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Eileen Brady and Charlie Hales clarify stance on PBOT Director Tom Miller's future

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on April 27th, 2012 at 1:12 pm

Two candidates for Portland mayor — Eileen Brady (L) and Charlie Hales (R) — have commented about the future of PBOT Director Tom Miller (center) (Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Back in March, The Oregonian's Beth Slovic reported that mayoral candidates Eileen Brady and Charlie Hales planned to fire current Portland Bureau of Transportation Director Tom Miller. (The other leading candidate, Jefferson Smith, said he felt it was too soon to talk about hiring and firing and that, "it feels premature to pick and choose among directors.")

"New leadership would establish a different standard. I'd be surprised if people don't understand that."— Neel Pender, Brady campaign advisor

After those revelations in The Oregonian, we contacted Miller for his response. He said he was surprised to hear the candidates' plans, because he hadn't spoken to either of them at length about his job or the issues surrounding transportation in general. He added that he should be judged on his performance, saying that, "That's what I deserve, that's what every bureau director deserves... Anything less would be purely political in nature and that's not good for the city."

I've followed up with both Brady and Hales to better understand why they want to make a leadership change at PBOT. Brady is sticking to her comments (and she's being advised by Sue Keil, who Miller replaced); but the Hales camp has now softened their position.

Eileen Brady told The Oregonian she would fire Miller "on day one." Reached via phone, Brady campaign advisor Neel Pender told me that firing Miller is key to repair the "broken trust" they feels exists at PBOT. Miller was appointed to his position by Mayor Sam Adams (whom he worked for as chief of staff for many years), and Brady's camp feels the lack of transparency and competition around the appointment is not how business should be done. Here's how Pender puts it:

"It's hard to re-instill trust in city government if we don't have transparent processes to hire people to make sure that the public knows we're hiring the most qualified people. If Tom was that person after going through that process, then fine, but that's not what happened. So, new leadership would establish a different standard. I'd be surprised if people don't understand that."

Pender added that a Brady administration would open PBOT Director position up to a competitive search process.

"Yes she [former PBOT Director Sue Keil] is an advisor; but any insinuation that she was advocating for Tom Miller to be replaced, would be categorically false."
— Neel Pender, Brady campaign advisor

After hearing from sources that Brady planned to replace Miller with former PBOT director Sue Keil (who left in retirement), and that Keil was advising Brady on transportation policy, I asked Pender if it was true.

Pender initially dodged the question, saying instead that there are "a lot of people" around the Brady campaign who offer advice on issues. He acknowledged that Keil and Brady had a meeting together and that Keil is a supporter but that he, "doesn't know how actively engaged she is in the campaign."

After we hung up, Pender called back a few minutes later to say, yes, Keil is an official advisor to the Brady campaign, but that any insinuation she was advocating for Tom Miller to be replaced would be "categorically false." Pender added that mayors don't have many "levers of control" and to the extent they have at-will positions, "You want to hire people that share your principles."

"It's hard to be clear on this decision if you're not actually in the job working with him yet. 'Fire' is a bit extreme. That's not who Charlie is."
— Jessica Moskovitz, Hales campaign manager

I have also heard back from Charlie Hales. Last month he told The Oregonian that PBOT, "needs a fresh face and a fully qualified leader." Today he clarified that, unlike Brady, he wouldn't look to do it on day one; but that he too feels the appointment of Miller to PBOT's top job without a competitive, national search, was a mistake.

"I firmly believe that there must be a change of process," wrote Hales via email today. "As Mayor, I will insist that no one is hired to direct the city's bureaus without a national search among top professionals in the field."

Hales has made repaving roads a top campaign issue, and he says further reasoning for his belief Miller might not be a good fit atop PBOT is that, "Tom, himself, has said that he would not wish to continue if the city were to take a roads-first direction."

It's clear by Hales' statements that he wants PBOT to take a more "roads first direction" than Miller is taking them and he's uncomfortable with how Adams appointed Miller; but he still didn't answer the question as to whether or not he'd actually fire Miller if he's elected. Reached on the phone a few minutes ago to clarify that, Hales campaign manager Jessica Moskovitz said her impression is that, "Charlie and Jeff [Jefferson Smith] are much closer on this; but that it's a good practice to re-hire [once a new mayor comes in]."

"The fact of the matter is," Moskovitz continued, "It's hard to be clear on this decision if you're not actually in the job working with him yet. 'Fire' is a bit extreme. That's not who Charlie is." While not prepared to say if Hales would let Miller go or not, Moskovitz insinuated that given Miller and Hales' different views on the direction of PBOT, Miller might simply resign.

— For more on how the mayoral candidates stand on bicycling issues, browse our Race for Mayor 2012 archives.

