WW presents "Distant Voices," a daily video interview for the era of social distancing. Our reporters are asking Portlanders what they're doing during quarantine.
Bill Walton is developing a passion for endorsing Portland-area bond measures to fight homelessness.
"I have lots of passions in my life," he said this afternoon. "I don't call them hobbies. I call them passions."
The basketball star-turned-garrulous announcer today joined his former team, the Portland Trail Blazers, in an unusual joint endorsement of Ballot Measure 26-210, a wealth tax and business profits tax that would send $250 million to homeless services in three metro-area counties.
It's Walton's second endorsement of a tax measure backed by the regional government Metro. In 2018, he cut ads to boost Measure 26-199, a $653 million bond for affordable housing. Then, as now, he was persuaded by retired Portland attorney Robert Stoll.
"Bob Stoll is my buddy," Walton said. "And so we talk all the time about everything."
Maybe Stoll has some luck getting a word in edgewise. When Walton called WW from his San Diego home to tout Measure 26-210, we mostly went along for the magic carpet ride with the 7-foot Deadhead. Backed by digital wallpaper showing America's national parks and accompanied by campaign strategist Angela Martin, Walton discussed practicing the piano, his pivot to nonprofit work during quarantine, and his plan to promote the measure by planting signs in the yard of every Portland house where he's lived.
And who's that calling in as a special guest halfway though? Why, it's Brian Grant, who played for the Blazers from 1997 to 2000 and is also endorsing the measure!
"The time for just giving a few pieces of change out of your car is over," Grant said. "We need to do something seriously as a community to come together and stop this homelessness."
Then the two of them talked about Maurice Lucas. You already know if this is something you want to listen to. We were giddy.