We interrupt our regularly scheduled stimulus bill translation for an update on an issue that refuses to die.
I was at City Hall this morning for an early morning meeting. As I was leaving at about 9am, I saw abut 10 people gathered outside with signs advocating for removing Sam Adams from office. I am an advocate of free speech, and absolutely support their right to be there, but I do wonder about the possible consequences of their actions.
The first wave of stimulus money is set to flow into local governments within the next 30 days, with a second pool of funds being released in 90 days from yesterday. All of the stimulus funds are “use it or lose it” and if the funds aren’t allocated within their designated timeframe, they return back to the pool for redistribution.
Historically, Portland economy falls deeper and stays down longer than other comparably-sized cities. The combination of our economic track record and the stimulus’ short response times, suggests to me that we all need to keep our focus on keeping Portland’s economy afloat.
I have begun to see concerning signals that the ongoing focus on Sam’s previous errors are negatively impacting his actions. On February 16th, there was a press conference at which Senator Ron Wyden, Senator Jeff Merkley, County Chair Ted Wheeler, Metro Council President David Bragdon, and Commissioners Nick Fish and Randy Leonard spoke about what the American Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Act means for Portland and Oregon. Several people who were at the press conference noted that our mayor was absent from such a visible event.
One of the benefits of having a weak mayor system is that the day-to-day work of City Council can go on even if the mayor is distracted by other issues. But, given the unprecedented economic situation we are facing, I am not sure what those who are advocating for Sam’s recall gain by initiating their campaign 4 months before they can legally begin to take any concerete action. It seems to me that their disraction tactics will only end up hurting the very city that they are trying to protect.