With two commissioners out on "vacation," and with many city staffers gearing up for the Labor Day weekend by doing as little as possible, last week city hall was something of a ghost town.
That may explain why nobody from the city ever responded to the plight of Jewel the circus elephant—who's hobbling to town next week. Or maybe it's that nobody at the city wanted to deal with PETA's legion of irritating followers—who've spent the last two weeks flooding my inbox with thanks for a column I wrote in August. Or maybe it's because nobody who cares about the issue is actually from Portland, or because they're all spending their time writing to me—instead of someone with power, like, you know, the mayor. (For Christ's sake, please stop emailing me.)
But! Hey! At least the city is prepared to make a bold and exclusively symbolic stand against something that everybody can hate—human trafficking. Commissioner Dan Saltzman's office is introducing a resolution supporting the UN's dislike of slavery. Saltzman staffer Shannon Callahan jokingly referred to the resolution as "a politically risky move." Indeed.
I know! I know! I didn't realize that human trafficking was such a big problem in Portland, but that hasn't exactly stopped the city in the past from symbolically legislating in areas where it has no jurisdiction, like gays in the military. So, kudos to you, Dan Saltzman, for—well, I'm not sure what for, exactly.
On the other hand! In less symbolic, more practical matters, Commissioner Randy Leonard is gearing up to take on the oil industry yet again. After handing petroleum lobbyists their asses with his biodiesel requirement, he's going back into a frighteningly small room with them to hammer out the administrative details of the code.
Says Leonard's chief of staff, Ty Kovatch, they'll consider any reasonable input from the lobbyists (like the last-minute amendment Leonard included that would exempt any station that sells at least a 20 percent biodiesel blend), but won't waste taxpayers' time trying to accommodate unwavering arguments against the mandate. The meeting will take place in city hall's Rose Room, September 14, 9:30 am. Good luck getting the door open, what with all the oil and slime that'll be hanging off the doorknob.
And in the "We Finally Got Something Done" department—the city's first officially sanctioned and supported skate park is set to open as soon as mid-October. Portland voters approved the money for the park (and others to follow) in 2002—but it took four years to get the parks and recreation department to open the facility at Pier Park (in St. Johns). Check out the park's progress at pdxskaters.org.