Hall Monitor 

Wag the Beard

On Monday, August 25, Mayor Tom Potter returned from a two-week vacation with an interesting souvenir: a clean-shaven face.

Almost exactly a year ago, Potter returned from vacation with the scraggly beginnings of a beard, and announced that he wouldn't be running for a second term.

So what does the fresh new look signal? Could Potter's political ambitions be renewed? Is he thinking of running as a write-in candidate for the Multnomah County Commission, for the open third district seat?

Uh, nope. At best, the shave is a welcome distraction from how sloooow things are at city hall in August. (Now would be a good time for Potter's spokesman John Doussard to go camping, lest he have to field a week of calls about the mayor's facial hair.)

How slow is it? City hall staffers are giddy over new hot-and-cold water dispensers that are hooked up to the tap. Commissioner Randy Leonard—who heads up the water bureau—has had one in his office for a while, so he and his staff can boast that they drink pure Portland tap water. Now, thanks to the Portland Water Bureau's surprise gift, the rest of the commissioners have kicked the bottled-water habit, too.

Speaking of Leonard—and of actual city business—he's supposed to be on vacation. But on Monday, August 25, he put in almost a full day at city hall, working on his forthcoming report about the city's public safety system, which is due to Mayor-elect Sam Adams on September 9. Leonard has been sending drafts of his report to colleagues for feedback, but wouldn't give one to this pesky reporter for her comments. He'd only offer up this: His report gives his analysis of the police bureau and other parts of the public safety system, and also makes recommendations to strengthen it. Stay tuned.

As for Adams, he'll be in China when Leonard's report is due on his desk (but says he'll get it via email). Adams may be a few weeks late for the Olympics, but he'll be playing his own game while he's there, pitching Portland's green and sustainable businesses—and the services they have to offer—to China, which isn't even close to obtaining the sort of "greenest place ever" accolades Portland loves to pile up.

Meanwhile, Commissioner Nick Fish and his staff are figuring out what to do about a recent audit that shows the city has lost millions of dollars in tax giveaways to developers, and they don't have a whole lot of affordable housing to show for it. (Developers didn't always sell or rent the units at an affordable rate. Oops!) The commissioner's office plans to schedule a council work session soon, to dissect questions like whether the city can recoup its investments.

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