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Lots of love for Mayor’s budget at community hearing

Posted by on May 22nd, 2009 at 8:54 am

Commissioners Fish and Fritz and
Mayor Adams listen to testimony at
the budget hearing last night.
(Photos © J. Maus)

Given the City’s budget woes and the fact that our Mayor is currently being investigated by the State Attorney General and has been embroiled with an unending stream of negative media attention, you’d think Portlanders would line up for a chance to find fault with him and his budget.

However, at last night’s community budget hearing, it was just the opposite.

Another reporter I chatted with likened it to a “love-in”. One person after another — representing interests ranging from the arts, homeless services, seniors and biking — expressed gratitude and offered their thanks to Adams and his Council colleagues (only Saltzman wasn’t present) for their work on the budget.

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There were some gripes over cuts (people testified for restoring cuts to a afterschool program and the Vision into Action plan), but even those were done respectfully.

Jeff Bernards, the man who founded the Get Lit free bike light program, said he thought the $500,000 for bikes wasn’t nearly enough. Bernards criticized Council’s spending priorities and shared his thoughts about the discrepancy in funding between bikes and other high-profile “extras” like the minor league baseball stadium being proposed in the Lents neighborhood and the Convention Center hotel projects.

Amos Hunter

A handful of people showed up to thank Adams for his newly proposed, $500,000 “Affordable Transportation Fund” (a.k.a. Bike Infrastructure Improvement Fund), and his use of federal stimulus dollars to restore cutbacks to the SmartTrips and Safer Routes to Schools programs as well as bike boulevard implementation.

Amos Hunter, who showed up on a bike, expressed his support and said bike boulevards have a positive impact on his quality of life. Asked why he came to testify Hunter said, “I was inspired when I saw his budget and I feel there’s been a void of positive feedback for the Mayor. I’m proud that he made a stand for bicycle infrastructure and if these things aren’t supported by the bike community Council will dismiss them as not important.”

Jonathan Potkin, wearing bike box green, also
offered his support and gratitude for
bike funding in the Mayor’s budget.

The Bicycle Transportation Alliance helped rally bikers to the hearing and their metro-area advocacy staffer Michelle Poyourow stepped up to the mic with support of the budget as well. Poyourow expressed gratitude for the bike bits in the budget, but she reminded Adams that the $500,000 fund is “relatively small” compared to other expenditures in the transportation budget, but that it’s “a strong start”. “In the future,” said Poyourow, “We’ll ask you to lead us even further toward a city where everyone has access to a safe and affordable way to get around.”

Adams and his top transportation advisors have made it clear that the new bike infrastructure fund (which carved out of Utility License Fees) is just a “down payment” and that it’s expected to grow in the coming years.

Council will vote on the Mayor’s Proposed Budget next Wednesday (5/27).

– Learn more about the Mayor’s budget at PortlandOnline.com. Read The Oregonian’s report on last night’s hearing at OregonLive.com.

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  • Matt Picio May 22, 2009 at 9:04 am

    What about Jeff Bernards’ testimony? (which I believe he posted in the comments to the previous story)

    Jeff has been an outspoken critic of the city’s spending priorities and this budget is no exception. He makes a good case that the city is dedicating a trivial amount towards bikes while allowing much larger amounts to go out after projects that don’t fulfill their promises, get cancelled, or are never realized. In many cases, the beneficiaries never have to pay that money back to the city.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think a dedicated $500k annual funding source for cycling is AWESOME! But despite the upcoming festival, it’s not all roses.

    – Thanks Matt. I’ve added a paragraph about Bernards’ testimony. — Jonathan

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  • amos May 22, 2009 at 9:21 am

    Yes, bicycle facilities are still desperately underfunded, Matt. And I certainly wouldn’t budget a lot of the current projects if it were up to me, but for me yesterday was more about pushing through what little funding we have a chance for right now, rather than complaining about what should have been.

    I have to agree with the handsome gentleman pictured above :)

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  • NEIL FRAEDRICH May 22, 2009 at 9:32 am

    Mr Maus
    Wouldn’t it be nice to have a Emblem of some kind(maybe green in color)to afix to our gear as we ride, to express our Green/Forward Thinking/Cycling Supportive Spirit.
    Just a thought.

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  • Dave May 22, 2009 at 10:13 am

    In a time of budget crunch, to be able to appease so many people with budget issues and to have gotten as much done as they have for cycling-related concerns seems to me to be a pretty major accomplishment.

