Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Department of Peace

The Portland City Council voted unanimously today to endorse a federal Department of Peace with a cabinet level leader.

The last time i sat in the City Council chamber it was shortly before the launch of the Iraq war. Commissioner Erik Sten had introduced a resolution in opposition to the policy of "preemptive" war. His was an obvious yes vote. Following this, Commissioner Randy Leonard spoke; first in favor of the resolution but he ended up voting 'no' having not yet heard enough on the topic. I was so angry it wasn't until recently i could even listen to the guy. Of late, i've been thinking of volunteering for him. Commissioner Jim Francesconi, who was already contemplating a mayoral run, put his finger in the air and told the packed chamber that while he was personally opposed to the imminent invasion, he didn't feel it was the Council's place to pass such resolution. He's no longer in City government and this argument wasn't brought up this time around. Outgoing Mayor Vera Katz who was born in Germany in 1933 spoke sagely regarding war and peace and voted in favor. Commissioner Dan Salzman was not present.

The resolution was 2-2. It did not pass. After three hours of near unanimous testimony in favor. I didn't speak out back then, and i was left speechless. And so i was thankful today that Commissioner Salzman brought forth this resolution.

There's the old cliché that the best defense is a good offense. But after spending a half Trillion dollars so far in Iraq and with Congress passing one of the largest Pentagon budgets since the end of the Cold War, a Department of Peace makes sheer economic sense. Portlanders would be better served by investing in peace at home and programs that foster non-violence as opposed to outsourcing conflicts abroad.

After today's roll call vote, 5-0, there was a standing ovation. I was proud. Then i bussed up to the VA hospital to visit my dad.

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