (WWeek.com)

UPDATE 5: While commissioner, Adams used his office to set-up a date with a 17-year-old and later had a romantic kiss with the minor in a City Hall restroom. (OregonLive.com)
Breedlove apparently approached Adams and Adams did not necessarily misuse his office. Elected officials have the right to have private lives as long as their their romantic/sex interests are legal and consensual. Breedlove was not a city employee or intern (right?).

UPDATE 4: The Portland Police Association's speculation has not been proven.

UPDATE 5: Adams first Portland meeting with Breedlove was not set-up to be a date. The City Hall restroom incident was not sexual.

Unethical Conduct

It doesn't matter whether Breedlove was technically 18 or not, Adams used his position to take advantage of an underage teen less than half his age.

UPDATE: Adams admits that while the relationship was "legal and consensual", it was "inappropriate". He even wants to apologize to Breedlove's parents. (PortlandMercury.com)

UPDATE 3: Adams' admitted sexual behavior with a student would probably be grounds for termination of a teacher or other city employee -- regardless if the activity was legal or occurred outside of work. As someone in authority, Adams' conduct must be exemplary, above question or suspicion.

UPDATE 5: Adams pursued a romantic relationship with a 17-year-old he claims he was mentoring. (OregonLive.com)

No person, especially a youth, who seeks counsel from an elected official or city should have a concern that they will be pursued romantically/sexually.

UPDATE 7: Breedlove's father does question Adams' intentions with his then underage son:
"'I cannot make any judgement on Sam,' Marty Breedlove said. But he added that Adams' involvement with Beau when he was 17, 'does have a smell of grooming.' (WWeek.com)

UPDATE 8: While Breedlove is responsible for his life choices, Adams' "mentoring" may have contributed to Breedlove's descent from early high school graduate and legislative intern to someone now portrayed as a promiscuous, daddy-chasing, convicted-felon today (sorry, that's harsh). Breedlove may have made different life choices if Adams truly mentored Breedlove and encouraged him to pursue a professional career instead of using the 17-year-old's interest for a sexual fling.
As long as Adams' relationships are with people of legal age, it's none of the public's business. Breedlove has not identified himself as a victim and does not seem to be keeping a low profile to avoid Adams or the public.

UPDATE 3: Adams was not Breedlove's teacher (although Adams had claimed he was Breedlove's mentor). Breedlove, apparently, sought out Adams for career advice(?).

UPDATE 5: Breedlove says he pursued the romantic relationship with Adams and was not a victim. (OregonLive.com)

Breedlove was seeking a romantic relationship with Adams and Adams' romantic gestures were welcomed. (OregonLive.com)

UPDATE 7: The statement from Breedlove's father does not condemn Adams.

UPDATE 8: Breedlove is far from an innocent victim in his relationship with Adams. Breedlove may have pursued similar relationship with other older men and has posed for less-than-modest photos. His character is also questionable and as he has pleaded guilty to a felony theft charge since the relationship. Adams has consistently defended Breedlove's character.

Gay Community Leader

As a high profile gay politician and leader in the gay community, Adams should have been more careful about not appearing to 'corrupt' or 'recruit' a teen.

UPDATE: Adams says that the scandal is about his lie -- not his sexual orientation. (WWeek.com)

UPDATE 3: Adams' elaborate and adamant lie that he was "mentoring" a gay youth further enforces the negative stereotype that gay men cannot be trusted with minors.

Support from the LGBT community is not free or without high expectations and standards. Adams did not campaign as a candidate who happened-to-be-gay, but sought-out and received support from the gay community. The community has the right to hold its leaders to higher standard than the bare legal code.
It's unfair to hold a gay politician to a higher standard than a straight politician. (Although I can't imagine a 42-year-old straight man befriending a 17-year-old girl and waiting for her birthday would be politically-acceptable either.)

UPDATE 3: Adams admits the relationship was inappropriate, but consensual and legal. Adams has apologized.

The LGBT community should support and stand-by its leaders especially in scandals such as this. The mayor still can do much for the gay community and we shouldn't throw-him-under-the-bus for a screw-up.

