It's holiday party season at city hall—complete with white elephant gift exchanges, karaoke, and "Lyne's famous chili."

The mayor's staff headed to Public Safety and Security Staff Assistant Jared Spencer's house for the aforementioned karaoke and gift exchange. "It's potluck and BYOB because we respect and safeguard taxpayer dollars," says spokesperson John Doussard. "Jared and his mother are providing Ethiopian food."

Commissioner Dan Saltzman is taking his staff to lunch at Porto Terra in the Hilton on Friday, December 21. That night, Saltzman's staff—AKA "the office that drinks the most together"—is heading to Office Manager Lyne Martin's house for the aforementioned famous chili. Last Saturday, December 15, Commissioner Sam Adams' staff hit Chief of Staff Tom Miller's house. No word on commisioners Erik Sten and Randy Leonard's shindigs.

It's not all fun and games and running around with lampshades on their heads at city hall, however. In between potlucks, staffers are refining policy and gearing up for January, when the council agenda will be packed with things like the Park System Development Charges and a transportation funding package (a proposal on which Adams has already been making the city's editorial board rounds, pitching the $813 million in projects as a way to alleviate congestion, repair roads, and prevent traffic-related injuries and deaths). And on Wednesday night, December 19, the council's holding one of their infrequent evening meetings, to go over the Office of Transportation's ideas for shoring up safety at 14 intersections that are particularly hairy for bicyclists—including two intersections that were the scenes of fatalities earlier this year. The council already approved $200,000 for safety improvements like "bike boxes" and traffic signal changes. (Hey, that's almost as much as the $217,500 the council's expected to approve earlier that day, to settle two police excessive force complaints!)

Outside of city hall, council hopefuls don't have much time for holiday cheer—in the race for the seat Adams is vacating, every candidate is busy gathering up their 1,000 $5 contributions to qualify for public financing, due January 31. As we went to press, Amanda Fritz was just 51 shy of the goal, Chris Smith had just passed the halfway mark, and Charles Lewis—who spent the weekend installing windows in the shabby Albina Arts Center building on N Killingsworth that he's rehabbing as part of his "Community Corps" public service platform—picked up his 749th contribution.

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