Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Is the City of Portland a BEER BULLY?

Old Town Brewing's Leaping Stag
logo on a delicious IPA.
Let's get one thing out of the way right off the bat, I am NOT a fan of Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler. Hey, I voted for the guy, but it seems like he's been trying his damnedest to make me regret checking that checkbox since the day he took office. In my opinion, Wheeler has provided zero effective leadership AND he has proven time and time again that he is woefully out of touch with his constituents. 

I could go on and on about how Wheeler has fouled things up by choosing the wrong side during the alt-right protests this year, (Psst, Ted, Nazis are bad and you should tell them to stay the f**k out of Portland.) but recently, Wheeler has gotten into my own personal wheelhouse by trying to screw over a Portland craft beer mainstay, Old Town Brewing.

OH, NO, HE DIDN'T! Yeah, he did. WTF, Wheeler? Don't you know that craft beer helped make the City of Portland the tourist destination that it is today? Do you not understand what side your proverbial bread is buttered on? Do you really want to be One Term Ted?

I first read about the dirty dealing that the City of Portland is doing to Old Town in an article posted by Jeff Alworth in his Beervana blog. Read all about it HERE. In a nutshell, Old Town has owned the trademark rights to Portland's Leaping Stag logo for the past five years. I talked to Old Town's owner Adam Milne today and he told me that he has been engaged in a legal battle over the logo with the City of Portland for the past two years. Yes, that predates Mayor Wheeler's tenure in office, but it certainly appears he has no intention of reversing the ridiculous course the city is taking on this issue.

Milne advises that he only wants to maintain the exclusivity of the Leaping Stag logo for beer and other alcoholic drinks. The City of Portland wants total control of the logo to sell it to the highest bidder--now hold on to your hats, Portland craft beer peeps--including BUDWEISER! I ask you, is Portland, Oregon a BUD TOWN? Nope, nope, nopiti-nope! The last thing I want to see is the Leaping Stag affixed to a bottle of Bud Light. We're talking Oregon beer SACRILEGE! I'm pretty sure Mayor Wheeler and his toadies downtown have no idea how offensive that would be. I'm also sure they sip on $500 bottles of wine up in some Penthouse eatery, as they look down at the unwashed, beer drinking masses.

This really is a case of bureaucratic bullying of the worst kind. The City of Portland intends to win a war of attrition, even though they have lost every legal challenge on the issue thus far. They simply plan to fight until Old Town Brewing can no longer afford to defend itself. 

I'm taking this personally because the folks at Old Town Brewing are NICE. I consider them to be my neighbors--because they are. The Old Town location is minutes away from my Lloyd District office by MAX and I eat lunch there all the time. The MLK location is a short bus ride from my Alberta Street home address. This isn't a nameless, faceless, giant corporation that doesn't give a crap about our town. They are good people who greet me warmly when I walk through the door. The money I spend at Old Town goes right back into OUR community. That means something to me. I think it should mean something to you, too. Sadly, it doesn't seem to matter one iota to the fat cats at City Hall.

I called the Mayor's "Opinion Line" today and left a message detailing my displeasure with the city's bullying of one of our upstanding craft breweries. I would implore you to do the same. The number is 503-823-4127. Let Wheeler know that the city's position on this issue will not stand and could very well result in some changes in leadership next term.

That Leaping Stag logo doesn't belong on any beer except one brewed by Old Town. I'm not sure how much money the City of Portland believes it can scoop into the coffers by effectively stealing the logo for their slimy exclusive branding scheme, but that's absolutely not the Portland way. Perhaps a few protest parties in front of Ted's house are in order? I think I know where we could get a few kegs...

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