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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Election 2008 Bob Ball—Probably Toast

Posted by Scott Moore on Tue, Sep 18 at 1:52 PM

Leaving city hall a bit ago, I ran into a member of the local news media, getting ready to broadcast a report on Bob Ball’s rumors about Sam Adams.

“I hate this story,” he confessed. “I feel like I’m being used.”

That honest assessment pretty well sums up the story so far, as everyone I’ve talked to in the city sees it. Ball not only spread the rumors around about Adams (his claim that he only told Randy Leonard and Vera Katz simply isn’t true; he dropped that story, or allusions to it, to numerous people in the city), but he also lied about who he told, and then promptly split town, offering only one faxed response that said the story wasn’t about him.

But, certainly, the media picked up the gossip and ran with it. Nigel Jaquiss is now the toast of the KXL set; on his show two hours ago, Lars Larson effectively made the claim that Adams was having sex with a minor.

Adams is used to getting hit from the right—especially Lars. But this hit came from Ball, another openly gay man.

“If this had come from the right wing—and it probably will now—that would have been one thing,” Adams told me this morning. “But to come from another gay man is something more hurtful. It plays into the worst, deep-seeded fears society has about gay men: You can’t trust them with your young.”

With the exception of the Oregonian’s level-headed piece this morning, I haven’t seen much in the way of anyone trying to peel back the layers of the story. So here’s an attempt:

Bob Ball—the most potential rival to face off against Adams if they both run for mayor—heard a story from a former Adams staffer that the commissioner had befriended 17-year-old Beau Breedlove. They had dinner a couple of times—which the boy’s boyfriend picked him up from—and he even went to the young man’s family birthday party. That’s the extent of the allegation—that Adams befriended a 17-year-old who approached him looking for advice on coming out of the closet and whether it was possible to be a gay man in politics.

Ball is incommunicado, so we’ll have to guess at his motivations. He anticipated a certain amount of ingrained societal homophobia, such that a story in which nothing inappropriate is even alleged would gain political traction and throw Adams out of the race for mayor. All indications, though, are that the story has backfired on Ball, and I, personally, would be shocked if he can salvage any kind of political future for himself.

It’s not just the unfounded allegation or whisper campaign, but the fact that he’s been caught in at least two lies about the story. First, he told the Oregonian that he knew nothing about the rumor last week, which was blatantly false. Then, he called Leonard and asked him if he had told the Oregonian, because Leonard was the only person he had told about it. That, too, was blatantly false—Ball had met days before with Vera Katz, and Leonard knew it.

Ball has backed himself into a corner, and there’s not much of a way out. On the flip side, all Adams has to do is be upfront (“open and honest, and to give verifiable proof” says Adams) and the net political gain vis a vis Ball could be huge.

Perhaps the most startling thing about the story is Willamette Week's piece, penned by Nigel Jaquiss. The easiest way to read it is through Jaquiss's apparent Goldschmidt fixation and, by extension, his fixation on his Pulitzer. Even though the two stories aren't analogous in the least, Jaquiss appears to believe that this is simply a retelling of the Goldschmidt story. In Jaquiss's world, a gay man can't have contact with an underage male without there being a sexual advance, or without everyone worrying about the appearance of salaciousness. When you're a hammer, as they say, everything looks like a nail.

WW's quick buy-in to the homophobic frame--that of course all gay men are sexual predators!--also speaks volumes.

"The ironic part of this is that even Big Brothers and Big Sisters frequently pairs Queer adults with Queer youth," says Adams. "Not that a straight Big Brother wouldn't be great for a Queer youth, or vice versa, but they have a shared experience. I hope this doesn't have a chilling effect on the mentoring that should go on between Queer youth and adults."

"I'm hoping that this gives me an opportunity to talk about the bigger issues here," he added. "Like the fact that it's apparently still not okay to be gay in certain situations. It's as if, because I'm gay, I can't have any meaningful interaction with males under the age of 18."

