Speech drafts show Mayor Becker edited out mention of Bemis
In state of city address, he deleted Bemis' contributions on road issue
Drafts of Mayor Charles Becker's controversial State of the City Address prove the speech was politically motivated, says his opponent.
Becker removed Council President Shane Bemis, who is running against Becker for the mayor's seat, from the speech written by city spokeswoman Laura Bridges-Shepard.
According to the speech's 10 drafts, obtained by The Outlook through a public records request, Bridges-Shepard singled out Bemis and Government Relations Manager Ron Papsdorf for their parts in gaining control of local roads previously controlled by Multnomah County.
Becker, however, removed Bemis' name and added former councilors David Shields and Larry Haverkamp, who also passionately fought for local road control.
Ultimately, Becker removed them too, instead opting to collectively thank both current and previous councils.
Bemis and other councilors in August voiced dismay that the speech, designed to be an annual recap of city accomplishments, was scheduled so close to the Nov. 7 general election. They worried Becker would use the speech to further his campaign for a third four-year term as mayor.
When asked why he omitted Bemis, Becker downplayed the role Bemis had with the state Legislature on the roads issue.
'There was nothing exceptional on Shane's part from what I know that really influenced the decision,' Becker said. 'I think that bodily his presence down there maybe helped reinforce what I had done previously down there.'
Given the controversial nature of the speech, Becker could have left in the reference to Bemis' contributions to avoid any appearance that the speech was politically driven.
Becker chose not to because, 'If I was going do that, I would put my name, myself in there.' But that would have made the speech political, which in Becker's opinion, it was not.
Bemis doesn't buy it.
'I'm so over it,' Bemis said. 'It is what it is. But if it weren't a political speech, he would have left the credit in. He had nothing but good things to say while I was down there carrying water for it. Now he omitted it for political gain.'
But Bemis shouldn't feel too overlooked.
It was only at the urging of Bridges-Shepard that Becker added a thank-you to his wife of 45 years, Elaine, to the last draft on Tuesday, Oct. 3, the day of the speech.