Before we jump all over Portland Mayor Ethan Strimling for his preposterous suggestion that he might deserve more pay and a company car, let’s think for a minute.

He must have had a very good reason.

Strimling can’t really believe that he deserves a raise based on his performance so far: He must know that the big debate around town is whether Portland needs a different person to be mayor or if it would be better to eliminate the position entirely, burn what’s left behind and plow the ground with salt so that nothing ever grows there again.

He must understand that it’s bad politics for an elected official to ask for more money for himself at a time when he is asking members of the public to give more of their income over to the city to fund expensive but necessary projects, as he is doing with a $64 million school construction bond that would raise everyone’s property taxes.

He can’t be acting out of jealousy of Jon Jennings, the city manager, who not only makes more money than the mayor but also has more authority at City Hall. A public servant like the mayor wouldn’t be looking for the taxpayers to fund petty perks and status symbols to make up for his feelings of inferiority.

No, none of that makes sense. For someone as smart as the mayor to pull a stunt like this, he must have had a pretty good reason. For instance, has anyone considered these possibilities?

Maybe he doesn’t want to be mayor any more. Maybe the job is a lot harder than it looked when Michael Brennan was screwing up Robert’s Rules of Order and trying to get people excited about “health informatics.”

Maybe Strimling is looking for a graceful exit from City Hall, where he can say, “I love being your mayor, but I must earn more than $71,000 a year so that I can prepare for what may be a very long retirement from politics.”

 Maybe this is a ploy to make his enemies overconfident. Now that he has associated himself so strongly with the four-elementary-school renovations option on the November ballot, he’s acting incompetent so the bond issue’s opponents will think they can relax because this one’s in the can.

 Maybe he never even asked that he be considered for a raise – maybe that was done by Russian hackers. And maybe he can’t reveal that now because he’s working with the intelligence agencies to get the real culprits to expose themselves. When the bad guys get caught, the mayor may get a medal, and won’t all his critics feel stupid.

There are a lot of much more plausible explanations for Strimling’s request to have his pay reviewed than the one everyone has jumped to: That the city’s political leader lacks political sense.

If that were the case, as crazy as it sounds, then Portland would really be in trouble.

The way the charter works, the mayor only has power if he has the city at his back. That support has to filter through members of the City Council. They are not going to follow his leadership if he repeatedly indicates that he has bad judgment, so it’s usually considered wise to avoid making yourself look ridiculous.

Strimling must have been kidding when he bragged Tuesday to the hosts at WGAN radio that he had the most “significant position in the city” with “more responsibility and more accountability” than any other official.

“If the mayor talks about a policy choice, it’s on the front page of the paper,” Strimling explained. “The power of this office is that you can shift the conversation in a day.”

But in reality, he must know that it’s not about headlines or conversations.

When he represents a majority on the City Council, the mayor has considerable influence on public affairs. When he doesn’t have a majority, he’s just a spectator at City Hall, albeit one with his own office and white noise machine.

If Strimling didn’t know all of this already, that would mean that he drastically misunderstood the position that he spent five years of his life pursuing, and that he still does not understand the job 16 months into his term.

It would mean that four city councilors, seven school board members, five former mayors, 9,162 voters and a prominent newspaper’s editorial board – who all endorsed Strimling for mayor – may have made a major mistake in 2015.

Nah. That can’t be it. There’s got to be a better explanation.

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Greg Kesich is the editorial page editor. He can be contacted at:

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Twitter: @gregkesich