Readers Respond to Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt’s Performance

“There’s not a T-shirt big enough to hold all of these excuses. Even Jake Blues didn’t have this many excuses.”

Mike Schmidt’s first bid for Multnomah County district attorney was easy (he received 77% of the vote). The next election might be more difficult, judging by reader reaction to our interview with Schmidt (“Moving Target,” WW, Oct. 18). The county’s top prosecutor won office on a platform of criminal justice reform, and now seeks to convince the public that such a vision is compatible with holding criminals accountable. He says it’s going pretty well—in fact, he gives himself an A grade for the first three years in office. Here’s what our readers had to say:

Jerry, via wweek.com: “Like Voltaire’s Candide, Schmidt thinks he is doing the best of all possible jobs in the best possible city. Are you going to believe him or your own lying eyes?”

Mt Hood, via wweek.com: “There’s not a T-shirt big enough to hold all of these excuses. Even Jake Blues didn’t have this many excuses.

“If you want to reduce incarceration, you first have to have a plan to reduce crime. By eliminating mandatory minimums and eliminating accountability, small-time criminals have no deterrent to becoming big-time criminals. Just like with voluntary drug treatment, people who are currently making bad choices don’t magically or voluntarily start making better choices just because you pat them on the head and say, ‘It’s not your fault, it’s society’s fault.’

“Do we need reform? Of course. Is this it? Of course not. Reform requires crime prevention, not just crime forgiveness. “Schmidt is so anti-accountability that he won’t even take accountability for the Schmidt-show that he’s so clearly and obviously facilitated.”

@mattyjesq, via Twitter: “Softball questions, no follow-up, complete lack of prep. Great job on giving him a pulpit to self-aggrandize from.”

oregoner, via wweek.com: “Right now he’s probably the favorite scapegoat of the conservatives in the comment section. At least since Jo Ann Hardesty lost her City Council election.

“But what happened after Jo Ann got voted out? Did that make anyone happy? Is anyone talking about how much better things are with Rene Gonzalez? Or did it just shift the Overton window to cause people to complain about a new liberal while the government becomes more conservative?

“So reelect him so conservatives can continue to complain. Or vote for someone new and come up with a new scapegoat. Either way, it doesn’t matter. The change that needs to happen is with us, not with the government.”

Aestro17, via Reddit: “It can be true both that he gets more blame than he deserves AND that he’s bad at his job.

“He took office with it already understaffed early in COVID with protests close to their peak. Courts were at a crawl and jail space severely limited. He can’t force the state to hire more defenders, or the Portland Police Bureau to hire more officers or gather more evidence, or 911 to answer calls more quickly. It’s a tough job for anyone.

“But his office looks to be in disarray too. Complaints from multiple employees, including one running against him. Meanwhile he’s pointing fingers at everyone else and giving himself an A.”

LeftOnBurnside, via Reddit: “Imagine how much worse things would be if we only had an average-grade Mike Schmidt.”

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