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Comments
  • Nick April 27, 2012 at 1:20 pm

    So Hales is effectively describing his direction as "roads first"? What a turn off...

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) April 27, 2012 at 1:31 pm

      Right. That's basically his campaign mantra when transportation comes up. Not only is he going to bat big-time for "paving more streets" but, as he says above, he is drawing a difference between his approach and what he perceives as Tom Miller's approach. Very interesting.

      Personally, I think the entire paving conversation is ridiculous and mostly a political/media circus issue. Yes, it a major frickin' issue and it's crazy how bad the roads have gotten... But the public/media conversation is all about blaming politicians and "pet projects" like biking when the real problem is that we do not glean enough money out of the system to keep up with the damage. It's also conveniently absent that the reason the system is so expensive is that we drive on it waaaay too much.

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      • Nick April 27, 2012 at 1:43 pm

        I guess I must just not have been paying enough attention, but he seemed more vague about it until now. After all, he's such a proponent of rail. But reading "roads first" really hit me over the head.

        I'm mostly unconvinced by complaints about pavement quality. It just seems like such a lame, first world problem. Don't we have bigger fish to fry, like climate change, air pollution, traffic deaths, health care costs, drug imprisonment, etc.? I could probably name a hundred things that tangibly harm people more than bad pavement.

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        • Mary Nichols April 27, 2012 at 2:20 pm

          Nick, I agree there are lots of major issues in this world, but this race is for the Mayor of Portland! Many of the issues you listed require federal attention. Roads are critical for driving, biking, and freight. I like riding my bike on a paved road! When Charlie was city commissioner, he paved 5 times the roads at ½ today’s proposed budget. People expect safe, paved roads from their city. Most of bikers in Portland ride on the roads. Roads first doesn't mean cars first!!

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          • 9watts April 27, 2012 at 8:20 pm

            "Roads first doesn't mean cars first!!"
            I'm going to disagree with you on that, just as I disagreed with David Feldman earlier in another discussion.
            Smoother pavement is an appeasement of people in cars who are impatient to drive faster. People riding bikes don't need cars going faster. They need cars to go slower, all else being equal. The only time I feel that potholes are a danger to me on a bike is if I'm biking at night and the batteries on my light are going out and I can't see one. Otherwise it is generally pretty easy to spot them and go around. Besides the potholes are mostly not where we (are supposed to) bike because bikes don't cause damage to roads that needs fixing. Cars do that where they tend to drive.

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            • Mary Nichols April 27, 2012 at 10:32 pm

              9watts,
              You wrote: "Smoother pavement is an appeasement of people in cars who are impatient to drive faster. People riding bikes don't need cars going faster. They need cars to go slower, all else being equal."
              I respectfully disagree with this- I have six small children and we bike as often as possible as a family. I so appreciate smooth pavement when I'm on a bike. I am watching out for many small children who are not so aware when there are potholes or it turns into non-paved areas. It's critical to my family's safety that the roads are smooth and safe. I understand this is a bike-centric blog. I love to bike, my husband bike commutes and we do as many family bike outings as possible. The reality is, there are many people in PDX who do not bike, but drive cars (for many reasons!). I rely on my car a lot. It gets me to far-away soccer matches, Costo and many other places that I cannot realistically bike with a family of eight. I want to feel safe on the road when I am in my car, on a bike, and when I'm using public transportation. Charlie thinks big picture. Yes, he bike commutes and because of his work as City Commissioner, is one of the reasons Portland is always ranked as one of the top "Bike Friendly" cities in the nation. He needs to make sure ALL of Portland is represented, not just bikers.
              ~Mary

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              • 9watts April 27, 2012 at 10:56 pm

                All I can say is that if smooth asphalt is a requirement we're in more trouble than I thought.
                Smooth asphalt is going the way of the car, and cheap gasoline, and a lot of other comforts we've gotten used to. It isn't just that we can't figure out how to afford to maintain our infrastructure, it is that we're discovering too late that the resources this maintenance requires are getting more difficult to obtain and we're going to find it harder and harder to justify digging up and burning all this stuff. All of it is going away, not because I want to ruin anyone's fun, but because we now live in what Herman Daly calls a 'full world,' even though our economic models assume an empty world. http://www.fs.fed.us/eco/eco-watch/ew920714

                One of the joys for me of bikes and biking is that they do not require much of anything besides a willing rider. The future of biking appears bright to me because unlike cars it is not tightly coupled with or dependent on all these other systems. I have biked hundreds, probably thousands, of miles on surfaces that were not smooth pavement.

