In his second State of the City address
last week, Mayor Sam Adams introduced two "Joe the Plumber"-style Portlanders as real-life examples to weave residents' needs for jobs, education and transportation into a tale of where the mayor hopes to steer the city.
Using real people is a common device for politicians and journalists to highlight points they are trying to make. Think back, for example, to 2008 when U.S. Sens. John McCain (R-Arizona) and Barack Obama trotted out "Joe the Plumber" as a metaphor for the American everyman. Joe was a real person and when reporters checked him out, his personal background turned
out to differ from his metaphorical representation.
Fast forward now to Feb. 5 when Adams, at his State of the City address
, rolled out two figures of his own: "Jean," a woman facing foreclosure whom he said he met while riding the MAX ; and "Mike," whom Adams said came to the door of Adams' home selling tamales.
reporter Beth Slovic and I attended the speech and we thought it would be interesting to learn more about Portland's version of "Joe and Josephine the Plumber."
Here's what we've learned so far from Adams spokesman Roy Kaufmann, and how you could help us learn more:
From: Beth Slovic [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Friday, February 05, 2010 5:34 PM
To: Kaufmann, Roy
Subject: Info Request
Thanks for sending the text of the speech along. Very helpful.
I'd like to request the full names and contact info for Jean and Mike.
From: "Kaufmann, Roy"
Date: February 8, 2010 11:23:16 AM PST
To: "Slovic, Beth"
Subject: RE: Info Request
Mike and Jean are just two of the countless Portlanders who approached Mayor Adams to share their stories. When he meets someone, often he asks how the City could be of help. Generally, Mayor Adams doesn't ask them for their last name or contact info.
Office of Mayor Sam Adams
From: Nigel Jaquiss [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Monday, February 08, 2010 5:19 PM
To: Kaufmann, Roy
Subject: Jean and Mike
Beth shared your response with me.
Just to be absolutely clear:
Mayor Adams talked about Mike and Jean with a level of specificity that piqued my interest.
1. Are you saying that Mike is a real person but Mayor Adams does not know his last name and Jean is a real person but Mayor Adams does not know her last name?
2. Or are Mike and Jean composite characters based on conversations Mayor Adams has had?
3. Can you provide any other information about the dates he met them or other identifying information?
From: Kaufmann, Roy
To: 'Nigel Jaquiss'
Date: 02/09/2010 05:07 PM
Subject: RE: Jean and Mike
As I sought to articulate yesterday, Mayor Adams interacts with countless Portlanders in a given year. The extent to which they share their personal story dictates the level of detail we have. Hope that helps.
So if you are "Jean" or "Mike" or know who they are, please contact us.
If you can help us find them, lunch for two is on us at Justa Pasta, an excellent neighborhood spot at NW 19th and Pettygrove.