    I’m sure everyone would love to have more money for the things they are concerned with – with bicycle infrastructure, I think Mayor Adams is right to start off with what, to many of us, might seem like a trivial amount of money, but is enough to get some significant projects done. I also think he’s right that this amount will only continue to increase, because I think he’s right that the demand for and the acceptance of bike-related projects will increase, while the opposition will decrease, as time goes on.

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  • steve May 22, 2009 at 10:57 am

    Cheerleading doesn’t win the game folks. Keep it up though, it is hilarious!

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  • amos May 22, 2009 at 11:01 am

    No, Steve, you’re hilarious.

    Where were you at the hearing? I didn’t see you!

    Oh well, I’m sure the Council will take your internet comments into consideration when they meet to approve the budget.

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  • Dave May 22, 2009 at 11:03 am

    @steve: and calling everyone stupid who you don’t agree with on every single post doesn’t win the game either. if you don’t have anything useful to say, just stop saying anything.

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  • Schrauf May 22, 2009 at 11:09 am

    Amos, I significantly appreciate your comments at the hearing.

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  • amos May 22, 2009 at 11:45 am

    Thanks, Schrauf!

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  • steve May 22, 2009 at 12:06 pm

    I was at the hearing and noticed more critical feedback than Jonathan did. Anyone concerned about that but me? The previous post to this one is also fraught with omission and filled to the brim with the stuff apologists love.

    I think cyclists are doing themselves a disservice by hitching their wagons to the Adams train. Sorry that opinion upsets some of you so much. Maybe you should examine your emotional attachment to a politician. Not always a healthy way of relating to those we entrust with so much power.

    Someone else had to mention Mr. Bernards testimony before it was even reported on here. Anyone honestly think that is an accident?

    Remind me who I called ‘stupid’ again Dave?

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) May 22, 2009 at 12:25 pm

    “Someone else had to mention Mr. Bernards testimony before it was even reported on here. Anyone honestly think that is an accident?”

    steve,

    again, you are here with your conspiracy theory that i omit information and willingly paint things a certain way to further my own secret agenda.

    you’re free to think what you want, but that’s simply not true.

    i am a news publisher with a heart for making this city better by getting more people on bikes.

    the angle i decided to take on this story was the large amount of positive testimony i heard. I’m not the only one who took that away from the hearing.

    and i don’t think it’s a correct characterization to say that folks are “hitching their wagon” to Adams simply because they are supportive of his budget.

    I initially omitted Bernards’ testimony not to hide anything, but because it simply did not end up in my story.

    Yes, Bernards was critical of Adams, but he always is and always has been, and therefore i made a decision about the news value of his testimony. If negative testimony about the budget had been delivered by someone else, in a more effective context, I would have definitely included it.

    However, after thinking more about the story and after seeing Matt’s comment, I decided to publish something about Bernards’ testimony.

    Thanks for your feedback.

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  • bikieboy May 22, 2009 at 12:30 pm

    Steve (#10) “I think cyclists are doing themselves a disservice by hitching their wagons to the Adams train”

    Showing up to testify on behalf of funding bicycling at a budget hearing at which 3 City commissioners besides the Mayor are present hardly qualifies as wagon-hitching, in my mind. From the sound of it, Mr. Bernards made it pretty clear that wasn’t what he was about at all.

    I’m grateful to all of you who took the time last night to express support for bicycling in Portland.

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  • Dave May 22, 2009 at 12:43 pm

    @steve: you never said stupid, but you certainly implied it.

    your second comment was actually marginally constructive, at least more so than “you’re all ridiculous.”

    However, just because we feel some gratitude for what has been done in the city with regard to bikes doesn’t necessarily mean we 1) are Sam Adams fanboys or 2) are somehow delusional in thinking that Portland has reached the peak of bike-friendliness.

    You make a lot of assumptions in your comments, and they often come off as rude and condescending and if you do actually have something useful to say, simply saying it and leaving out the personal insinuations about other commenters would get your points across much better.

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  • Zaphod May 22, 2009 at 12:43 pm

    Would we even be remotely having this conversation if Sho Dozono was in office? I think we’d be fighting big box retail in the urban core or something even more dire. Yes I expect more out of Sam because he is Sam Adams – a wonk who clearly understands and agrees with the cyclists point of view.

    That’s the problem with high expectations I suppose.

