Late last week, City Commissioner Sam Adams fired off a terse letter to Lee Scott, Wal-Mart's CEO. He was concerned that Wal-Mart has been steadily pushing forward plans to plop a Superstore in Sellwood, at the corner of McLoughlin and Tacoma. It would be the first such Superstore in Portland.

"I write to express my strong opposition," states the letter.

In an attempt to preserve local economies, cities like Chicago and states like Vermont have recently fought to keep Wal-Mart out. Over the past decade, communities around the country have watched as Wal-Mart Superstores have muscled into neighborhoods, offering low prices that undercut and ultimately decimate nearby mom-and-pop stores. Pile those economic effects onto union-busting practices and many have come to see Wal-Mart as a vampire to local economies.

Adams letter goes on: "Portland strives for a diverse economy [and] living wage jobs. These are the goals for which I was elected to pursue. I have seen little evidence that a Supercenter contributes to these goals."

The letter, sent on Thursday, was a polite request for Wal-Mart to leave Portland alone. So far, there is no word about pursuing a more aggressive campaign against the mega-corporation and, by press time, Adams had not received a response.

But that letter is one of only many steps Adams has been taking since entering office in January to become the guardian and champion of the city's economy. For example, during his first 100 days in office, Adams has visited small businesses around the city--100 to be exact. His goal was to find big answers to the city's flagging economy by asking questions of the small players--an approach decidedly different than past politicians, who primarily have turned to representatives from downtown corporations and the Portland Business Alliance. Derived from those meetings, Adams has already drafted a proposal to lower license fees on businesses.

On Monday, Adams' office also kicked off a series of public meetings intended to find out what other steps his office can take to foster businesses in the city. The primary goal, explained Adams, is to figure out ways to connect the city's esteemed livability to a viable economy. For years, Portland has been ranked as a top city to live, in spite of a local economy that spends a good deal of time in the shitter. (For the past several years, Portland has routinely led the nation's unemployment rates.)

To find out dates and locations for any of those public meetings during the summer, contact Adams' office at 823-3008.