Rumors are swirling around Portland tonight that Mayor Tom Potter has been rushed to a hospital in Southern California for emergency treatment of a severe injury he suffered earlier in the week. The official word from City Hall is "no comment," but sources say that the 65-year-old mayor is resting comfortably and taking pain medication for a serious lower abdominal ailment that is believed to be a torn muscle aggravated by a groin pull.
According to eyewitnesses, Potter injured himself in a prolonged fit of hysterical laughter on Wednesday, when he learned that Portland Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen was sending a representative to request a taxpayer bailout of the struggling NBA team. "I've never seen anything like it," said one person who was present when the phone call came in from officers of Allen's corporation, Vulcan, Inc. "Right after the Chief hung up, there was this long howl coming out of his office. It was like that Vincent Price laugh from 'Thriller,' but it went on for like two minutes. Then it died down to this steady, slight whimpering, and that kept up for what seemed like an eternity."
Startled aides sensed that something was wrong and entered Potter's office to check on him. When they saw him lying under his desk, in convulsions and with tears rolling down his cheeks, they pressed the emergency call button that summons Commissioner Randy Leonard to the scene of any security breaches in the building. "Grampy kept saying, 'I'm o.k., I'm o.k.,' but you could tell he was delirious," the source recalled. "Finally he sat up and looked around, and started laughing all over again, and coughing. Then he quieted down, and it was obvious he had hurt something."
Although the mayor apparently recovered well enough to meet with Blazers president Steve Patterson on Friday morning, by midday he had cancelled the rest of his appointments for the week. "After Patterson left, the Chief had another fit-like episode, and this time he really reinjured it," said a staff member who requested anonymity. "We drove him home after lunch, and he just kept moaning, 'I can't believe this job. I can't believe this job.'"
Saturday morning, Potter was flown to a clinic in Lake Arrowhead, California, for a diagnosis. He was seen by the same physicians who are treating figure skating champion Michelle Kwan, who suffered a similar injury before withdrawing from the Olympics in Italy. "It's a pretty nasty tear," said a source. "They checked him into a nearby hospital just to play it safe." Potter and Kwan met briefly at the clinic, where they arranged to spend time together on their upcoming goodwill ambassador missions to Outer Mongolia.
Potter's private jet flight to the California medical facility was reportedly delayed by two hours for a last-minute meeting with Commissioner Erik Sten. "Erik came out to the airport to talk with Potter about having the city buy the Blazers," one witness recounted. "You know the mayor, always being nice to people. It took him the better part of an hour to talk the kid down."
It was the second clandestine trip to the hospital for Potter in a little more than a month. On Jan. 19, he was treated at Providence Good Samaritan Hospital for a flesh wound to the hand suffered at a lunch at the London Grill at the Benson Hotel. Accounts of the incident vary, but one waitperson at the swank restaurant told reporters that the mayor was stabbed with a fork in an altercation with "a white-bearded guy who came in on one of them Segway deals."
(Note: Time stamps on comments for this post were changed in a server migration.)