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  • steve May 22, 2009 at 12:46 pm

    Observing subtle or overt bias in reporting is pretty far removed from ‘conspiracy theory’ Jonathan. Particularly since a conspiracy would involve more than one person by definition, and I was just critiquing you. ;)

    I would think it impossible to find any journalist not expressing some form of bias when reporting, particularly on issues close to their heart.

    I think your bias is much more pronounced when covering Sam, as compared to your greater body of work. I think boosterism and blind positivism is bad all the way around, so here I am. Others clearly love it, so there they are.

    No biggie, as we all are free to have opinions and share them still right?

    I am not happy with, nor placated by transportation fund crumbs. No matter who is feeding them to me. Others are thrilled, and that has me a bit perplexed. I suppose at least it is sunny outside!

    Thanks for the space you provide for all of us to bounce ideas and thoughts around, Jonathan.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) May 22, 2009 at 12:51 pm

    steve,

    i do appreciate your critiques. from past exchanges i think you realize that already.

    you make some very valid points in your most recent comment. i definitely hear them, will take them in, and will consider them as i continue my coverage of Mayor Adams.

    (and by the way, I think we share some mixed feelings about the “crumbs” this fund represents. i hope to explore that in a future story).

    thanks.

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  • ScottG May 22, 2009 at 1:09 pm

    Thank you to Amos and everyone else who came out to offer support for the bike infrastructure spending in this budget. I hope there are no surprises between now and when the budget is voted on next week.

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  • BURR May 22, 2009 at 5:23 pm

    bike facilities should really take a back seat to motorist education re. sharing the road with other users.

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  • old&slow May 22, 2009 at 6:47 pm

    I feel for you steve, as another person who is probably not welcome here for not thinking Adams is the end all of cycling advocates. While I also appreciate this site I found it pretty funny that while chastised by Jonathan on another post for criticizing him for being an Adams sycophant, he immediately posts a headline about the “Love for Adams”! Responding to another critique for not having anything positive to say, I will say this. I think that most spending on cycling should go to separate bicycle paths. Not cycletracks! The cycletrack Adams is proposing assumes that the person who is reluctant to ride downtown is going to get to the cycletrack. I ride 5000 miles a year in this town, actually like to ride in traffic but my wife is probably typical of most people who we want to get on bikes and is terrified of traffic. We should be spending money on things like the Sullivan Gulch bike path which would get tons of use commuting into and out of downtown. Bike boulevards are also fine, they are user friendly but supporting a guy who wasted 15 million on the tram to nowhere and supports a 4 billion dollar bridge to nowhere and people here seem grateful for a few bones thrown there way is pathetic. I will go away now and leave the mayor worship to the others.

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  • Jeff Bernards May 23, 2009 at 7:57 am

    Negative? If you heard my testimony, I thanked the council for working so hard on the budget and allowing us an opportunity to speak. I merely pointed out the facts, spending $100 million on soccer,for 15 games a year, but then only propose $500,000 for bikes that will be used by the citizens of Portland 365 days year, seems like someone’s priorities are skewed. I’m not picking on Adams, Leonard voted for the stadium fiasco too. Saltzman’s on the fence, I hope he can see the light and not approve the Lents deal. Let baseball & soccer coexist at PGE, it will save us a lot of money.
    After I spoke I received a nice round of applause/support. I was interviewed by channel 6 and put on TV. The Mercury asked for the paper that my speech was written on. I may not have been initially recognized by BikePortland, but I’ve kind of gotten us to it.
    As a citizen I’m able to express my opinion, BikePortland is just reporting the news, I’m making it.

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  • Dave May 23, 2009 at 8:13 am

    @steve: just for the record, I wouldn’t say I’m thrilled with the biking situation in Portland, I would say I’m appreciative that we have a city government that even considers it worthwhile to consider cycling as a valid use of money/time/effort. Looking at many other cities in the U.S., it’s apparent to me that what we get from our city government here in Portland is quite a bit compared to most places, and for that I’m grateful. As I said before, I’m not operating under any delusion that we have somehow arrived at bike utopia or anything, and believe me, I could go on for hours about improvements I think could be made, but at the same time, I’m glad that somebody is doing something. I can see momentum building; maybe slowly, but surely.

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  • [...] Adams referred to as a “very difficult environment.” One proposal (that thankfully did not come to pass) was to trim the city’s spending on Safe Routes to School by [...]

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