MAYOR SAM ADAMS has sure been taking a lot of shit these past few weeks—and that's saying something for a guy who got up on stage for a Mortified production this month and bared the more unsightly secrets of his teenage years.
His counterpart at Multnomah County, Chairman Jeff Cogen, ripped into Adams first over the near collapse of the Sellwood Bridge funding deal. Then he fired again last week over a city plan to build a special development zone in Northwest, Southwest, and downtown that would siphon tax bucks from the county.
Then there's the Oregonian, driving Adams' staff batty with a continuing parade of columns slamming the mayor, and another handful of stories needling him over things like no-shows at speeches or the fact that his office's calendars sometimes arrive tardily.
And while a lot of observers at city hall have been bitching about the recent—and interesting—surge in anti-Adams rhetoric, not a lot of them are willing to go on the record in defense of their mayor.
What good fortune, then, that Commissioner Randy Leonard is back from vacation. In an email to me this week, Leonard took delight in opening the floodgates. Like many folks, Leonard is absolutely convinced Cogen is laying the groundwork for a 2012 run at Adams' post.
Quoth Leonard: "All of us in elected positions are of course ambitious, or we would not be here. But to be effective one needs to balance that ambition with a focus on building relationships, which cannot occur without a foundation of trust. Running against Sam based on his record is one thing. Attempting to manipulate that record beyond what it already is could be perceived as, at least, piling on and, at most, unprincipled naked ambition."
Whoah! So, naturally, I talked to Cogen, too.
And, quoth the chair: "I was elected by the residents of Multnomah County six months ago to be chairman. I see it as my job to look out for what's in the best interest of the county's residents and taxpayers. Urban renewal takes money away from county services, city services, and schools. Creating an urban renewal area requires us to work together with everyone at the table, not calling them names or impugning their motives. My record of building partnerships, working effectively, and being honest speaks for itself."
Yowza. As for 2012? "I'm not even thinking about that a little." We shall see.