Nick Fish, the city's water commissioner, brought forward a modest item to this morning's city council meeting. Weeks after announcing he'd be selling the water bureau's infamous East Portland "water demonstration house," a story the O's been chasing, he's proposing selling a separate mobile home owned by the bureau home up on Powell Butte.
It's not going to bring in much money, maybe as little as $13,000. But Fish says he'll put it in the water bureau's so-called "rate stabilization" fund, a pot of savings used to smooth spikes in rate increases.
More importantly, though, both sales are part of a political fix-it job in the wake of a lawsuit over some of the bureau's non-mission-critical investments under former Commissioner Randy Leonard. That lawsuit has since spawned a ballot campaign to strip control of the utilities from the city council.
And that's why Mayor Charlie Hales had maybe the best line in the debate, after commissioners unanimously agreed to let Fish proceed with the sale. Hales, when thanking Fish, managed to sound just like a woebegone relative who'd inherited a frighteningly messy house from someone he wasn't all that close to. (Also, no, Hales and Leonard are definitely not close.)
"Thank you for openly and methodically working to clean out the garage of the water bureau," Hales said, noting that some of the presumed clutter in the bureau's "closet" had been there for some time.
"The theory by Commissioner Fish here is to be relentlessly consistent, responsible, and clear," he followed. "Good deeds are often punished. Sometimes they might be noticed and appreciated by a larger majority."