Don’t Know Mayor Potter But…

I’ve been out of touch from Portland politics over the last 4 years while at Harvard.  I’m excited to return, and have heard good things from community activists about Mayor Tom Potter.  Several friends work now in his administration.  I’m sad though to learn that questioning of economic development policies is receiving muzzling attention from the Mayor.  Is it more business as usual, lacking transparency, accountability, or what?  I know that there have been significant efforts by Potter to bring more citizens into the Portland political process, with Vision PDX and other activities that have seemed good intentioned, at least from afar.  Seems meaningless though if things like this happen…

Portland Tribune Link: Sources Say.

In Portland the mayor has the power to take
bureaus away from the commissioners who oversee them, and some City
Hall observers have wondered whether Mayor Tom Potter would ever use it
to rein in his more boisterous colleagues.

Well, according to Commissioner Randy Leonard,
Potter tried in a closed-door meeting last summer: “The mayor implied
strongly that if I kept pushing I was going to lose my bureaus.”

The punchline? Potter’s beef was Leonard’s
criticism of how the Portland Development Commission offered a
developer the city-owned Southwest Third Avenue and Oak Street property
for free – and now, the PDC’s own documents show that Leonard was right
all along.

Last Thursday, The Oregonian’s Scott Learn
disclosed that the PDC let the developer essentially ghostwrite the
appraisal that allowed the land giveaway, apparently to avoid paying
better-than-market wages under the state prevailing wage law.

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