Lately it seems about the only thing the Portland Development Commission (PDC) can do effectively is shoot itself in the foot. Over the past month, the leadership at PDC has fallen into a frenzied chaos as questionable contracts, wasteful spending, and calls for reform have swirled around the city agency.

The shitstorm began a month ago when PDC's Executive Committee chose to award Opus Development a $200 million contract to design and build the Burnside Bridgehead project. That decision went against recommendations from its own Evaluation Committee and public sentiment. In its wake, several reports have been published about PDC handing out no-bid contracts to friends, and outsourcing public funds for remedial projects like developing PowerPoint presentations for the mayor.

Early last week, one PDC executive was placed on paid leave pending an investigation into such contracts. On Friday, another top executive, Nancy McClain, who was responsible for contract compliance, resigned.

Last Wednesday, city council also discussed what to do about PDC. The matter was brought about after council member Randy Leonard introduced an ordinance that would abolish PDC and reform it as a city bureau, under direct control of city council. (Currently, PDC is essentially a freestanding agency.) In council chambers, Leonard introduced the ordinance by saying that PDC has "lost its way." He went on to bluntly claim that the public regards PDC as "wasteful, arrogant, and unaccountable."

Although Leonard was strident with his criticism, he admitted the proposed ordinance was more about starting a dialogue than truly abolishing PDC.

PDC's Executive Don Mazziotti is scheduled to step down as the agency's Executive Director at the end of June. They are still looking for a replacement.