Basic Rights Oregon condemns Adams, but supports his remaining in office. (WWeek.com)

Lie

Adams lied to reporters about not having a sexual relationship with Breedlove. Adams should have either admitted the relationship or refused to answer the question.

UPDATE: Attorney General Kroger will investigation whether Adams' lies were official misconduct. (OregonLive.com)

UPDATE 5:: Adams engaged in a major cover-up for his political benefit. He had a consultant coach Breedlove to lie, told several reporters and at least one fellow commissioner that he was "mentoring" Breedlove, claimed himself to be a victim of gay-on-gay homophobia, and even used his city office to issue his elaborate lie. For 16 months, Adams repeated his lie to several reporters and only admitted the lie when forced by Willamette Week’s Nigel Jaquiss.
It was not fair for reporters to inquire intimate details about Adams' personal relationship. Adams could not have admitted the romantic relationship without exposing sexual details. Adams has apologized for lying.

Dishonest Campaign

Adams lied to malign and defeat a political opponent, Bob Ball.

UPDATE 4: The blog Isaac Laquedem speculates that Adams may have violated ORS 260.532 by causing Willamette Week and other newspapers to publish a false statement about himself and/or his potential opposing candidate Bob Ball. (via PortlandMercury.com)
Although part of Ball's allegation was true that Adams had a sexual relationship with Breedlove, it has not been shown that the activity was illegal. Ball was still wrong to spread rumors for his self-serving political gain without facts. Adams has apologized for lying (but not necessarily to Ball).

UPDATE: Adams continues to refuse to apologize to Ball. (WWeek.com)

UPDATE 4: The 30-day statute of limitations for ORS 260.532 may have expired (Isaac.Blogs.com)

Amy Ruiz

Adams misused his office to hire a reporter, Amy Ruiz, for a position she has no experience. The mayor may have hired the reporter to end her on-going investigation regarding the underage sex allegation.

UPDATE 2: To protect her professional reputation and employment, Ruiz has an interest in denying her hiring was improper. (Although her ignorance of the professional conflict probably does undermine journalistic ability.)

As Adams' employee, Ruiz's continuing support of Adams shows also protects her job.
WWeek admits "Mayors and city commissioners frequently hire people whose enthusiasm exceeds their experience". Adams says Ruiz was hired based on merit and "her smarts". Ruiz accepted the job and does not question why Adams hired her.

UPDATE 2: According to Ruiz's Facebook, she is organizing a rally and demonstration in support of Adams.

Commissioner Randy Leonard

Adams may have offered City Commissioner Randy Leonard the police bureau in exchange for his support during the original allegations.

UPDATE: After reading WWeek's story, Leonard has reconsidered his defense of Adams and is calling for an independent investigation. Leonard says Adams took advantage of him and used him to deceive voters.

Leonard denies ever asking to be police commissioner, but confirms Adams did ask him to consider taking the bureau. (WWeek.com 01/20 6:00P)

UPDATE 7: After Breedlove's Oregonian interview and Adams announcement to stay in office, Leonard told WWeek.com: "Sam seems detached from reality"
Adams eventually did not assign the police bureau to Leonard. WWeek reports that Leonard continues to support Adams (see update), says Adams did not lie to him, and doesn't believe Adams' relationship with Breedlove is newsworthy (see update) and Adams is being targeted for being gay.

Political Viability

As WWeek's article concludes, unlike other popular and effective politicians that overcame sex scandals, Adams did not disclose what he did when confronted. Adams even re-affirmed his lies to WWeek as late as Thursday in during a 45-minute interview and only admitted his lies before the paper went to press.

UPDATE: The Oregonian calls on Adams to resign because: Not only did Adams lie, but "launched an all-out public relations assault against" his political opponent and was elected "based on a lie"; insincerely "preached piously about the importance of mentoring young, confused gay men"; and only admitted the lie when Willamette Week pressed him.

Portland Tribune calls on Adams to resign for lying and for "sexual opportunism" on a teenager and it doesn't matter whether Adams' love interest was 17, 18, male or female.

