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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on September 27, 2011 10:44 AM. The previous post in this blog was Reader poll: Who will win Portland mayoral election?. The next post in this blog is Pete Seda's summer vacation ends. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.



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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Smith blew off court dates for speeding

We're no expert on criminal law, or motor vehicle violations, but a reader who is, has taken an interest in Portland mayoral candidate's Jefferson Smith bad driving record. The reader has done a little rooting around downtown and come up with more details on that aspect of Smith's personal problems.

One thing we've been wondering about since we discovered that Smith had been convicted of driving while his license was suspended, was how the license got suspended to begin with. Apparently, it was because Smith failed to write in, or show up in court, to either plead guilty or defend himself on one or more moving violations for which he was ticketed.

Here's one case, in which he was doing 52 in a 35 mile-an-hour zone, in a silver Volvo, apparently just after midnight one night in July 2002, at which time he was a lawyer in the largest law firm in town. The disposition of the case is "FTA," which we're told means failure to appear.

Here's another one, from spring of 2004. This time he's driving a brown Jaguar X16 with expired tags at 20 to 2 in the morning. He gets pulled over, admits that he's driving on a suspended license, gets ticketed, and then again, the disposition of the case is failure to appear. (The Jaguar was towed.)

It's interesting to compare the court record on that particular incident with the version of it that Smith told O reporter Beth Slovic:

But Smith did once get pulled over for having expired tags, he said, and after he forgot to pay the fine, he had his license suspended. "It's embarrassing, and I take full responsibility," Smith said.

Was he telling her the whole truth and nothing but the truth? It seems as though he gave it to her just a wee bit out of sequence.

Here's another failure to appear, on a radar speeding ticket charging him with going 40 in a 25-mile-an-hour zone on Halsey in a mid-afternoon in January of 2009. That was in a 2000 Acura.

There's only one case that the reader could find in which Smith contested the charges against him -- an illegal lane change in a highway work zone on McLoughlin Boulevard, driving the Acura in March 2009. Smith's 74-year-old father, an attorney and a retired district attorney, appeared on his behalf and asked for a trial. That went nowhere, and the younger Smith was convicted.

Is it standard procedure for folks to just blow off speeding tickets -- not pay them and not show up for court? Can't that sort of behavior get you arrested?

And is that what you have your dad doing in his old age?

Comments (27)

The privileged get away with a lot. Yesterday, I witnessed a Jesuit H.S. boy roll a red light to make a right on red. He never fully stopped and never looked and he clipped (sent flying) a pedestrian legally in the cross walk.

I called 911 to get cops and ambulance. Once the ambulance was within earshot I split for work as others were on site and with the victim. 911 took my contact info.

And I gave it to the victim.

Meanwhile some Jesuit dad was mouthing off to me while I was talking to 911 that I should go easy on the kid as he is only a high school student. All the more reason to ensure he gets a time out. But I just kept my mouth shut.

Well, 911 dispatch said that I would be contacted by cops for statement (they got my cell number). But oddly enough I was never contacted by the Beaverton police or the prosecuting attorney. And trust me that kid broke several laws.

Of course, being cited by Officer Hoesly comes with a certain amount of distinction...

Ah yes, the 103rd and Halsey photo radar trap. (You come off the freeway and the speed limit comes down to 35 followed quickly by a drop to 25.) Most people don't go 25 through there. I wish they would either have the photo radar van there more often or raise the speed limit to 35. (Like it is on Weidler going West one block over.) I can only assume it is 25 there because of the arcade there, and they are worried about the kids.

To come back to subject, I can't imagine that FTA is the norm for dealing with violations. If it is then there are a lot of people driving with suspended licenses.

We have a mayor with similar habits now. Why would we want another one?

From this record, can we infer then that the subject in question a) considers himself above the law, and b) based on his statement to the O, is a liar when he gets caught?

Given the above, doesn't that possibly make him a perfect candidate to follow in the footsteps of our current leader as mayor of Portland?

It really pisses me off that Smith whipped out the ADHD card as yet another excuse as to why he doesn't attend to "details" like traffic fines and his organization's finances. As an adult who was diagnosed with ADHD about 10 years back, I know full well the issues affecting those of us with the disorder.

However, I AM an adult and also know that I am still ultimately responsible for all those difficult little details and must take some extra steps to deal with my disfunction in those areas. Self-discipline is the key and it sounds like he is sorely lacking there.

As a fellow sufferer of ADHD, I want "Jeff" to stop making us all look like irresponsible nitwits who use their affliction as an excuse. Grow up already.

He's probably also really ticked off at Portland's completely ridiculous and unfettered proliferation of speed traps.

None of his behavior strikes me as terrible or immoral. However, when you KNOW appearances DO count when you ask people for their vote, and this consideration does not give you sufficient pause before deciding to run, and it does not in fact lead you to conclude that your appearance of being a scofflaw jerk disqualifies you, then perhaps you have an arrogance problem. Or a judgment problem.

I would be the first to gnash my teeth about the speeding-ticket racket around Portland; but I have always paid any speed trap citations and mailed them off with my no-contest plea the day I get them, just to forget about them as quickly as possible. And if I ever considered running for any sort of office, it would be on a platform to get rid of speed traps.

