Winner of Mayor Moonbeam Legacy Essay Contest! 5th Listener Pete

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[Potter] simply left Portland emotionally drained.

Frequent anger was engendered by his actions, things like support of the Critical Mass biker blockade, the Schumacher’s debacle, the back room Del Monte tip off. Frequent elation accompanied his defeats, the city wide income tax and failed Portland Convention Center Hotel extravaganza. This roller coaster ride simply leaves one emotionally exhausted after four years.

His legacy is the irrationality that has characterized his tenure in office. His policies, directives, and actions were not derived from the rule of reason or law, but the rule of emotion. He admitted as much late in his term in describing his actions surrounding the Day Labor Center and Del Monte projects administering from the “heart” never mind the law, but this theme permeated his tenure as Mayor.

Before the 2004 Mayoral election, Potter was irresistible and irreproachable as he swept to office of over the “status quo” candidate Francesconi. He wanted us to all feel better about government!

Immediately following taking his Mayor’s Oath of Office to uphold the US and State of Oregon Constitutions and the Charter of the City of Portland, his first official action was to ride with Critical Mass to blockade Portland traffic. This action should have served as a precursor of the emotional roller coaster ride to characterize the Potter term as his Oath of Office and rule of law was ignored. He went on to idolize the Zoo bombers, oversee the destruction of Schumachers, and snub the FBI. Portland Potter’s era of spiritual enlightenment and illumination by “Mayor Moonbeam” had begun.

During his term Potter could be irritating, for example, during his support of the day labor center, irritable, as displayed by his frequent outbursts of indignation at his opponents and the press in his numerous defeats including the citywide school tax initiative, irrecusable as with his frequent self righteous admonitions to those in the chamber, “Do not boo, hiss, cheer or clap” preceding city council debates, irrefutable in his stubborn unwillingness to abandon an overbudget and questionable Tram/South Waterfront project, and finally by his own characterization was “irrelevant” as his Chavez street renaming imperative. By his own words,he characterized the latter project when he stated, “It was a debacle”. This debacle simply served to amplify and underscore his previous abandonment of the adherence to his Oath of Office and the rule of law.

And where is the Potter legacy in promoting a strong Portland business sector? It was certainly absent in his emotional cheerleading of the PETA protesters outside of Schumachers. Walking in Pioneer Place or the streets of the downtown core, amidst the shiny new rails, one can’t help but notice the abundance of vacant retail shops. And speaking of shiny new rails and emptiness, what better describes the South Waterfront’s Atwater and John Ross Condominiums, whose imminent construction interest reserve exhaustion portends impending disaster. And a year ago, a small firm moves out of the Portland core, saving $100,000 a year in taxes, fees, and parking costs and gaining badly needed readily available freeway access. Is this irrecoverable loss of economic activity by Portland, the legacy or simply the result of Potter’s four year tenure.

Ultimately, the Potter legacy, is the emotional tone he mandated in Portland, with disregard for the rule of law!! Rather than order, the Potter relegated disorder. Rather than rational decision making, decisions were invariably irrational. Rather than make us feel better, more united, the Potter legacy left us more divided. Rather than accomplished, his legacy left us exhausted, emotionally drained. And ultimately, our memory of his legacy will pass quickly, as quickly as emotions fade away.

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4 thoughts on “Winner of Mayor Moonbeam Legacy Essay Contest! 5th Listener Pete

  1. Victoria

    Thanks for the comment. As I think I suggested, it was very hard to assess a legitimate Legacy for Mayor Potter.

    I find it incredibly ironic that on the last day of his term, Mayor Potter releases the results of such a study described in the following article released on the KPAM website,

    “Potter Urges Aid for Small Businesses”

    Outgoing mayor releases report on last day in office
    By Jim Redden

    The Portland Tribune, Dec 31, 2008

    “The report include a series of recommendations for the next council to consider, including:

    • Creating a Portland small business economic development plan that includes having the city purchase as many goods and services as possible from local small businesses.

    • Developing a city-sponsored marketing campaign that promotes neighborhood shopping districts, similar to the existing Downtown Marketing Initiative that promotes downtown.

    • Reducing the number of city agencies that small businesses must deal with that present “too many bureaucratic barriers.”

    • Increasing the deduction small business owners are allowed to subtract from the incomes in assessing their city business taxes.

    • Improving streets and increasing parking in neighborhood business districts.

    “Our community simply can’t thrive if our small businesses don’t,” Potter wrote in the report.

    City Commissioner and Mayor-elect Sam Adams is scheduled to be sworn in as mayor just after midnight Wednesday in a ceremony at City Hall.

    All Portlanders are invited to meet the new city council during a series of events on Monday, Jan. 5.”


    Why has the City waited for four years to suggest implementing a recommendation to place greater emphasis on City purchases of small business products. Wouldn’t one think that this government action should have been a serious and implemented directive (I think they made this promise in past years) four years ago when the then newly elected Mayor wished to make the people feel better about their government? Perhaps this recommendation was made again simply to justify cultivating the next generation of PDC/PDX City Council selected developers like Homer Williams!

    I find the second committee recommendation very scary, developing a “city-sponsored marketing campaign” for small business neighborhood shopping districts, similar to those existing for Downtown, to be frightening! A visit to Downtown Portland shows that such a proposal portends true disaster for the small neighborhood retailer and businessman. Thanks for the offer, but No Thanks!

    Really my skeptical side sees a real problem in the proposed third recommendation, “Reducing the number of city agencies that small businesses must deal with that present ‘too many bureaucratic barriers.'”

    The reduction of the number of city agencies that business must deal with is certainly a noble goal and I can not take issue with such a recommendation! However, the fact that the phrase “too many bureaucratic barriers” was posed in quotes suggests to me that this was merely condescending political statement adapted for media publication and that neither the committee recommendation nor the City are truly convinced that small business faces such real “bureaucratic barriers”. Being a principal in a small business and having dealt with the bureaucracy, such pandering recommendations and political pabulum are hardly credible!!

    Increasing small business tax deductions again is again a noble gesture and a move in the right direction, however, why not simply reduce taxes and fees directly? Again, this recommendation seems condescending and political tripe!

    Finally, improving streets and increasing parking in neighborhood business districts, certainly should have been a long standing government imperative. And we need a study to recommend this action? It also seems curious to me that last week on December 23, that the streets of the Hollywood District in NE Portland were far clearer than those of downtown business district. Commitment to better streets should be a full time commitment government, not just lip service or a convenient fabricated City Government committee report recommendation. And what about those overly abundant pesky pot holes, shouldn’t they merit a recommendation of there own?

    As to the ascent of Mayor Moonbeam lite, Sam Adams, I see little evidence that there is any real commitment to any of these recommendations. In fact, the lightweight has already suggested “higher business taxes”, and prevalence of “car abuse” suggesting that at least two of the above report recommendations will gain no traction in an Adam’s Administration!!

  2. Thanks, Lew.

    However, given the rather sparing responses on this post, I have to suggest that you are the master in eliciting commentary!!

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