Making rounds, Wheeler's on a roll

If the huge crowd of politicos and school, community and business leaders came to any conclusion at the Portland Schools Foundation Roast Festival other than the fact that retiring Executive Director Cynthia Guyer is a goddess, it was this: Multnomah County Chairman Ted Wheeler is actually funny!

Loving every minute of the spotlight, Wheeler - one of the political 'hacks' who traded barbs with media 'flacks' at the 12th annual event Thursday evening - at first warned the audience that he wasn't funny and unfortunately didn't have funny staff members, either.

Then he launched into a self-deprecating bit that riffed off his reputation as the '$80 million man,' since he is heir to a large timber fortune.

He also thanked the public for its 'many, many suggestions on what to do with Wapato jail, but could you please stop suggesting that we sell it to the McMenamins?' he said. 'We already sold them a jail.'

Wheeler showed class, too, when he didn't laugh at jokes about his predecessor, Diane Linn.

Another frequent target at the event was Republican Sen. Gordon Smith, who was called by Oregonian cartoonist Jack Ohman the 'Britney Spears of the Iraq war' for his recent unexpected comments on sending troops to Iraq.

Ohman said. 'If he shows up with his head shaved, you know there's a big vote coming up.'

The event - which pulled in $300,000 for the schools foundation - featured previews of two possible political campaigns.

The first happened when moderator Kerry Tymchuk, Smith's state director, introduced Democratic Rep. Earl Blumenauer. Saying that Blumenauer was under pressure to run against his boss, Tymchuk offered two introductions for Blumenauer.

If Blumenauer does not run against Smith, Tymchuk said, the Portland-area congressman should be considered a 'visionary' leader. And if he does run against Smith, Tymchuk said, Blumenauer is 'a hopelessly liberal wonk' who has spent his life 'feeding at the public trough.'

The second preview was between state Rep. Greg Walden, a Republican, and state Sen. Betsy Johnson, a Democrat, both of whom are reportedly thinking of running for Oregon governor in 2010.

Walden, who represents Eastern Oregon, acknowledged the possibility by saying, 'Betsy might just be crazy enough to run for governor someday, and we need to talk about that.'

All talk, and glad of it

Now it can be told. After undergoing surgery for sleep apnea, city Commissioner Sam Adams was unexpectedly hospitalized again - for breaking his own jaw.

Adams claims the cause of the break is still unclear, but at least one wag believes it was because the hard-charging commissioner started talking before his doctors told him he could do so safely.

Whatever the case, Adams is talking freely again and says he is fine.

- Tribune staff

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