Just Out calls on Adams to resign for failing "to show the principled character" of an elected official and says it is "implausible" for Adams to fulfill his hope of being a "role model and example" for gay and lesbian youth.
WWeek and other newspapers that suspected Adams or Breedlove were lying continued to investigate the sex allegations endorsed his campaign. Adams has apologized for lying.

Judgement

Adams used poor judgement and should have listened to the concerns of his staff during his relationship with Breedlove. Adams' relationship with Breedlove not only occurred after WWeek's 2004 uncovering of our former mayor's underage sex scandal, but during Adams' relationship another Northwest politician, Spokane Mayor Jim West, was making headlines for allegations of using city resources to troll of sex with teens and young men. Clearly, Adams' foolishly risked his office and political career for sex. Adams' personal relationship decision may have been politically unwise, but does not necessarily mean he is unfit for office or has done anything illegal. Like West, ultimately voters will have to decide whether Adams is fit for office.

Executive Leadership

UPDATE: Sgt. Scott Westerman, president of the Portland Police Association, says Adams should resign because his cover-up showed a "a dramatic lack of integrity.", the city previously demoted the previous police chief for an affair, and the mayor "dictates the culture". (WWeek.com 01/20 3:26P)

UPDATE 2: On OPB's Think Out Loud, a police union representative (I forgot his name) claims that no police personnel can be disciplined for lying while Adams remains in office because all police discipline goes through the mayor's office.

The police union representative also says that while Adams' may not have broke the law, the behavior Adams has admitted to, befriending a minor for sexual interest, is considered "grooming" by sexual predators. Adams' behavior would not be considered appropriate by a teacher either.
Adams' lie was about a personal matter -- not an official city matter. Unlike the demoted former police chief, Adams relationship was not with a city employee. The police union may have other political or strategic motives demanding the mayor's resignation.

UPDATE 2: Again, Adams essentially lied about a personal matter. I can't imagine the police union, which defends officers accused of far greater unethical acts, would defend any mayor who fired an officer who lied about a personal matter.

(I'm still looking for a definition of "grooming", but I'm not sure taking a minor to a public restaurant would be considered grooming.) A teacher should be fired for having sex or expressing an sexual interest in a student; although, an admittedly weak defense, is that Adams was not Breedlove's teacher. Adams has admitted the relationship was inappropriate and seeks to apologize.

State Criminal Investigation

UPDATE: The scandal and investigation(s) (OregonLive.com) will impede Adams' ability to perform his duties and lead the city. The fact that the police bureau had to call upon an outside entity to conduct the investigation shows that it is inappropriate for Adams' to remain in office.

Adams says he will resign if "it's in the city's best interest". (WWeek.com)
Adams denies breaking any laws and welcomes an investigation. (WWeek.com)

Adams' resignation would probably not stop the state's investigation.

City's Best Interest

UPDATE: Since Adams says he will resign if it's in the city's best interest, then he should resign instead of forcing voters to wait the seven months to recall him. (see: OregonLive.com)

UPDATE 2: At least one recall effort is underway: www.citizenrecall.org (oddly, it seems to be an anonymous website)

"RESIGN":
NotWithSam.com
Just Out
The Oregonian
Portland Business Journal
Portland Tribune
blogger Rev. Chuck Currie
blogger Jack Bogdanski
Lincoln City Council Rick Brissette
State recall law was designed to give elected officials a chance to prove themselves before facing a recall. Adams should still have an opportunity to prove himself just as other elected officials who faced similar scandals (i.e. President Bill Clinton, ID Senator Larry Craig, etc.).

The office of Portland mayor is designed to be a relatively weak position. Many of the mayor's decisions must be approved the a majority of the other city-wide elected commissioners.

