Portland Is Fining Taxpayers $2,000 an Hour Until Fence Protecting Fed Courthouse Is Removed

Portland, Oregon, is fining America — which is to say, fining the nation’s taxpayers, who include the city’s residents — $500 every 15 minutes a fence around a federal courthouse in the city blocks a bicycle lane.

The reason that fence is around the federal courthouse is that a subset of Portland’s residents whom Portland absolutely refuses to deal with wants to get into federal courthouse, assumedly not just to have a chat with the night staff about the work of Slavoj Žižek.

Portland Commissioner Chloe Eudaly insists she’s going to collect on this fine. Controlling the violent element within her own city isn’t, predictably, on the list.

Eudaly made clear her intention to collect in a tweetstorm earlier this week in which she slammed the “federal occupiers” stopping her city’s residents from destroying federal property and said the fines were just part of “what our state legislature and federal delegation are doing to address this unconstitutional federal aggression against our city” by President Donald Trump.

I assumed from Eudaly’s tweets that this was someone dangerously disengaged from reality and/or up for re-election. Not that the two are mutually exclusive, but The Oregonian notes that the commissioner, whose responsibilities include overseeing the city’s transportation bureau, is, in fact, in the midst of a re-election campaign.

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Whatever the case, it’s quite the thread; if you ever wanted to see what it’s like to watch a low-level elected bureaucrat yelling into the wind that she’s reclaiming her time to a federal government that isn’t particularly concerned with mollifying city officials who’ve been mollifying a mob that’s trying to burn down a courthouse, this is your chance.

“At a time when tensions were starting to decrease on our streets, Trump sent federal agents from two of the most politicized and controversial agencies — [Customs and Border Protection] and [Department of Homeland Security] — without Congressional authorization or notification, or local elected officials’ consent, into our city,” she tweeted.

“While we work to counteract their presence, we face an uphill battle in a process designed to usurp not just our local authority, but the authority of our federal representatives. We are doing everything we can — our recourse may be limited, but we’re not giving up the fight.”

Actually, all they had to do to “counteract their presence” was to enforce the law and protect the courthouse — which is how Oregon reached an agreement with the federal government to eventually draw down the federal forces the day after Eudaly’s tweetstorm. Amazing how that works.

But don’t worry, she’s going to kick them on the way out the door. See, remember that fence in the bike lane? She contacted the Portland Bureau of Transportation about that and got it “to enforce on the federal occupiers for erecting a fence in our public right of way.”

The city filed a cease-and-desist letter with the federal government, which didn’t respond; I imagine when you’re dealing with a violent rabblement using angle grinders to try and breach the fence, industrial-grade fireworks to injure law enforcement and lasers to attempt to blind them, the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s bike lane issue falls into what author Stephen Covey called, in “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” a “Quadrant 4” agenda item: not urgent and not important.

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Oh, but they should have listened. That’s because Eudaly made sure the PBOT was “assessing the maximum fine of $500 for every 15 minutes the fence obstructs our street, & we are investigating other legal remedies.”

That’s $2,000 an hour.

“As of yesterday, the federal government owes us $192,000 and counting,” she tweeted. “We intend to collect.”

So because the federal government had to take action to protect the courthouse, the people of Portland are essentially fining themselves, and every other taxpayer in America — and they “intend to collect.”

I can imagine the federal government turning around and handing Portland a bill for the city’s refusal to control a criminal mob. As long as we’re handing out bills, we might as well balance the books.

Will Portland collect on this fine?

Just so we’re clear on what we’re dealing with here, in case you haven’t paid attention to the situation in the Oregon metropolis: No reasonable observer is even bothering to call the nightly parade of violent white hipster performativity “mostly peaceful” or even remotely lawful.

Most media reports can’t even attribute a coherent message to the remnant of the original Black Lives Matter demonstrations that sprang up in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death in police custody. An Associated Press report from the courthouse protest earlier this week contrasted people who were still there to protest some form of iniquity and others who viewed the courthouse as their great white whale.

One section of the report contrasted the actions of Monica Arce, a professional midwife described as dancing along to music and waving her cellphone flashlight around, with others who weren’t there for music- or flashlight-based solidarity.

“We are not here being violent or being destructive. We have a positive message — there is nothing to quell here,” Arce told the AP, referencing the president’s statement he’d deployed federal agents to quell the unrest.

“The people of Portland are saying, ‘We don’t want this presence here and we don’t think we need them at all,’” she said.

“As she spoke, small pods of three to four protesters dressed in black circulated in the crowd, stopping every few minutes to point green laser beams in the eyes of agents posted as lookouts on porticoes on the courthouse’s upper stories,” the report continued. “The agents above were silhouetted against the dark sky as dozens of green laser dots and a large spotlight played on the courthouse walls, projected from the back of the crowd.

“Thirty minutes later, someone fired a commercial-grade firework inside the fence. Next came a flare and then protesters began using an angle grinder to eat away at the fence. A barrage of items came whizzing into the courthouse: rocks, cans of beans, water bottles, potatoes and rubber bouncy balls that cause the agents to slip and fall.”

I may be mistaken, but I don’t think they were doing this because they’d been riding their fixie, found the bike lane blocked by a federally erected fence, and just happened to have some commercial-grade fireworks and an angle-grinder on them.

My assumption, which I don’t think is an unreasonable one, is that this fine is touted occasionally by Eudaly until maybe 15 minutes after Election Day, after which it’ll never be mentioned again. There’s always the off-chance the commissioner will treat it like Milton’s red stapler and make it her mission to act as a collection agency on the federal government, determined to get her $192,000. I would imagine the approach would be highly dependent on whoever ends up winning the presidential election.

Whatever the case, there’s one thing this tweetstorm should teach us all about Commissioner Chloe Eudaly: At a time when her citizens were trying to raze a federal courthouse, her concern was that the federal government’s fence protecting that courthouse blocked a bike lane.

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