NOT SO LONG AGO, Portland City Hall was just a sleepy place where nothing got done apart from the odd illicit alleged restroom kiss. Now, it's a bloody chaotic madhouse. I swear city hall has gone totally bonkers.
First up, City Commissioner Randy Leonard has been goading the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco by having Portland celebrate "Tibet Awareness Day" on Wednesday, March 10. He turned down a meeting with the Chinese consul on Monday, March 8, to discuss the move—because the consul wanted to hold it at the University Club across the street and they don't let you wear jeans in there. In the end, Mayor Sam Adams and Leonard held the meeting at city hall instead.
Tibet awareness is all very well, but meanwhile, Leonard is asking the city for a $1.5 million loan to cover a hole in the budget through June for his Bureau of Development Services (BDS)—which does permitting for, snort, snort, "Portland's construction industry." Leonard already fired half the bureau's employees last year, but now BDS is well and truly buttocksed. [Editor's Note: We have no idea what that means either.] Better still, Leonard wants an extra $5.2 million for BDS computer system upgrades.
City Commissioner Dan Saltzman has tried to inject a little sanity into the proceedings by drafting a council resolution to appeal an arbitrator's ruling ordering the city to pay $104,000 to Tom Hurley—a former firefighter who used disability payments to go to culinary school and become a world-famous chef. Leonard, meanwhile, thinks we should just roll over and pay it. Umm... no!
Perhaps most absolutely nuts of all is Mayor Adams' plan to divert $20 million from the Bureau of Environmental Services to kickstart his $600 million bike plan. Yes, I like bikes. I ride bikes. Yes, I like the bike plan. But we're talking about taking $12.4 million of that $20 million that would otherwise fund sewer maintenance and reliability throughout the city, and spending it on bike lanes. That's money that comes out of your sewer rates. And Portlanders may literally end up paying for this out of their bums.
Even worse, nobody in the bike community has raised a peep about this. And for that, shame on you, bike community. For all the good this city has done for you, it's time for you stand up for the good of everyone.
I'm all for writing checks to support our priorities as a city. But these desperate fiscal conjuring tricks and distraction tactics are unsustainable. And they stink. Kind of like a backed-up sewer.