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Thursday, March 12, 2009

What's With All The Applause?

Posted by Matt Davis on Thu, Mar 12, 2009 at 3:18 PM

I'm sitting in a council hearing about arts funding, this afternoon. Storm Large is here, wearing some stripy socks with biker boots. Another chap just addressed council wearing a suit with Birkenstocks. Extraordinary. Needless to say, the arts community is telling city council how important it is to fund the arts. They're all wearing stickers that say: "Food, Shelter, Art." But something else is on my mind, this afternoon: All the clapping.
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APPLAUSE: Giving me a goddamn headache...

I noticed yesterday, for the first time, that Mayor Sam Adams appears to have given up on asking the city council audience to hold their applause. There's a city council rule on clapping: That to show one's approval, one is supposed to wave one's hands in the air. Ridiculous, I know. In fact, it used to bug me no end when former mayor, Tom Potter, used to lecture the crowd on the importance of not applauding.

Recently, Adams has ignited discontent in the chamber when he's asked the audience to stop clapping, after people have used the three minute open session at the beginning of council to ask him to resign. It seems he decided to stop trying to tell people what to do with their hands, in the spirit of picking his battles.

But during the Timbers hearing, yesterday, there was a great deal of applause from Timbers fans. And today, there's been applause for almost every statement made by the arts people.

Timbers fans were polite enough to applaud Ted Wheeler, modestly, when he opposed the Major League Soccer plan, yesterday. But it's fair to say that the new rowdy atmosphere in council certainly makes it more intimidating for a dissenter to get up and express any doubts.

There's been no formal suspension of the council rules on clapping, as far as I'm aware. And others have approached me, perplexed by the recent change, too. Perhaps the mayor has decided he's going to take whatever applause he can get? Who knows.

I've asked the mayor's spokesman, Roy Kaufmann, whether there's been some kind of formal policy change on the issue.

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