UPDATE 2: Other online groups have formed to support Adams: Sam Is Still My Mayor, Support Sam Adams Facebook

"STAY":
City Commissioner Dan Saltzman
City Commissioner Amanda Fritz

Basic Rights Oregon
Portland Area Business Association
Democratic "mover-and-shaker" Terry Bean
former WW columnist Bryon Beck
Blue Oregon's Kari Chisholm
GayRightsWatch.com's Bryan Boyd
columnist Marc Acito
Pink Martini's Thomas Lauderdale
film director Gus Van Sant
singer Storm Large
Seattle-based sex columnist Dan Savage
US Congressman (MA) Barney Frank
and other "A-List Gays"

Surprisingly, after going through the details, I think I'm leaning toward Adams' staying in office -- although I think he has a tremendous challenge to overcome the public's trust and calls for a recall vote are still appropriate. Adams' cover-up is more damaging than the actual scandal itself.

Interestingly, the first few TV news reports I saw tonight seem to be very careful to not exploit the story.

UPDATE: I have been waffling between thinking Adams should resign or stay. Assuming that Adams did not commit a crime or misuse his office, I don't see how Adams' lie exceeds the Bill Clinton impeachment standard. Adams didn't lie under oath and didn't lie about a issue related to his duties. He lied about a personal matter. Although Adams' chicken hawk tactic of waiting for a 17-year-old to turn legal is far from virtuous and was clearly self-serving, he very well may have been trying to protect Breedlove from public exposure.

Of course, a better way of protecting Breedlove would have been to avoid the tempting sexual relationship with the teen in the first place. Worse, using the "mentoring" excuse to hide his sexual relationship only furthers the perception that gay men can't be trusted with kids. It's also puzzling why the mayor went to such lengths to deny the relationship and if there are other acts he needs to confess. Since he was so adamant in his lie, it's hard to know if his other explanations are truthful.

When the AG's investigation was announced this morning, I suspect Adams would try to ride-out the scandal, wait for the investigation to exonerate him and hope the scandal would become old news before the earliest recall effort could get underway in six months. However, the newspapers' calls for his resignation today would seem to diminish his chance of riding this out as an effective mayor instead of a Blagojevich hanger-on.

UPDATE 2: The police union's sexual predator "grooming" allegation was a little outrageous this morning, but I do agree with their argument that a teacher who conducted Adams' behavior would not keep their job. Although Adams was not a teacher, as a city employee and city leader, he was in a position of authority when he befriended Breedlove.

Nigel Jaquiss also has a good point that we don't know what Adams did after his dinner with the then-underage Breedlove. On one hand, it was good that Adams took this minor to a public place. However, since we know Adams had a sexual interest and has lied about "mentoring" Breedlove, how do we know what happened after dinner?

It's unfair to assume an older man taking a underage girl/boy to dinner has inappropriate and predatory intentions, but there are generations-old ways of protecting one's reputation from suspicion such as bringing a third person as Adams' staff suggested. Why did Adams refuse to take the most basic precautions?

Jaquiss is also correct that Adams has placed himself in the impossible position of proving a negative since his credibility is so tarnished. Although I think it's a tragic waste of Adams' potentially great political legacy, I'm now leaning towards Adams resigning.

UPDATE 5: Breedlove's interview with The Oregonian (with photos of Breedlove who brought his new dog, Lolita, to the newspaper) was supposed to help Adams instead raises more questions and doubts about Adams' character and judgement.

Oddly, now that we have more embarrassing details confirmed by Breedlove, I think we all have a better idea of the nature of Adams' relationship. While Breedlove's interview will probably only increase or re-affirm calls for Adams' resignation, there may be a slim chance that Portlanders will see how ridiculous the mayor's personal behavior was and retain him as our eccentric, Keep Portland Weird mayor. ('Yes, we're weird. We'll even retain a mayor who lied and dated a 17-year-old.'). Um, or maybe not.

UPDATE 6: Well, Mayor Sam "Blagojevich" Adams has announced that he will not resign telling Commissioner Randy Leonard that he deserves "due process". Adams issued a statement on his website announcing that he is returning to work. Interestingly, Adams' statement contained the same self-gratifying tone as his letter lying about the relationship.