Wasn't he a practicing lawyer at the time? Like, he was a professional involved with the legal system? He was smart to give some sort of reason other than personal ethics why he was in contempt of a system he made a living at...

He must have paid a pretty-penny to the insurance companies as well. For his background, education, and ambitions this is a remarkable episode of events, not just a one time slip up but a pattern of questionable behavior.

I can't wait until someone reveals the conditions under which Sir Jefferson ... ahem ... "separated" from Stoel Rives ...

Jefferson Smith is ADHD? And people actually think he's the guy to be the next mayor.

Granted, after Sam Adams it would be difficult to not get someone better into office, but is this the best we can do?

If he would have been on a bike, or the BUS, this would never have happened...

Sounds like Smith needs to go by train .... on a long ride to another part of the US and not come back.

He may have wanted to use this campaign as a stepping stone to head towards Washington DC as the movie "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington."
He may need to skip this one and head back for something else if that was his planned destination.
Question is, now will the insiders do?

Like many here, I look at the ADHD argument with suspicion.

Maybe he did happen to forget to appear the first time. The second time? No way - he had is car towed and would have had to retrieve it. That's not easily forgotten.

And failure to appear doesn't mean failure to pay the fines. On top of getting the car back, he would have had to remember the fines that time around.

Unless daddy-O paid his debts as well as make his appearances that time.

Dudleyesque . . . Dudleyesque. I can't get over all those different high-end cars over a relative short period of time. Doesn't sound like he has much in common with the unwashed multitudes.

Smith just needs to quit the mayors race and go away, maybe move back east or something. We already have a mayor with problems like Smith's, we don't need another.

I can't get over all those different high-end cars

How can you tell "a silver Volvo" is a high end car?

A nine-year old Acura averages about $6000 on Craigslist (unless it's an NSX).

Not sure what a Jaguar "X16" is, but it could be an XJ6, which averages about $3500 on Craiglist these days.

I'm not saying Smith's pattern of behavior is not worthy of examination and concern, but I don't think these automobiles are exactly Dudleyesque.

Re: "...unwashed multitudes."

NW Portlander,

Given the price of water and sewerage, our numbers are growing;
yet no candidate for mayor or Council has suggested any interest in relieving the personal and social burdens of the extortionate levies for these basic needs. Mr Smith appears among the least likely to attempt reform of the bureaus.

His Daddy went to court with him? I am getting to a point where I'd vote for a raving tea partyesque social conservative just to get weekly garbage pick up back.

I'm not saying Smith's pattern of behavior is not worthy of examination and concern, but I don't think these automobiles are exactly Dudleyesque.

Especially considering that most XJ6's are clapped-out wrecks in this climate. They quit making them in 1987.

Rarely enforced: 153.992 Penalty for failure to appear. (1) A person commits the offense of failure to appear in a violation proceeding if the person has been served with a violation citation issued under this chapter and the person knowingly fails to do any of the following:

(a) Make a first appearance in the manner required by ORS 153.061 within the time allowed.

(b) Make appearance at the time set for trial in the violation proceeding.

(c) Appear at any other time required by the court or by law.

(2) Failure to appear on a violation citation is a Class A misdemeanor. [1999 c.1051 §29]

In Stumptown, only the Little People worry about violating the law or city codes. The Players do what they want.

Can we also mention that Smith's dad was Dem Party chair and that his mom is current Dem Party chair? Oh, and his dad worked for Rep Smith in Salem last session. Scary to think that this clown COULD be in charge of a +$2 BILLION PDX city budget.

Dudleyesque Jaguar X16 is a high performance sports car costing over $75,000 with terrible gas mileage. Maybe the police officer filling out the paper work was just dreaming about this car and it really was a XJ6, a typo error. But the XJ6 isn't much less nor much better in gas mileage.

Now, how is a notorious bike advocate, mass transit guru, conservationist, wheaty grain promoter going to rectify running around in a Jag? He certainly isn't buying locally is he?

I am surprised this clown doesn't still live in one of his parental unit's basements or attics. But of course he doesn't have to as long as those 501 c 3 and 4 dollars keep rollin' in.
ADHD indeed! Pul-eeze!

LucsAdvo: Probably not the the same Jesuit kid who rear-ended me on 39th in 2006 (he's graduated). The kid had no license. His lawyer dad is a managing partner at Ater Wynne. Dad hustled to the scene, the kid left to hang in Laurelhurst Park. . . . the cops came, told me I had to report the accident. Dad called me at home the next day, told me the cop had told HIM after I left that I really didn't have to report the accident, and pleaded with me to go easy on his kid. I told him the kid should be held accountable and damn well shouldn't get his license until he was 18 (or whatever the consequences would be).

Then I called the precinct. They said that NOT reporting would be against the law, and that I had better send in the accident report. I think the lawyer was completely lying to me, trying to convince me to ignore the law and not file the report. I still wish I had filed a bar complaint.

LW: The Jaguar C-X16 is indeed an expensive concept car that was introduced to the world in September 2011. However, it would have been quite a stunt for Smith to have been driving this car when he was pulled over in 2004.


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