                I'll concede that smooth pavement is nice. When I ride my bike around town I seek out the smooth pavement as much as the next person. It is nice in the way that a perfect day like last Saturday is nice, or a vacation with one's family is nice. But just because these things are nice doesn't mean we're entitled to them, or can afford them indefinitely, or even require them to lead happy, fulfilled lives.

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                • Machu Picchu April 28, 2012 at 8:38 am

                  I keep reading references in comments on this site suggesting that motor vehicles will meet their demise as fossil fuel becomes unavailable for practical purposes. Now it seems that a paved roadway has been depicted as the next domino to fall. I just don't buy it. Individuals may be able to get around quite easily on a bike as the paved roads become bumpy tracks, but the thousand other achievements that motorized travel and transport have made possible will go by the wayside at the same time. I'm afraid the majority of people will not be willing to revert to the kind of labor-intensive, self-reliant lifestyle that abandoning motor transport would demand. Not while there was a single option available. I mean, there would be no semblance of Portland for BikePortland.org to operate in without trucks, trains and ships to bring us our laptops, bicycles, spools of high-voltage power lines, et cetera. And if you think ONLY cars are going away, I can't imagine that the majority of drivers are going to abandon the personal motor vehicle, while other modes are demonstrating that it can be done with electricity or other alternatives.

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                • 9watts April 28, 2012 at 8:55 am

                  "I'm afraid the majority of people will not be willing to revert to the kind of labor-intensive, self-reliant lifestyle that abandoning motor transport would demand. Not while there was a single option available."

                  Machu Picchu,
                  I do think it is all going to go away in our lifetimes, electric cars too. I am an optimist, and am convinced that we'll find thousands of creative ways to solve these problems, but most of them I expect to be based on human power.

                  The analogy of Joplin, Missouri is I think instructive. On May 21, 2011 few in Joplin would likely have *been willing* to give up their car/house/life if you'd asked them. And yet the next day it was all gone. The end of fossil fuels won't in most cases likely proceed with such violence and suddenness, but the overall effect may be similar: it won't go away because we've decided to let it go; rather the support pillars of our system will get kicked out from under it and we'll be surprised how little say we had in the matter.

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            • wsbob April 28, 2012 at 1:51 am

              You're blaming cars for causing damage to roads?

              From this recent bikeportland story: ' In Clackamas County, bikes cause 'considerable' road damage '

              ...some readers may recall this comment by Kenji: http://bikeportland.org/2012/03/01/in-clackamas-county-bikes-cause-considerable-road-damage-68011#comment-2605244

              Part of that comment: " .... ""Typically, a truck will carry 10 times as much weight per axle as a car, and hence that truck will do 1000 times as much damage to the road (per axle). For practical purposes, road damage is done by trucks, not cars.""- Economics of the Wheel: The Costs of Cars and Drivers ..."

              As to whether people traveling by bike in urban areas need smooth pavement....Yes, they probably do. Even with good lights and sharp eyes, dodging potholes isn't fun except maybe for people seeking a daredevil adventure. I'd just as soon ride a skinny tire road bike rather than some big tire full suspension hybrid. Pothole filled roads would probably put the kibosh on swift travel by road bike.

              Even though it's pavement, some people whether traveling in a car or on a bike, seem to dislike the economical alternative to smooth pavement...chipseal. Eileen Brady is said to ride bikes quite a lot...I wonder how she feels about traveling on roads paved with chipseal.

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              • 9watts April 28, 2012 at 7:23 am

                Fine, 'cars with studded tires and trucks and buses cause a disproportionate amount of the damage to our roads.'

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              • Ethan April 30, 2012 at 10:24 am

                I call BS on that. Studded snow tires exponentially increase the damage done by motor vehicles.

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          • pdxmike April 28, 2012 at 10:41 am

            Mary are you sure about that claim about dollars and miles?

            I only saw it in an ad and his other one has been pulled from the air for being false claims (according to Politifact.)

            See the analysis of that fact checking here: http://www.blueoregon.com/2012/04/charlie-hales-pulls-tv-ad-after-politifact-calls-claim-schools-flat-wrong/

            I hope you've got a source other than a paid & poll driven television ad.

            If so, please share. If not, please remember that even in the blogosphere facts matter.

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      • Fred Lifton April 27, 2012 at 4:16 pm

        And we especially drive on it "waaay too much" with freakin' ridiculous, wholly unnecessary and largely unsafe studded tires.

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  • Chad Berkley April 27, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    I don't know if Hales deserves the (R) next to his name in the photo caption above, but Brady definitely does. Not much (L) about her. Jefferson Smith seems to be the only one in this race who makes decisions based on rationality instead of political tides.

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  • Steve B April 27, 2012 at 1:34 pm

    Wow, that is some frightening information about Brady's campaign. Sounds like she would push PBOT back into the stone age.

