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1984: people power: the election of Bud Clark | spandex heartthrobs: Theater of Sheep


Math professor Anna Penk of Western Oregon State College in Monmouth files a $33 million class-action suit against the Oregon State Board of Higher Education, alleging sex discrimination. After a long trial, federal Judge Helen Frye finds no evidence of systematic bias against women profs but says the state did discriminate against three of the 58 women who joined the lawsuit.

After years of wrangling, Pioneer Courthouse Square becomes a reality. A popular feature: personalized bricks, which allow 48,637 people from all over the world a chance to buy a chunk of immortality--almost. Actually, the names are expected to wear off in about 100 years.

The U.S. Senate Ethics Committee looks into whether Sen. Mark Hatfield's lobbying for a trans-African oil pipeline had anything to do with the fact that the project's backer, Greek oilman Basil Tsakos, paid Hatfield's wife $40,000 in "real-estate consulting fees." The committee later drops the case, saying there's no reason to think Hatfield did anything wrong.

A record 20 candidates file for the Portland City Council when Commissioner Charles Jordan defects to Austin, Texas, for a job--and a $20,000 pay raise--administering that city's public parks system. Former TV newsman Dick Bogle wins the scramble for Jordan's seat.

More than 10,000 Portlanders attend the first Mayor's Ball, a charity event hosted by municipal drink jockey Bud Clark. Despite organizational squabbles and financial trouble, the ball rolls on for eight more years. An attempt at revival--using the more smirk-proof moniker, the Musicians' Ball--flops in 1995.

Giving headway to the idea of legalized prostitution, the City Club goes down in history with a seminal report calling for red-light zones. Ultimately, the city's enthusiasm flags and the recommendation winds up face down in the shag. (Kris Olson, the report's author, would become Oregon's U.S. attorney 15 years later.)

Pro football blitzes the Rose City when the Portland Breakers of the ill-fated United States Football League play nine home games in Civic Stadium.

The refurbished Paramount Theater opens as the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, a.k.a. The Schnitz, marking a turning point in the city's commitment to the performing arts.

A promiscuous, saucy little vintage, with hints of aluminum, ammonia, arsenic and cyanide: Mayor Frank Ivancie decides to bottle Portland's water and flog it at the Louisiana World Exposition in New Orleans.

Police uncover a cash-and-carry drug operation in Southeast Portland. Customers enter a detached garage, stick money into a container under the scrutiny of a video camera, and cocaine or marijuana slides down a pipe in return. No muss, no fuss--until narcotics detectives get in line.

He seemed the quintessential Reaganaut: a clean-cut young Republican who upset incumbent state Rep. Annette Farmer in Southeast Portland. But then WW reveals that Pat Gillis faked a letter of support from the AARP and falsified his résumé in the Voters' Pamphlet. Outraged voters recall him from office. After a bombastic farewell on the House floor, where he "stands proud" and "burns strong," Gillis takes a job dispensing frozen treats at his mom and dad's downtown yogurt shop.

Mayor Ivancie pounds the gavel at City Hall one last time, ending a 17-year career in Portland politics. But don't relax: Citizen Frank says he plans "to rest a bit and then run for governor."

The 55-year-old Paramount sign smashes down on Broadway when workers try to remove the neon landmark. The removal is part of a downtown renovation project to include the old theater as part of the Portland Performing Arts Center.




  When Bud Clark arrived at the Yamhill Market on the night of May 15, he was greeted by throngs of supporters who were whoop-whooping it up. The early returns from the mayoral race were unbelievable. The dark horse wasn't merely posting a good showing. He was winning.

Just a dozen blocks away, in the downtown Red Lion Hotel, incumbent Mayor Frank Ivancie ducked into a restroom and threw up.

This wasn't supposed to happen.

Ivancie had made a lot of friends during his 14 years on the City Council, the last four as mayor. He kept the chamber-of-commerce crowd happy with sweetheart deals. He wooed the East Portland lunch-bucket brigade with his conservative rhetoric. By early May, he enjoyed the backing of nearly every heavy hitter in the city, from Art Reidel, Robert Pamplin and Earl Chiles to Louisiana-Pacific, Plaid Pantry and The Oregonian.

Clark, on the other hand, was a tavern owner, not a political heavyweight. He hadn't run for office since his campaign for sophomore class president at Lincoln High School in 1947. The bearded barkeep was chiefly known outside his Goose Hollow neighborhood for flashing a statue in a controversial "Expose Yourself to Art" poster. His idea of dressing up meant dusting off the lederhosen. His favorite mode of transit was bicycle or canoe. He was a foul-mouthed, 52-year-old ex-beatnik and "born-again pagan," a registered Republican who threatened to vote for Jesse Jackson.

In short, he was the consummate outsider. But while Clark's trail to the mayor's office was unlikely, it was no accident.

By 1983 Ivancie had so infuriated Portland's progressive political mafia that a handful of henchmen went looking for a challenger. "We wanted someone who was unconventional, had a history of community service and solid business sense," says veteran City Hall staffer Dave Kish. In 1983, Kish and Ernie Bonner, a former city planner, asked Clark to consider running. Clark pondered the idea that spring. And summer. And fall. Kish and others resigned themselves to a second Ivancie term.

But on Christmas day, one of Clark's relatives gave him a pair of woolen slippers packed in a tin in the shape of the new Portland Building. The gift card said, "To the mayor, with love."

Clark called Kish. "I'm running," he said. Kish responded curtly: "You're too late, Bud."

