My beloved colleague Dave Mazza has entered hospice care after a long illness, and I wanted to take a few lines to talk about how he helped change the course of Portland history.
As so often happens in my town, we had just hired a new police chief -- this one was named Mark Kroeker. As the chief was introduced to the city his strengths were trumpeted to the skies, like they always are.
But in a funky little Southeast office, Dave had become the editor of the Portland Alliance newspaper, a monthly founded by a coalition of grassroots activist groups in the 1970s to cover social issues because the mainstream media did not (media nerds: this was straight up solutions journalism before there was a name for it. Full disclosure: I too was an editor of the Portland Alliance newspaper. Frankly, a lot of what we did was critiquing the movement, and it would be useful today if it were still around.).
The year was 1999, so Dave picked up that newfangled thing called the Internet and just googled the heck out of Mark Kroeker (“google” was not a term at the time). Dave found bizarre audio recordings of Kroeker talking about parenting and saying some unacceptable things. The Los Angeles Times wrote about it, along with context on the other two “strikes” against Kroeker and more. He was forced out within two and a half years and immediately took a job leading “peacekeepers” in Liberia.
This short era was a turning point in law enforcement history for our town, because Kroeker essentially militarized the Portland police. It was under him that the “robocop”-style of riot police was created that plagues the city today. Dave covered it like a blanket.
Dave also went on to challenge the city’s electoral system, to paint gorgeous landscapes and to co-host “Voices from the Edge” Talk Radio with JoAnn Hardesty on KBOO Community Radio for many years. I want to thank Dave Mazza for his contribution to our city and encourage others to step up and use the tools of journalism to make our world a better place.