- Illustration by Corey Thompson
An early look at the speech seems to shout one word louder than any other: The economy. And that's where Sam's starting, after ticking off the familiar list of Portland's woes, from low wages to high unemployment to inequity: "The work we've been doing to address these fundamental flaws is not necessarily media sexy. it has been messy and has been at times controversial. but it's about investing."
And because Portland started cutting spending, sooner, he says, we're on pace to have a budget surplus and—cue his first applause line—"a city that offers all of its citizens the most equal of opportunities."
Update 12:31: This has been a familiar line in Sam's midterm interviews. He talks about separating out the Portland Development Commission and Housing Bureau. And how he combined the Bureau of Planning with the Office of Sustainable Development.
In building the Housing Bureau: "Commissioner Nick Fish, thank you for your great work."
And then Randy Leonard got cheers, for his work in getting all the various city permitting offices into one building.
Update 12:33: Dan Saltzman isn't here! He's out "spending time with his daughter." Sam thanked him for taking on the police bureau so Sam could spend time working on the economy—glancing over the controversy last year when Sam took over the bureau.
Amanda Fritz also was recognized, for her work on the city office that promotes river wellness. There was an oblique reference to the stalled River Plan.
Update 12:37: Now Sam's talking about businesses—after asking the PDC staff and other city workers to bow for applause. He mentioned the Vestas deal, and ReVolt, and his recent trip to Spain to woo another company, Iberdrola, that might be leaving. "We will work harder than any city to grow our companies and build our companies."
This was followed by a shout out to Vancouver and Clark County, who are "part of the metro area," Sam notes. Even if "we don't always" agree with them.
Update 12:39: For the third time, Sam uses the words "small" and "scrappy." By way of touting his ability to build a new economic development strategy, he says: otherwise, "we risk becoming an economic suburb to places like Seattle and San Francisco." Also, just as he's done in midterm interviews, he mentions that the strategy's approval was followed immediately by the city's first purchase of streetcars in decades.
Update 12:43: On his travels, he says most people don't know who Portland is. "More people know Portland cement." But he says now the city is "getting its act together," more business leaders are paying attention worldwide. He's planning a trip to Germany, for example.
Update 12:46: More big applause lines: the Decemberists coming home tomorrow for a concert. Esperanza Spalding. And Portlandia getting renewed for a second season. "Put a bird on that!" Also revealed: NBC has greenlighted a pilot here. We need to support Kitzhaber's film tax credit expansion.
Update 12:50: Some sober topics: Race and geographical inequality in Portland. "Portland polite" is too polite, sometimes, Sam says. Not all Portlanders share in the magic of the place as depicted so frequently. A new survey and set of workshops are coming out, led by Fritz.
""It's about building bridges," a deft transition into talk about the Columbia River Crossing and the Sellwood Bridge. The CRC "has been at times a push and pull struggle, and we're down to decision time."
He touches on the study he commissioned that pointed to the original bridge design's failures, and how he pushed to trim it from 12 lanes to 10. "Thus far what we've promoted has saved money and made for a better project. My plea... listen to us."
Update 12:55: Another big announcement: A fifth job creation business "cluster": on research and commercialization. "We invent things here, but we don't make enough off the things we invent."
And it's followed by another: A new urban renewal district focused on Portland State University. "I knew Urban Renewal Areas are controversial. I look forward to this conversation with my friend Jeff Cogen." (Never mind that Cogen and Adams have butted heads over URAs before.) And Sam wants it in place by the end of 2011. (Is it significant that Cogen wasn't in the room when he was called later for his own ovation?)
And one more! The PDC has a new executive director, replacing the retiring Bruce Warner: Patrick Quinton.
Update 1:04: After talk about supporting this spring's Portland Public Schools bond measures, and his efforts to tamp down high school graduation rates (they'll be getting more money; so far, the rates haven't dropped much despite his efforts), he moved onto public safety.
He went positive: Crime rates are low, as low as they've been in 40 years. Then he went after a good photo-op subject: Human trafficking, a problem that may or may not be as big as officials have been saying it is. In any case, it's fair to point out that Sam and Saltzman helped fund the first shelter beds for victims in this city.
Another victory gets mentioned: Illegal guns. "I had an inkling" it might be controversial. "It was and is the right thing to do."
He did not mention the words "police shootings," but touted "tough and fair decisions on accountability," drug testing, and more diversity in hiring. He then set up Reese for a huge ovation: "I would like to congratulate the bureau for continuously striving for excellence."
One announcement: Funding for a $15 million police training facility (which the Mercury first reported was headed to the Portland International Raceway.)
Another major announcement, this one tied to the increase in addicted and mentally ill people on the streets: Sam offered Multnomah County the ability to manage the River Patrol Unit, freeing up $1 million to backfill cuts to mental health services and to combat crime in places like Old Town. "Turf must not stand in our way."
Update 1:07: Sam wants to create a neighborhood development action plan, noting that "not all Portland neighborhoods" have the same things other neighborhoods have. Five "micro" districts will get renewal funding for small scale projects, without taking a lot of money away from Multnomah County.
He's also asking grocery stores to open locations in places like Parkrose and Lents—40 percent of Portlanders live a mile or more from a grocery store.
Update 1:16: And that's the end of the speech. Q&A is starting.
Sam still wants to create 10,000 jobs by 2014, and he says he hopes to announce by next year that half of those have been created. Of course, as Sarah notes, "In the past two years, the county has lost 26,400 jobs."
Oooh, a Joint Terrorism Task Force question! Foremost is "protecting legal rights" and making the city "more inclusive," but just as important putting the "partnerships in place" to manage safety. He wants as much unanimity as possible, meaning everyone but Saltzman on board, will be okay—and also that there's a chance next Thursday's scheduled vote isn't actually gonna be a vote.
And then a question on the community's trust in the police: "It's our top priority." And beyond changes in light of crises: "The way forward is when see good work being done is to reward it."
One last query: will Sam run in 2012. No surprises here. "I haven't decided."
And that's all folks.