INAUGURATION DAY Sam Adams sets up shop. David Plechl
Sam Adams, the newest member of city council, explained a lot at his inauguration last Monday. He talked about plans for the next 100 days and he talked about what Portland needs to do to jumpstart its economy. But what he didn't explain is why he hosted the event at PSU's Native American Student Center or why his inauguration event began with an invocation from the Northwest Indian Veterans Association. It was an odd beginning to the next chapter in city politics--especially one dominated by five white males.

Nevertheless, as the city's first openly gay elected official, Adams represents the widest diversity within the current crowd of city council members. And his inauguration speech was perhaps the most promising game plan in Portland's recent political history.

After thanking his family and supporters--notably departing Mayor Vera Katz--Adams went on to lay out detailed plans for his first 100 days in office, employing the unabashedly wonkish style that helped him edge out Nick Fish in the general election. But his tone was decidedly different from the campaign trail; no longer the desperate candidate, Adams has already emerged as a confident city leader. His pledges, some familiar and some new, included:

Creating new jobs: "We are not at fault for national or international recessions," he said. "But we do need to take responsibility for the fact that since I moved here in 1968, Oregon and Portland have been the worst place for unemployment during each of those recessions." Adams plans on visiting 100 businesses during his first 100 business days in office, meeting with owners and workers to assess their needs from the city.

Glasnost: In an effort to make city government more transparent, Adams will introduce an ordinance that requires all paid lobbyists to register with the city. He'll ask for legislation on the state level to add five independently appointed members to the city budget committee--thereby allowing "us five white males to add diversity to decisions on how money is spent." Also, he will push for state legislation requiring the release of grand jury transcripts in cases of officer-involved shootings.

Improving city services while lowering costs: Adams said he will require each bureau under his direction to divide their budgets by neighborhood. Currently, the budget review process is so cumbersome that it prohibits actual citizen review. By making budgets neighborhood-specific, citizens will "know how money is being spent in (their) neighborhood and how that compares with other parts of the city," explained Adams.

Improving Portland's livability: In general terms, Adams said he will fight for affordable housing and against gentrification. In specific terms, that means working to block the potential new Home Depot development at the Burnside Bridgehead site, as well as challenging Measure 37 in the courtroom or, at the very least, de-fanging its impact by setting up a claims process that's fair to land owners and protects the city.