It's time for Tootie to go
It was in the third hour of waiting in my car in the covid testing line with my four year old that I learned Clackamas County Chair-Elect Tootie Smith had it in for me. The last few days weren't so hot to begin with. My wife manages procedure scheduling for one of the big hospitals in town and has been working twelve to eighteen hour days shifting surgical staffing and cases to accommodate the covid surge. A few days ago there were 15 available, staffed ICU beds in the Portland Metro region. Now there are fewer.
Then on Thursday one of the teachers at our son's preschool started showing symptoms and one of their family members tested positive. The preschool follows the rules, and everyone was wearing masks and washing hands (so much as a gaggle of 3 and 4 year olds can anyway) so we're probably in the clear. But now the school is closed for a bit, and our 4 year old — and all of the rest of us — are quarantining. I'm sitting in the car listening to Harry Potter waiting for a COVID test for the little one.
We'd driven into the gloomy parking structure of the convention center and a friendly nurse carrying a clip board and dressed like an astronaut informed us that the wait would be another two hours at least. Then a friend texted me a link to Tootie Smith's Facebook Page:
"Why?" I thought, "Why is our Chair Elect trying to get people sick? Haven't I suffered enough in this subterranean automotive hellpit, stuck with a gabby four-year-old who wants to tell me for the fifteenth time about the ninja move he saw on Power Rangers?" "Why," I ask myself, "does Tootie want me shut up in the house with three kids all winter with an overworked spouse and three kids?" Hours in the COVID testing line breeds self pity.
I had to get to the bottom of Tootie Smith's vendetta. Surely asking the right questions could lead to the real answer.
Is Chair-Elect Smith stupid? Plenty of the left-leaning commenters on Facebook seem to think Tootie is an imbecile, so fried on hydroxychloroquine poppers and bleach injections that she just doesn't know any better, bless her heart.
But no, Chair-Elect Smith is savvy; a public servant with over eight years of elected office under her belt in Salem and Clackamas. She put this experience to use on her campaign website, which has a big section on COVID where she says "minimizing the spread of the disease through isolation, hand washing, covering coughs and sneezes is also integral. Personal responsibility in all areas is key."
Chair-Elect Smith is not stupid.
Perhaps, like some Ghost of Thanksgiving Present, Chair-Elect Smith is so taken with the spirit of Thanksgiving and hospitality that she cannot bring herself to join the rest of us on Zoom and must be physically surrounded by all her friends and relatives. But any good host can tell you though that sending your guests home with a deadly illness isn't good manners. Since we already know she's no fool when it comes to COVID, aggressive hospitality can't be the underlying motivation for her plague feast.
Which leaves us with one conclusion: she knows what she is doing and doesn't care. "I don't have high blood pressure," Smith said in a recent interview. "I'm not overweight. I'm not diabetic. I don't have cancer." Tootie Smith knows that her bustling Thanksgiving dinner, and those she's encouraging to gather with friends and family in Clackamas with her messages, will lead to more COVID cases in our community. But she's not worried because she's healthy. She's right, she'd probably be just fine if she contracted COVID.
But she doesn't care about the rest of us. She doesn't care how her actions and her example will lead to more cases in our community.
I don't know what I did to Tootie to make her want to make my life harder, but I really don't matter in the grand scheme of things. She's sticking it to a lot more important people than me. Chair-Elect Tootie Smith has it in for nurses who are working themselves to the bone to keep people alive. She doesn't care about the small businesses who are facing another shutdown because of case spikes and hospital overcrowding. She's spitting at Clackamas teachers and families who want to get kids back in classrooms.
She's got it in for every Clackamas County voter with an underlying health condition who might not survive the virus if they get it, or who might miss vital procedures because their hospital is too overrun to care for them. She's sticking her thumb in the eye of every good Clackamas County voter who, regardless of party affiliation, expects their elected officials to at least attempt to govern in good faith. She's insulting all of us who want our communities to reopen, and know that the key to doing that is getting this virus under control.
If Chair-Elect Smith were a good leader we could expect a retraction and an apology. If she were a good person we might expect her to resign in favor of someone less reckless. But she won't do either. That's why, as soon as she is sworn in next year, the people of Clackamas County need to start collecting signatures to recall Tootie Smith.
Peter Lund is a resident of Clackamas County and a partner at a small business on Main Street in Oregon City.
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