MAYOR SAM ADAMS has had a good week. Off on another of his international jaunts, he's been hobnobbing in Germany—sipping wine with politicians and pitching woo to executives.
Call it a nice holiday from the mundane make-work of city business: street repairs, graffiti complaints, etc. The rest of us haven't been so lucky.
For much of the past month, the mayor's office has been hounding us about the city's "priorities." One online poll wrapped up Tuesday, March 29—just days after Adams' office released results from a phone survey taken earlier in the month.
And how did Adams fare in that poll? Five-hundred Portlanders (mostly 45 and older) were asked about key pieces of the mayor's agenda, including a leaf removal fee and a plan to take over Multnomah County's bridges. How'd he do? How's another week in Germany sound?
In this year's State of the City speech, Adams proposed a new urban renewal district enveloping Portland State University, hoping it would be more popular than a controversial plan for a much larger district that would have included parts of Old Town and the Pearl. That plan drew opprobrium partly because it might have cost Multnomah County and local tax revenue, but also because it might invest blight money in ni-cer-looking areas. Those concerns might be tempered now, but they're still there. The verdict? Only 49 percent support the idea, most of them only modestly.
During last year's budget fight, Portland City Council agreed to charge homeowners in the leafiest, swankiest neighborhoods a modest fee for the cost of collecting all the leaves that are dumped in the street in front of their homes. But the fee plan, which fell to Adams' bureau of transportation to implement, came apart amid a blitz of poor communication. After heavy criticism from vocal neighbors, Adams put the fee on an honor system and apologized. The verdict? Just 47 percent think it's a good idea.
The Bridges of Multnomah County
It's an issue, honestly, that only wonks really care about: Should Portland take over the county's Willamette River bridges? Adams tried linking that transfer to his support of a Sellwood Bridge rebuild last fall, but relented after County Chair Jeff Cogen sniped back. But the issue remains on the table—even though the earthquake and maintenance liability for whoever owns the bridges could reach into the tens of millions ["Crossings to Bear," News, Oct 28, 2010]. The verdict? Fifty-five percent either oppose the plan or just plain "don't know" what to think.
In another State of the City flourish, the mayor announced a new office of equity and asked Amanda Fritz to lead it. Fritz is enthusiastic, but the office—off to a controversial start after the director of the office of human relations tendered her resignation—is still defining what it will be and how it will promote something as potentially general as "equity." The verdict? It's a small victory. Fifty-two percent agree the city should promote equity.