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April 21st, 2010 BETH SLOVIC | Q & A
 

Tim Boyle

The money man behind the Adams recall says “I don’t have a vendetta against the mayor.”

     
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BOYLE-ING POINT: Columbia Sportswear’s Tim Boyle brought heat (in the form of cash) to the second failed recall campaign.
IMAGE: Roger Bong

The second campaign to recall Mayor Sam Adams announced Tuesday it failed to gather enough signatures to force an election.

Former state Sen. Avel Gordly served as that campaign’s public face. But Tim Boyle, the 60-year-old president and CEO of Columbia Sportswear, was its money man—an unassuming, khaki-clad character behind the curtain who infused enough money to keep the campaign on life support since January.

Boyle sat out the first recall campaign. But he rained $17,500 on the second, giving about one third of the $51,000 collected by the recall’s political action committee.

Some have suggested Boyle nurses a grudge against Adams that predates the mayor’s lies during his 2008 campaign. Columbia Sportswear infamously moved its headquarters from Portland to unincorporated Washington County, when Vera Katz was mayor and Adams was her chief of staff. In 2007, when Adams was a city commissioner, he tried and failed to lure Columbia back. Symbolically and financially, Portland is worse off because of that loss, although the company maintains a distribution center and two stores within the city’s limits.

WW spoke with Boyle, a Portland resident, on Monday at his office. Even before the signature-gathering results were in, Boyle seemed to be bracing for disappointment.

WW: Why did you support the recall?

Tim Boyle: I don’t have a vendetta against the mayor. I think, frankly, the question should be called and people should have the opportunity to voice their opinion.

But some people say you have an ax to grind with Adams. Is that the case?

The issues around our not being headquartered in the city of Portland were really at Sam’s doing, and there’ve been lots of articles written about that. But he’s been very contrite. He’s met with me several times since then. He admitted that he’d made mistakes. So I’ll take him at his word.

What was your role in the recall campaign?

I’m a financial supporter, and a personal supporter.

Can you describe your fundraising calls?

I made a few phone calls to other people I thought might be interested in supporting the campaign. Some were. Some weren’t.

What reasons did the “no” side give?

The current mayor is very helpful to them, or supportive of whatever their particular issues are.

They didn’t want to subject themselves to the wrath of the mayor if they were financially supporting the recall effort.

Did their self-interest disappoint you?

I can understand somebody from a business standpoint having to not get involved. It was disappointing, yes.

What kind of advice did you offer the campaign?

They appealed to me to put more time and more capital into the campaign than I did.

So what did you tell them?

You probably need somebody who can carry the ball here, and it’s not going to be me.

Was it worth it?

If the recall was successful in gathering the signatures, then I’ll say it’s worth it. If it wasn’t, it probably was time ill-spent and cash ill-spent.

Let’s say it does fail. Could you guess why?

The mayor’s announcement of his lying and the ability to start a recall campaign was timed such that the urgency of the story was really lost.

Won’t the failure make the mayor appear stronger than ever?

Probably.

And is that a good thing?

I think it’s detrimental to the state of Oregon when the largest city is led by someone who many politicians don’t want to have their photo taken with.

Any evidence that consumers are boycotting Columbia?

[Smiles] Let me put it this way. I’ve gotten enough emails from people who’ve said they’re never going to buy something from our company again. That may be the case. That’s fine.

Say one nice thing about Adams.

He’s got an incredible work ethic.

Is that enough to be the mayor of Oregon’s biggest city?

No.

 
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