But, as would happen so often during the next few months, Clark's political inexperience would prove an asset. With less than four months to election day, and his top challenge coming from an overgrown elf, Ivancie assumed his re-election was guaranteed. In fact, no one took Clark's candidacy seriously. Well, almost no one.

"People said I wasn't serious," Clark says, reminiscing over a recent late-morning Bud at the Goose. "That's a lot of bullshit. I borrowed $50,000 on my house. I wasn't running for the exercise. I thought I could win."

It was not a widely shared belief. Clark's campaign manager, Ben Padrow, viewed Bud's candidacy mainly as a protest. The early numbers looked dismal: A mid-March poll gave Ivancie a 35-point edge. Their only hope was to use Clark's longshot status to boost the odds.

"Ivancie took us as a joke," says Tim Hibbitts, Clark's pollster and campaign consultant. "We didn't want to give him reason to do anything otherwise."

Hibbitts and Padrow proceeded to pull off Portland's first stealth campaign. Padrow, whom Clark paid in packs of Tarreytons, would "confide" in City Commissioner Mildred Schwab, telling her what a shambles the campaign was in, knowing that the news would reach Ivancie.

"It was basically a sandbag job," says Hibbitts. In reality, the campaign had rounded up nearly 400 volunteers who blanketed the city for Bud.

Clark felt the tide turn in May, during the St. Johns parade. Ivancie, at the front of the pack, was greeted with boos. Clark, who followed later, drew cheers. "This was a blue-collar neighborhood," says Clark, "and blue-collar neighborhoods were supposed to belong to Frank."

Then The Oregonian confirmed Clark's hunch. A poll by the newspaper showed the race a dead heat.

Ivancie's campaign responded with a last-minute barrage of desperate radio ads and fliers, trashing Clark as a "joke" and questioning his religious beliefs. The tactic backfired. A few days later, on May 15, Clark was elected by a stunning 13-point margin.

The man no one had expected to be mayor would serve for eight years. He got off to a rough start, going through police chiefs and top aides like a barfly goes through Blitz. For a while he seemed more interested in yucking it up with Johnny Carson than minding the store. His folksy quips, so charming on the campaign trail, seemed out of place in City Hall, as when he consoled embattled Police Chief Penny Harrington with a jovial "Tits up!" after pushing her out the door in 1986. Or later that year, when he told Tom Brokaw, over beers at the Goose, that "Mildred Schwab could only have an orgasm at budget time."

And it wasn't just a struggle with style. His 12-point homeless plan, which had won national acclaim when it was unveiled in 1987, achieved only half its goals. And despite his weekly proclamation about "honoring diversity," Clark never connected with Portland's African-American residents. His 1989 remark about getting a "suntan" to improve that relationship was inexcusable.

In the end, however, the blustery bartender left behind a formidable legacy. He took the city's rainy-day fund, which Ivancie had drained, and built it up to $21 million. He was the chief cheerleader for the Convention Center. He introduced the concept of community policing to Portand and, in Tom Potter, finally picked a chief who was up to the job.

But Clark's biggest gift to the city is harder to document. By dethroning King Ivancie, he took a hokey campaign slogan, "The People's Mayor," and made it a reality.



  In the early '80s, the pop darling of Portland was Theater of Sheep, banner-bearer of the New Wave scene, fronted by a sardonic, reedy Rod Stewart-doppelgänger named Rozz Rezabek.

Before he split for San Francisco's allegedly greener pastures in 1984, Rezabek held Svengali-like sway over arty, downtown Waver kids. Drawn by his air of wan torment, Theater of Sheep fans would circle Rezabek's Northwest Portland apartment, call him at all hours of the night and, reportedly, occasionally faint when they saw him in the street.

Theater of Sheep began when Rezabek, who'd shattered plenty of late-'70s furniture singing for the trouble-seeking San Fran punks of Negative Trend, met guitarist Jimmy Haskett at an Echo and the Bunnymen concert in 1980. This auspicious encounter grew into four years of stylish (by the standards of the day) Wave riding, as TOS packed in the bright-eyed youth of Portland with its au courant synthy sound and opened for scene lords such as Dead Kennedys, Iggy Pop and Richard Hell.

"It was a weird crowd we'd draw," Rezabek recalls. "There'd be nine 14-year-old girls and the one gay guy from high school, plus maybe a few guys who pretended to be gay just to get girls. They were all virgins, they all smoked cloves and we couldn't touch any of them. They were good girls, y'know? They'd get a bottle of champagne and it'd take four of 'em to drink it.

"They were crazy for us, and there was no reason for it except for the fact that there was no one else in town playing that Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet, horrible, noxious music. There'd be 700 kids downstairs in Starry Night, and upstairs in the over-21 section there'd be three disgruntled friends of the bass player's wife. We'd play in bars and no one would come to see us, but if we played at a high school they'd have to call the police. We caused a riot at Wilson High School, and at Lincoln they made special rules for us. I couldn't unbutton more than the top button of my shirt. The keyboard player had to wear a 'conservative' bra. A conservative bra. Can you imagine?"

These days, the fortysomething Rezabek mostly hangs out with his son and flogs Lover Legend Liar, a buoyant, 70-minute opus of new songs. He plainly takes his Reagan-era rock with a huge grain of salt; still, he will, grudgingly, give his old band some credit. "You know, if you put something out that sucks, it's still going to suck in 20 years," he says. "If you're lucky, it'll suck in a cool way, and that's sort of what happened with Theater of Sheep."



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