1. His new proposals to build an urban renewal area (URA) around Portland State University by this summer, as well as urban renewal "micro" districts around five would-be commercial strips in outer East Portland, mean there are no longer plans to cobble together a "lobster-like" (the mayor's words) URA in downtown and Northwest. The PSU URA (too many acronyms) can be considered the more politically feasible leftover rump of the old Central City URA.
The Central City URA caused a stir among county and schools officials who worried about siphoned-off property tax revenues at a time of need. Adams defended the approach, saying it was designed to "avoid impacts" on their finances. But he also conceded, after a long period of public comment: "I don't think there's political support for that ambitious a renewal district."
2. The plan to build tiny renewal areas out in East Portland builds on his talk in his speech about trying to address the HUGE disparities between some of Portland's neighborhoods. The districts would be modeled after the Main Street program that put money into Alberta Street and in St. Johns, but with the subsidies, totaling just a few hundred thousand dollars at most over three to five years, a little more intensive.
A key component of the plan involves making it easier for grocery chains to open stores in places like Lents—which hasn't had a mainline grocery store in decades. It's based on a similar program he says he's observed in Chicago. In preliminary talks, there's been interest, but the talks so far are "not definitive" and they haven't been "with all chains." The Portland Development Commission has issued "requests for interest" already.
I asked him whether that meant he was open to talking with big-box stores like Wal-Mart. "Legally, I cannot discriminate," was all the mayor would say. Twice.
3. In response to the word "shooting," or any mention of the victims of police shootings, not appearing in his speech, he paused for a second and then said, "Rightly or wrongly, I think my decisions on discipline speak for themselves."
During our interview, he also avoided the word, referring to "our review of the Aaron Campbell use of deadly force." He explained—after negotiating a contentious police union contract and after firing the officer who shot Campbell—that he's trying to balance the tough talk with praise for police officers who are doing a good job. "I'm tough on the bureau when I need to be, I think."
In talking more about the union contract, I asked why also he glossed over the fact that random testing for steroids, while permitted under the new deal, remains too technically difficult for the city to actually implement. I knew the answer: That's not the kind of thing one dwells on when making a speech like that.
Adams said it was groundbreaking just to have the right to do it, and that the police bureau can still test for it (like it's always been able to do) when there's reasonable suspicion. He also defended the cost of the pay raises offered in the contract—$5 million over its three-year life, plus ongoing costs in future years. Overall, in the eight contracts settled over the past year, the city saved $10 million.
4. Don't expect a vote Thursday when the city council takes up the question of re-embedding our police officers in the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force. The mayor says he's working on a substantive proposal—due out next week—that he expects his colleagues will want more time to consider. Adams says his staff is preparing a notebook of data for his perusal over the holiday weekend.
"I'm pleased with our 45-day review," he said about a process he took charge of politically, after Dan Saltzman reacted to the Pioneer Square bomb plot with an immediate call to rejoin. Unlike the years before the council finally decided to get out in 2005, this review has been more deliberate, bringing in experts and holding town halls.
"Previous considerations of this issue have felt much more sloganeery, on both sides," said Adams, who wouldn't hint at how he was voting but noted that legal rights were "foremost" when thinking about the issue.
5. This isn't from Adams, but from a source close to Saltzman, who notably was absent from the speech. Apparently he's gone downstate to spend time with his daughter, on a trip scheduled long before the mayor's speech. Top of their list? Attending the Civil War Game between Oregon and Oregon State.