A postcard from Portland – The Spectator World

Portland is one of the most beautiful cities in the country, located at the confluence of the Columbia and Willamette rivers. But the fading habitability hangs over it like a raw gray drizzle. After years of political chaos and an explosion of homelessness and drug-related crime, the city’s legendary quality of life is plummeting. All taxpayers in the metropolitan area of ​​2.5 million know this.

Portlandia had its appeal and its charms, and the lounges and restaurants of yesteryear still look trendy. But they are closed, stacked chairs, thank you for your patronage. Those Patagonian-clad tourists and business executives with lavish expense reports won’t be coming back anytime soon. On a warm, cloudless autumn day, the city’s once pristine downtown area should be bustling but…and it takes a while for it to be heard…it’s almost empty.

Almost. Junkies, vagabonds, alkies and lunatics roam everywhere. The dazed and ragged walk around high-end hotels and the doormen chase them away. Speed ​​junkies hit cars trying to park. Uptown in Pioneer Square, two heavily tattooed lesbians with turquoise hair kiss and caress, eyes darting in all directions. It’s urban performance art, don’t get me wrong, not eros. In Portland, the goofs run the show, and if you don’t follow the vibe, you’re the problem.

The Deschutes Brewery stands out because it’s one of the few places downtown where attractive couples and groups are obviously having a good time. Nearby, Powell’s – perhaps the most admired bookstore in the country – stays open thanks to its real estate. On Burnside Street, outside, however, a lavishly dressed woman in her 30s, carrying a tote bag, lies sprawled, torn and half-conscious on the pavement. Nearby pedestrians simply ignore it. After a few minutes, she gets up groggy and moves on.

It’s been almost two years since Portland’s orchestrated nighttime violence. Today, beautiful century-old towers and white-brick office buildings stand half-empty and vandalized. Black Lives Matters signs are in every window, preemptively, to deter glass breakers. Some high-rise apartment buildings are still under construction, but I would hate to carry construction loans or rental rights. Companies are moving to remote or suburban office complexes, and Portland is big on Zoom-y “green” work. “We don’t go downtown anymore,” residents say, Portland-style. “We support our neighborhood businesses and instead reduce our carbon footprint.”

Portland’s unrest began in earnest a decade ago with the Obama-era Occupy movement. The discord never quite ended. After 2015, anti-Trump and Black Lives Matter “peaceful protests”, vigils and marches became routine. When Covid emerged in March 2020, officials maximized lockdowns, school closures, enforced masking and draconian safety rules.

By contrast, beginning with the death of George Floyd that year, hundreds of black-clad hooligans, some carrying shields and brandishing batons, gathered nightly for anti-police skirmishes, arson attacks and vandalism. During a rampage, rioters pulled down statues of Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln and smashed windows of the Oregon Historical Society. The mayor and the police stood there, helpless and paralyzed.

At the same time, the Portland City Council drastically cut its police budget, which has since been restored. Frustrated by the lack of political support, many members of the force resigned or retired. The shrunken and persecuted police bureau currently has over a hundred vacancies it is trying to fill. Progressive District Attorney Mike Schmidt’s leniency makes the law-breaking worse. Amid an exodus of experienced prosecutors, he dismissed hundreds of lawsuits against rioters.

Portland has always had its lumber and railroad men, once upon a time, gone west and gone bankrupt. Permissive, drug-addicted and soy-boyish, the city has for decades, like San Francisco, been a magnet for misfits, juvenile runaways and drug addicts. Near Union Station, see dozens, if not hundreds, of tents pitched. Nearby, dozens of young white junkies with the saddest faces in the world sit hunched over on the sidewalk, awaiting oblivion. Foul homeless camps and lonely squatters dot the entire metropolis, blocking downtown sidewalks and trashing outlying neighborhoods.

Residents recognize escalating crime, dirty streets and an increased sense of unease and insecurity. But when faced with obvious solutions, they hit a strange psychological wall. If pushed, they slide seamlessly into Proud Boys, White Supremacy, Climate Apocalypse, Gun Violence, and Wellness. Portlandia can’t stand too much reality. So lawlessness — homicides, auto thefts and property crimes have skyrocketed since 2019 — remains unchecked. It is forbidden to mention endemic black crime.

Those who have moved to Portland and eastern Oregon often come from California and elsewhere with utopian politics, taste in disguise and an overabundance of cycling virtues to eat healthy with me. Greener than you and rarely cosmopolitan, the sage sage from Portland didn’t wake up in Brooklyn.

Portland Snowflakes of all ages are easily upset and offended. They are always on the lookout for possible violations of waking diction, etiquette and principle. Humorless and hypochondriac, says one resident, this “neurotic population is not fun to be around.” Meanwhile, the abandonment of downtown Portland has reached a critical stage. Shops, bars, restaurants, hotels and other attractions have retreated. Hotel and lodging tax revenues are down about 50% from 2019 levels. Three major hotels have announced ongoing foreclosures. Owners call it “a disaster in its own right” and blame city leaders for “doing nothing about it.”

But what can city leaders do? The rudiments of cleaning meet moral outrage. Lost in pathological compassion, much of the city is allied with protesters, “urban campers” and criminals. Callous capitalism and racism combine to force “disadvantaged” people to live on the streets and do shoplifting and theft their only option, it is said. The problem is the landlords and the exorbitant rents. The police are the enemy.

Portland’s left front makes reform impossible. Its efforts to deny time-tested modes of governance, rational thought and civic cohesion go forward in a spirit of self-righteous wickedness. The city’s woes continue, as officials and voters signal Virtue all the way. Public sympathies protect the destructive and abnormal. The lure of the wooded town fades, but not his magical thinking and his ruinous convictions. Given the stubborn devotion to progressive articles of faith, Portland’s decline does not seem temporary or even complete. It’s tragic.

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