Commissioner Sam Adams wants to drop $35,000 on a consultant to help the César E. Chávez Boulevard Committee finally rename a Portland street for the labor leader.
He means well: "We're really trying to be squeaky clean" this time around, Adams tells me, noting that the consultant will be responsible for doing "good public outreach and communication" during the renaming process. "Clearly, we can improve upon the last process," he notes. No kidding: Do I even need to remind you what a mess last year's rename effort was?
But long before the wheels came off of the street-renaming process last time, the city council gave the lug nuts a good loosening, by signaling their preemptive approval to rename Interstate. That set off a neighborhood maelstrom from residents who felt their voices wouldn't be heard, no matter how loudly they yelled.
Dropping $35,000 on a consultant may seem like a good idea from Adams' point of view, but it can easily be read as another move by the city to preordain a renaming outcome. Granted, the council has already signaled their support of renaming a major street in Portland for Chávez. But it doesn't help the Chávez committee one bit for the council to do anything more than point them toward the perfectly clear city code, and let them follow it.
"I totally disagree," says Adams, insisting that the consultant is not special treatment for the Chávez committee—though it's not a service that will automatically included for other street-rename efforts; Adams says he'll "make recommendations to the council [about a consultant] on a case-by-case basis."
"A $35,000 investment so that people don't think they're schnookered, I think is worth it," Adams says. Fingers crossed the city isn't about to spend 35 grand to do the exact opposite.
Speaking of street renames, the group that would like to rename 42nd Avenue for author Douglas Adams—of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy fame—has given their effort a kick in the pants. Proponent Aaron Duran originally turned in a street rename application last December, but it was apparently misplaced (and he admits he didn't follow up in a timely fashion). He turned in a new one on Monday, August 4, and is awaiting city approval so he can start collecting signatures. But he may have to wait quite some time: "We are now trying to determine how to process it since there is currently a request for Chávez going through the pipeline. City code says that only one street-renaming application shall be processed at a time," a Portland Department of Transportation staffer wrote to Duran on Tuesday. Stay tuned.
Finally, in other gonna-be-a-mess news around city hall, shop owner Doug Peterson—the guy the city is trying to evict from his space in the municipal parking garage on SW Yamhill—lawyered up. Attorney Charlie Williamson sent a tort claim notice to the city on July 16, indicating that Peterson may sue once he's kicked out on August 15. Meanwhile, Commissioner Dan Saltzman's "due diligence" effort—he wants more info on what's behind the city's vague record of complaints against the shop—hasn't gained much traction with his council colleagues.