Saturday, June 03, 2006

Sam Adams, Welcome to Loaded Orygun

Well, not literally. But it occurred to me last night as I wrote about Portland mayor Tom Potter's senior moments, that as far as we've ever written, there are only four members of Council: Potter, Saltzman, Leonard and Sten. In four months and over 300 posts, we've mentioned Sam Adams just three times--and two of those times it was other people talking about him, not us.

Which is a shame, because--even us het guys can admit--he's hands down the most photogenic and image ready guy in the building, even when he's spreading tar. Sten is the longstanding "wonder boy" of the Council, but in the dawn of his third term he's quickly approaching grizzled old-timer (even if his face still couldn't hold a beard if you used velcro). The real future promise is in fact with Adams, who won an extremely energized and spirited race against Nick Fish in 2004, coming back in the general after nearly losing outright in the primary.

As a protege' of the iconic Vera Katz, and emblematic of the young, professional, increasingly gay-friendly subset of the City's growing population, Adams relied on his "Elite Populist" appeal to overtake an overconfident Fish. After Sten, he is the most animated and accessible member of Council, and he is by far the most accomplished blogger and user of technology. He's an unpredictable swing vote, sometimes hanging with Potter and Saltzman, other times in Sten and Leonard's camp depending on the issue, so he's a quiet but key vote during the sessions. Why doesn't his name come up more often?

Beats us, but we promise to keep a wider eye open for the causes and choices Adams supports in the future. As mentioned, he does a terrific job promoting himself and his work, and makes it easy to stay informed on what he's up to with a periodic newsletter, complete with links to further detail on the topic. Here's just a sampling of Adams' plate:
  • Another Wal-Mart in Portland on Hayden Island!?

    Adams pulls no punches on this one; Wal-Mart is bad and he's pledged to stop them.
  • The High Cost of Free Parking

    This is one that's gotten some coverage in the Trib, and as a voluntary program for business districts--one that pays them meter revenue to use however they want--it's a real-world effort to improve the business climate that doesn't force anything on them.
  • Portland Needs a Central City "Retail Czar"

    This is part of another capital idea, although it's primarily one of those "visioning" things at this stage. Taking note of the "pedestrian piazza" model used by Tualatin's Bridgeport Village, there is a notion to think of the downtown shopping core as a big, uncontrolled outdoor mall. The integration required to put it all together will be massive, but even if the full plan isn't realized, a "retail czar" is another move sure to hearten those who think Council is unresponsive to that sector.
  • Bike Signs of the Time

    Another core constituency of Adams' being the cycling crowd, this is a micro expense to further burnish the City's reputation as bikevana. If cars get mileage markers, why wouldn't bikes?
  • Business District Liaison Program Gets Applause and Expands

  • This is my favorite update of all. Last fall Adams assigned staff from his Transportation and Environmental Services bureaus to act as liaisons to indvidual business districts. Eleven districts received them in the original rollout; this month Adams doubled the outreach to 22 business districts. Billed as "one stop shopping" access to help with the myriad of City regs, this is yet another move from Katz's Kommish to establish connections to a business community that claims those connections are broken. Next time you hear a small business owner tell you they don't understand the rules and can't get any help, tell them to check with their district association and see if they have a liaison.