Two final thoughts on talking points you'll be hearing in the next couple of weeks, as debuted on the Lars show today:

1. If Adams was a heterosexual man who met with a 17-year-old girl to talk about her sexual activities, all you Portland liberals would be demanding his resignation instead of coming to his support.

First, Adams wasn't discussing anyone's sexual activities, but giving Breedlove advice on coming out to his family and how to navigate politics while being an out gay man. The Lars set is so fixated on sex that any discussion of orientation must, of course, be salacious. Second, the reason Breedlove approached Adams is because he needed advice on being out in the political world. Who was he going to talk to? His substitute math teacher? His priest? No--he's going to seek advice from someone who's similarly situated.

2. All you liberals who called for the resignation of Marc Foley should demand the same from Sam Adams.

Foley was a despicable perv because he was sexually soliciting his pages through emails and text messages. According to both Adams and Breedlove, there was nothing even remotely sexual about their exchanges. End of story.

Comments

Thank you Scott for saying what the Oregonian couldn't and what Willamette Week wouldn't.

Thanks from me, too, for helping elucidate this situation further. I just hope television news will be able to evolve beyond the "Adams calls Ball's allegation a smear" sort of "he said, he said" mold that they're currently using. It really does a disservice to the viewer.

Given the behavior of Ball during the Curiously-Strong Mayor debate, I can only say: Good riddance.

What has happened to Nigel? First Betsy Johnson, now this--he's taking whatever smears someone can come up with and call into him, and is running with it.

??

Wow, the comments on Sam's blog sure support your assertion that Bob Ball's name is mud.

I think most of us who work with Sam regularly have the same reaction. In an everyday setting, we'd all admit that he's human, with strengths and weaknesses like the rest of us (though coupled with an amazing passion for public service). But the ... grossness of the Bob Ball assertion is getting people defensive and causing them to support Sam even more strongly. It may, in the end, actually solidify his support, and it certainly seems to be defining Bob Ball as the mud-slinging, dirty-playing candidate.

Nige is a whore, or perhaps th' Willy is tired of being second fiddle to the Merc, which is silly because the Merc's political coverage is basically nonexistant.

However, how can we spin this into a way of ruining Lars Larson forever? I used to enjoy calling into shows like his and acting like I agreed with everything the host was saying, but leading them around and around until I took them away from spin and into openly, bluntly saying whatever actual racist/sexist/heterosexist point they were trying to convey.

It ain't hard to do. Get him to say 'fag' on the air, and that gun totin' sissy is looking for a job elsewhere.

Thanks, Scott. I was looking for a quick, painless way to get up to speed on this mess, and your post did the job nicely.

I just realized the irony that there's one man here who's clammed up and left town, and it's the accuser. Kind of explains everything, no?

because the Merc's political coverage is basically nonexistant.

Yikes, I guess my boss should start wondering why he signs my paycheck.

As someone who has known Sam Adams for at least 10 years, if not more, I seriously doubt he would have done anything untoward with regard to Mr. Breedlove. There are plenty of gay men in this town who have perfectly above board relationships with young men below the age of consent and for anyone to imply that the mere act of going to dinner or befriending someone working their way into politics is grounds for assuming something else happened, is going way beyond the pale.

Huh. Nonexistent. And yet amongst the 919 posts to Blogtown under "Politics", for example, is in essence ownership of the Charter reform and sit-lie stories.

I guess it depends on what one thinks "political coverage" is supposed to be.

(Granted, I'm biased. The only outlet in town who, intentionally or coincidentally, has taken on some of the same general outlook and approach that Portland Communique did is the Merc via Blogtown.)

I guess it depends on what one thinks "political coverage" is supposed to be.

I don't spend a lot of time looking for sex scandals--maybe that's what "political coverage" is supposed to be.