UPDATE 7: Well, I'm not unswayed by Adams' successful return to work. Adams may still recover from his biggest scandal. However, there is still an investigation, possible criminal charges, and, who knows, maybe even a civil suit -- not to mention a potential recall in six months.

A SurveyUSA.com poll of 500 adults taken yesterday (after The Oregonian's Breedlove interview) for KATU shows Portlanders are divided about Adams' decision to remain in office. Forty-eight percent disagreed with Adams' decision to stay, 45% agreed, 7% unsure, but the margin of error was +/-4.5%.

What this does show is that Adams did NOT need to lie back in 2007.

I still think Adams unfairly won his office and should resign and re-run.


01/19/2009 9:37P: Original post
01/20/2009: Revised and edited.
01/21/2009: Revised and updated.
01/22/2009 11:30A: Update 2 added.
01/23/2009 9:00P: Update 3 added.
01/25/2009 10:30A: Update 5 added.
01/25/2009 11:15P: Update 6 added.
01/26/2009 8:40A: Update 7 added.

B-B-Beacon Rock

The Beautiful Beacon Rock Trail

On Saturday, Scott, Sheena and I hiked up Beacon Rock in the Columbia Gorge. Even for the gorge, the wind was brutal.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Galactica Final Final Season Premiere

Cort & Fatboy's BSG at Bagdad Poster

Scott, Travis and I tried to attend the screening at the Bagdad, but discovered the geek line stretched two blocks. We decided not to risk missing the show, so I raced back home to watch it on TV.

The Season 4.5 premiere, Sometimes a Great Notion, was . . . devastating. So many major storyline reveals. So many depressed characters. It's hard to call such a dark, troubling episode "good", but it was well worth the six-month wait.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Pilot Foils Terrorist Birds


plane_crash_7_screenshot, originally uploaded by truthislove_org.

Few CNN news alert e-mails ever deliver good news, so reading something in my work inbox about a commercial airplane having crashed in the Hudson river was foreboding. However, seeing the first pictures of the plane intact with survivors really made my day. Just amazing.


Bush Jr.'s Good-bye: "9/11, 9/11, 9/11, good and evil, and, um, 9/11"

Well, at least he succeeded in making his father's one-term presidency seem far less embarrassing.


Adding Pin Wheels to the unnecessary Vancouver SUV bridge doesn't make it "green" or sustainable.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

RIP Montalban; No News; Chambers on Haggard

RIP Ricardo Montalban


kahn, originally uploaded by mordicaicaeli.

Scott called me at work today with the sad news that Ricardo Montalban passed away today.


NEWS FLASH!: No Complaints!!!!

The Oregonian's web site reports that an anti-religion billboard has not created controversy, complaints, or outrage in Portland. If I didn't know better, I would suspect The O is trying to create news.

I remember seeing this billboard a while a go. Since the billboard doesn't target a specific religion, I can see why no one really took offense. Also, there are a lot of billboards with odd messages like the saccharine Foundation For A Better Life billboards.


Ex-Gay Leader Uses Haggard Documentary To Reach Right Wingers

I am not sure what the point of Alan Chambers' commentary on a ultra-right wing "news" website publicizing Exodus to a like-minded audience. Chambers uses the Haggard story to relate his own testimony of being a closeted gay church member and, as Mike Airhart at Truth Wins Out notes, makes several negative assertions about gays and "gay life".

However, Haggard's scandal is not a typical closeted-gay-with-a-secret-life story. Haggard founded his megachurch, chose to lead a major national conservative Christian organization, and chose to lead anti-gay political campaigns. As a leader, Haggard was uniquely empowered and responsible to make sure "the church" was a safe and welcoming place for honesty about personal sexuality, beliefs, and doubts for his followers and and himself. His tragedy wasn't just that he betrayed his wife and public image, but that he did not create own church or change the conservative Christian movement to be safe places.

And yet, Chambers' and Exodus' continuing efforts to stigmatize homosexuality as "sexual brokenness", a "hurt" resulting from "underlying wounds", a lonely lifestyle, etc. would seem to further encourage conservative Christian "stragglers" to avoid ever admitting to such a serious and embarrassing condition. If Haggard bought the Exodus understanding that his natural attractions were unhealthy and rooted in sin and abuse, then it may have contributed to his desperate decision to hire a prostitute. After all, if you're going to consider yourself a "sexually broken" sinner then why not do sexually broken sinful behaviors?

