Around city hall, Thanksgiving kicked off a day early—with Chinese food.
On Wednesday, November 21, after the city council's second round of voting against the idea of renaming Interstate Avenue for César E. Chávez, the committee behind the rename headed to Fong Chong Restaurant on NW 4th for a celebration of sorts. Though Interstate hadn't been renamed, neither had 4th Avenue (AKA the council's 11th hour compromise from a week earlier, and one the Chávez committee—and Chinatown's businesses along 4th— staunchly opposed).
Outside of council chambers, moments after the council opted to vote down the "well-meaning, but not a good" plan to rename 4th (thanks largely to prodding from Interstate-rename advocate and Multnomah County Commissioner Maria Rojo de Steffey), Richard Louie of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association invited the Chávez committee out to dim sum for lunch. The two groups had worked together to thwart the council's plan, and succeeded.
So what's next?
Commissioner Dan Saltzman tabled an ordinance that would have reshaped the city's rename process—making it easier for the council to initiate renames—and told the committee exactly what someone in city hall should have told them earlier this year. "If you want to work with the existing process with either one of those streets... I'm open to that," Saltzman said. But Commissioner Sam Adams pledged to craft yet another new process, and post it on his blog for public comment. (Let me be the first: We don't need a new rename process. There's a perfectly good one in the city code.)
Oh, and de Steffey's considering a city council run, thanks—in part—to the Interstate debacle. "I have been talking to a lot of people saying you need to run," she says. "We need more women, we need more people of color. I think the city needs a balance on the council that it doesn't have." She plans to announce one way or another in January for the open seat Adams is vacating.
Returning to city hall—and to the less sexy business of running a city—after the holiday weekend, the council's chiefs of staff met up on Monday afternoon, November 26, to try and reach consensus on the fall budget surplus. Going into the meeting, they still had to cut over a million bucks from the wish list. "We got very close, but we didn't reach the exact total," says Austin Raglione, Potter's chief of staff. "We still have about $700,000 left to find." The mayor's putting together the final ordinance, with items that he believes has a majority of the council's support.