Scott, your post says Ball "split town," but I just saw Ball on KOIN. Is he back, or were you just referring to the fact that Ball was underground and not responding to inquiries for a while? (He claimed there was no political motivation, but didn't seem to assert any truth to the rumors, either.)

It's a figurative "split town." "Out of town" and "on vacation" and "family emergency" are typically political cover for "trying to avoid media attention," so I pretty much consider them all the same.

Thanks for the KOIN tip, James.

Heh, from KOIN's website: "Ball is out of the office and his assistant says it is not likely he will make a statement Tuesday."

The interview was on the sidewalk in the Pearl. It looked like it was at that construction site around 12th & Johnson (not sure where that construction site is exactly, but I'm sure you know what one I'm talking about). Maybe KOIN just happened to catch him at his workplace? Is that construction site one of his? Or maybe he was walking by his own place, apparently he lives in the Pearl. Anyway, Ball didn't look entirely prepared to be doing an interview. He looked a little ill, actually.

This is a bad day for Sam Adams, for sure. I believe him, I believe in him, and I support him 100%. I DON'T believe Bob Ball at all, and I have to wonder who supposedly told Ball all this, and why THEY didn't have the guts to go forward. Seems like someone was making something out of nothing, and that's what we're all reading about now.

Bob Ball is having a bad day too, apparenlty. I just read on some other blogs that his Wyatt Condominium project is cancelling all it's contracts with purchasers and going apartment. His company, according to the development blog on Skyscraperpage.com, The Wyatt staff (Pearl Real Estate, which I think Ball also owns) started calling purchasers to let them know their deals are off.

Not that I wish Ball ill, or anything, but HUH?

I'm really surprised that neither NW Republican nor Oregon Commentator posted anything about this today. Do they not yet know whether it merits discussion? Do they realize it's crap but don't want to post something resembling support for Sam? Whatever, I guess I just appreciate the silence.

Hey Robert, I couldn't figure out that site. Could you forward a link to smoore@portlandmercury.com?

Scott: It looks like it's from the forum.

The Merc is far superior to WW. I remember when WW was getting started and how they boldly challenged the O with clear, uncompromising, accurate reporting. The O ignored them for years; and it turns out that calculated tactic was correct. Now, WW has succeeded in becoming absolutely no threat to the O's strength: Reporting stories that usually have little substance or information. Keep up the good work, Scott; cash your paycheck with satisfaction.

nice job schooling the ww. their coverage of this was complete shit. every issue of the willy has been more and more disappointing, but this was really beyond the pale.

It is so freakin' typical of Lars Larson to pretzel up a fairly straight(sorry)forward metaphor. The parallel is NOT what the liberals would say about "a heterosexual man who met with a 17-year-old girl to talk about her sexual activities." The parallel is what would conservatives say about "an adult female legislator met with a 17-year-old girl to discuss sexual harassment and her political future."

Larson has s*** for brains and they chronically leak through his mouth.

Um, Scott, Sam probably said "deep-seated" fears. The Freudian slip is more likely yours than his.

If an attractive 40 year old male legislator had daily text messages and phone calls with a 17 year old girl who staff warned him was very interested in him, you don't think it would be a story?

"If an attractive 40 year old male legislator had daily text messages and phone calls with a 17 year old girl who staff warned him was very interested in him, you don't think it would be a story?"

Not when the parents of the 17 year-old are aware of the mentoring, as is the 17 year old's boyfriend/girlfriend.

Scott's reporting here is excellent and he also does fine work with the Merc and Bus Project sponsored Debate Club. I am really glad he called out the WW's bull. I don't know what is up with them but they have been writing stories like this and the Merkley piece recently that are just crap. Despite not having a Pulitzer im sure Scott could show Nigel a thing or two about how to report real stories not just tailor facts to make scandal addicted mind seem somewhat attached to reality

i think it would be best to keep in mind that regardless of the sexual nature of the relationship, Adams' staff was clearly prepared for the "leak." Ball could merely be the fall-person because he is a main rival. All possible candidates speak with former and current political powers, with various topics being discussed. It would be naive to think they would not discuss potential skeletons in closets of anyone not in that room. Its how politics work. I seriously doubt Leonard actually said what's reported to Ball.

