If you're in public relations, and let's face it, most of us end up there, the thing you're always thinking is: How can I create a spectacle? So congratulations to Portland's city council this morning, for managing to corral virtually all the local media to the announcement by Mayor Sam Adams of his $503 million-plus "Portland Job Creation and Business Stimulus Package," which aims to produce an estimated 4,985 private-sector jobs over the next 12 months, by fast-tracking, over the next 12 months, city public works and construction projects originally slated for the next five years.
Projects like the "River District Fields" —a $3.1m, 2 acre park using PDC resources, are part of the plan. Then there's a $4m Greenway slated for the South Waterfront, not to mention a $2.8m neighborhood park down there. Adams' darling project, the East Burnside and Couch Couplet, is prioritized, with a $25m price tag, and the potential creation of 351 jobs. Then there's the Gibbs Street Pedestrian Bridge, at a cost of $11m, creating 157 jobs.
When I get back to the office, I'll scan in the list of city-funded projects, so you can take a look. Update, 12:46 pm: I've posted two documents after the jump, first, the list of city-funded capital projects that are going to be jumped forward to the next 12 months, and second the process document for the city's stimulus initiative. Wonk away!
The first thing that comes to mind, however, is that where in the past, public outreach and community input was valued highly in the process towards executing city-funded projects, now, it's likely to take a back seat, instead, to the argument that construction workers need jobs, now. City Commissioner Amanda Fritz, who stood for election on the grounds that she would ensure basic services for all of Portland's neighborhoods, didn't seem to be protesting the $7m of investment in the South Waterfront this morning, however.
Commissioner Randy Leonard said the plan is all about creating an economic impact on Portland. For every construction worker given a dollar worth of work, he expects to see $2 worth of economic impact on the city.
Adams said the plan does not mean putting the city further into debt, since the money for all these projects already "exists." But there is a risk that by borrowing from the city's budget for the next five years over the next 12 months, that if the economy doesn't improve after 12 months, then, where else does he borrow money from?
"This city council is going to stay incredibly agile on this issue," said Adams.
Here's those two documents. First, the list of city projects...
Second, the city's process document for the stimulus initiative...