Pink Martini Bandleader Thomas Lauderdale Trashes Arts Tax, Mulls Running for Mayor

Every so often, Pink Martini bandleader Thomas Lauderdale talks about running for Portland mayor.

It's less common for him to describe the Portland Arts Tax as "a fucking disaster."

Lauderdale does both in a new interview in the magazine Artslandia, where he bashes the city's $35-a-person tax to fund arts teachers in schools and—with a little prompting from interviewer Stephen Marc Beaudoin—says he "would love to run the city."

He has few kind words for the current occupants of City Hall, including Mayor Charlie Hales.

Lauderdale, one of the most prominent figures in the city's gay and pop-music scenes, worked in City Hall in the 1990s for then-Mayor Bud Clark and then-City Commissioner Gretchen Kafoury. He was a vocal supporter of then-Mayor Sam Adams, particularly during the Beau Breedlove scandal.

He's declared his intention to run for mayor before—most famously to then-WW columnist Byron Beck in 2003. He named former Oregon Gov. Neil Goldschmidt as an inspiration—a year before revelations Goldschmidt had raped a teenager while Portland mayor.

In this week's Artslandia interview, Lauderdale cites Goldschmidt again.

"The thing about Neil Goldschmidt was," Lauderdale says, "he got people to be better than they were."