"I seriously doubt Leonard actually said what's reported to Ball."

Huh?

Leonard said something reported to Ball? Me thinks you have some actors in the wrong roles there.

That said, why do you assume Leonard is lying about his reaction?

Seems like a hell of an accusation you make, which is based on what precisely?

What is so wonderfully ironic about all of this is that Bob Ball is usually the one I have seen over the years dating much younger men. However, that is not necessarily illegal nor inappropriate. Sam, on the other hand, has generally been known to date men more in his age bracket. It is curious, though, and telling that Bob Ball, who I have seen over the years with a trophy youngin' on his arm at various events, would do something like this. What is even more outrageous is that he was good friends with Mike Garvey back in the day when someone screwed Mike's career 10 years by suggesting sexual impropriety.....which lead to a disparate investigation because the alleged impropriety happened to be male on male.

Bob....you are toast!

Ball is dating a teenager who works at his company. No one knows this. My mother was going to buy a condo at his building and met the boy toy on a tour.

To accuse Adams of this is incredible. My friend at Portland GOlf club says Ball got this teenager a free membership so they could hit the clubs together.

Ball lied to the Oregonian, i am waiting to see when they find out if Adams lied.

Who knows about Adams, but Ball likes them young, and a multi-millionaire can get away with more than Vera's gay career politician.

Anyone but Adams and Ball.

Ball is dating a teenager who works at his company. No one knows this. My mother was going to buy a condo at his building and met the boy toy on a tour.

To accuse Adams of this is incredible. My friend at Portland GOlf club says Ball got this teenager a free membership so they could hit the clubs together.

Ball lied to the Oregonian, i am waiting to see when they find out if Adams lied.

Who knows about Adams, but Ball likes them young, and a multi-millionaire can get away with more than Vera's gay career politician.

Anyone but Adams and Ball.

roger your claims are just as baseless as anything already said on this blog. take your ignorance elsewhere

Haha..nonexistent. Is there ANY publication in town that covers City Hall as well as the Merc? Don't get me wrong, I'm happy to have four sets of eyes down there, but as far as I'm concerned nobody else can touch the Mercury's coverage.

As for Jaquiss mindlessly repeating allegations, let's not forget the ridiculous "Good/Bad/Ugly" issue, which claims to give us the "inside scoop" on our legislators by providing a forum for lobbyists to anonymously slam those legislators that don't meet their expectations.

The WW has done some great things in its day its role in the Goldshmidt saga being one of the prominent things but they usually swing for the fences so hard that they just hit themselves in the ass.

I know Bob Ball and have met his current cute boy toy. As near as I can tell, Bob likes them young, judging by the current and past boy toys. Bob likes to dress up in his police reserve uniform -- maybe it makes him feel important. But for Bob to impugn the reputation of a dedicated and honest public servant like Sam Adams is truly the most despicable thing about Bob.
Ball's alleged statements about Adams' relationship with a 17-year old is all the more despicable for two reasons. First, he has allegedly impugned the reputation of a good man like Adams. Second, statements like that deter honest gay men from mentoring, advising, or even befriending any talented young man.
The negatives inherent in these two despicable effects of such statements are tragic losses to society. Talented young men, particularly politically engaged teenagers, are so very rare in our current culture. They have to be encouraged in any way that is honorable. Having a boy toy who is your flunky at home and in the office is one thing; giving advice and encouragement in a completely open and honorable way is highly commendable. Adams is entitled to the gratitude of society for the latter.

I'm tired of the character assassination in politics.

When you lie about child abuse that undermines the credibility of victims and distracts resources from real investigations.

Bob Ball and anyone else who maliciously spreads unfounded rumors about child predators deserves nothing but contempt.

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