REVISED and re-worded 'cuz it's my blog.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Valkyrie: C


Valkyrie Poster, originally uploaded by AsceticMonk.

Yet another long delayed mini-review. Tammam, Scott Mom, and I saw Valkyrie (IMDB.com) the weekend before last. It wasn't a terrible movie, but it wasn't outstanding either. Like the previous historical movie I saw, Valkyrie's suspense was undermined by the disappointing ending we all knew the story would have. However, unlike Sean Penn in Milk, Tom Cruise's performance didn't make the lead character very interesting or compelling. While I imagine Nazi military officers may have been stoic, it seems Cruise could have elaborated on his character's motivations.

I can see the appeal of portraying Valkyrie's story in movie form, but not all historically interesting stories make good movies. Valkyrie does bring some interesting hypothetical what-ifs, but it a History Channel special may be a more suitable place to explore such questions.

press snubs Bush Jr; Kathy to Portland!; Seattle tunnel; Ptld Auditor Cash Give-Away

I'm toying with the idea of posting news items I find interesting. Not sure I'll stick with it though.

"On a more amusing note (or maybe just sad), Milbank also references a bulletin to the White House press corps issued prior to the press conference. The memo set a tone importance and fanfare for the event. But, when the moment of the event rolled around, there was apparently such a dearth of reporters and spectators in the room that White House interns were conscripted to fill the empty chairs." (HuffPost)


Woo-hoo!:

"Comedienne Kathy Griffin has added two more shows in Portland, where the quirky outspoken comic will be taping her Bravo show special this March.

"On March 4, the 48-year-old actress will be at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall at 6:30 p.m. and again, at 9 p.m. Griffin will also tape her show, "Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List," at the shows." AllHeadlineNews.com


Seattle to build $4.25B tunnel to replace ugly/noisy Alaskan Way Viaduct (NWCN.com)


Portland City Council to give-away at least $100K+ for uninteresting Auditor election. (Merc)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

follow-up: Target.com responds

A Target.com rep promptly reponded to my e-mail inquiry/complaint about The Map. Here is an excerpt:

. . . I'm sorry that you found The Map: for the journey away from homosexuality offensive. We didn't mean to upset you, or anyone, by offering this item.

This item is actually an Amazon.com item that we feature on Target.com. When you search for an item on Target.com, we'll also search Amazon.com's selection of books, music and movies so you can have quick access to those items too. We do filter out some of the Amazon.com titles from these searches, and I'll share your comments with the team that handles that process.

Thanks for getting in touch with us. I hope you'll visit Target.com again. . . .

I stand corrected in my prior assumption that Target.com would never allow another company select and describe its product offerings. It's very bizarre.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Target selling 'ex-gay' propaganda to gay teens!?!

Wow. My ex-gay alma mater, The Portland Fellowship, scored a major, mainstream distribution deal. Target.com is selling PF's controversial cure to gay teens, The Map:

TargetTheMap1

Even more disturbing, Target.com doesn't make any mention that the publisher is a fundamentalist Christian organization that believes homosexual behavior is sinful, wrong, and unhealthy:

TargetTheMap2

This is very surpising, especially for a store that certainly has many LGBT customers, boasts a Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Business Council and "proudly supports" gay-positive organizations like Reaching Out LGBT MBA Conference. It seems at odds to appear gay-friendly while selling an essentially anti-gay product. Even worse, steathly promoting a product targeted at gay teens. I hope this is just some terrible oversight on Target.com's part.


UPDATE:

Unfortunately, Target.com also sells another publication by ex-gay activist Chad W. Thompson (see: ExGayWatch.com), Loving Homosexuals as Jesus Would: A Fresh Christian Approach. However, unlike The Map, Loving Homosexuals' product description is a little more blantant and honest about its perspective opposing homosexuality.