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  • craig harlow April 27, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    "Roads first". Thanks Charlie for clarifying.

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  • oskarbaanks April 27, 2012 at 1:53 pm

    E.B. two thumbs down, two thumbs down!!

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  • Rol April 27, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    If I read that right, "roads first" is part of Jonathan's interpretation, not a literal quote. (Though it's obvious that's the general gist of Hales' position.)

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) April 27, 2012 at 2:13 pm

      Read that again Rol. Hales used "Roads first." It's his main transportation push in the campaign.

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      • Elliot April 27, 2012 at 2:22 pm

        The line in the article is:

        "It's clear by Hales' statements that he wants PBOT to take a more "roads first direction" than Miller is taking them and he's uncomfortable with how Adams appointed Miller."

        I'll be honest, Jonathan: it really looks like you're cherry-picking here. Can you please provide the context of that quote?

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        • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) April 27, 2012 at 2:32 pm

          3rd paragraph from the end:

          "Hales has made repaving roads a top campaign issue, and he says further reasoning for his belief Miller might not be a good fit atop PBOT is that, "Tom, himself, has said that he would not wish to continue if the city were to take a roads-first direction."

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          • Elliot April 27, 2012 at 3:04 pm

            Thanks for connecting the dots there, it wasn't clear where the first instance of that quote was coming from.

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  • Elliot April 27, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    I know BikePortland.org is about bikes, but I think it's a mistake to evaluate candidates positions on the transportation bureau director in a vacuum. There are larger trends about mayoral appointments should to be considered.

    The interview with Neel Pender, Brady's campaign advisor, alludes to this. If Brady or Hales want to bring in an bureau director whose ideals match their own, well, that's just one aspect of how mayors carry out their agenda once they're in office. We may agree or disagree with the decision based on whether we agree with the mayor or director's values, but the practice itself is not new.

    Sam gave Tom Miller the PBOT job for exactly this reason. Sam and other mayors before him replaced plenty of bureau directors because of familiarity and agreement, not necessarily for their qualifications. Jonathan, could you look into this issue a bit if you do another article on the subject? Context from other bureau director change-overs would be great.

    I actually appreciate Hales' and Brady's candor on the matter, even if they're just talking about it aggressively to win points with people who dislike Sam. I think Smith is just playing it safe by staying quiet, which is probably the politically correct thing to do.

    I like the transportation policy I've heard Tom Miller since he's been at PBOT, but I don't have any sympathy for him about the threats to his job. He's a smart guy who knew exactly what he was getting into when he took the appointment from Sam, including the prospect of facing a new mayor in 2013.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) April 27, 2012 at 2:28 pm

      Thanks Elliot. You make some really good, and I think, correct points. Yes, Tom knew what he was getting into and yes, it's common for new mayors to clean house and appoint new leaders. But what's interesting is that while both Brady and Hales say they are concerned about the integrity of the hiring process... they have also now added to those concerns.

      Not only does Brady have former PBOT Director Sue Keil as an advisor, (and Keil was not someone who prioritized biking and walking in the slightest), but Pender said they would appoint someone who "shares their principles." What does that have to do with being qualified? See my point?

      And Hales also has now added that his concern about Miller isn't just because of the hiring process, but that Miller isn't paying enough attention to paving.

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      • Elliot April 27, 2012 at 3:04 pm

        I absolutely appreciate this coverage and agree that Brady having Sue Keil advising her on transportation is very telling, considering the tension between her and Miller. Thanks for digging this up.

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  • Jim Lee April 27, 2012 at 2:27 pm

    But Tom rides fixed!

    That is the sine qua non for any replacement!

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  • A.K. April 27, 2012 at 4:45 pm

    Mary Nichols
    When Charlie was city commissioner, he paved 5 times the roads at ½ today’s proposed budget. People expect safe, paved roads from their city. Most of bikers in Portland ride on the roads. Roads first doesn't mean cars first!!
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    I keep hearing that number thrown around.

    Even outside of "bloated, inefficient Government" (which I believe is the insinuation being projected), how much have the cost of raw materials and labor gone up since 2002?

    Answer: quite a bit.

    Not to disparage the guy, but there is NO WAY he will magically make 5x the road paving for the same price happen. No way.

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    • dwainedibbly April 28, 2012 at 11:20 am

      Asphalt is oil. All we need is for the price of oil to drop back to what it was in 2002. And labor costs to drop, and healthcare costs to drop, etc, etc.

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      • Machu Picchu April 28, 2012 at 1:22 pm

        Asphalt is not the only paving material available. Like gasoline as a motor vehicle fuel, it is prevalent due to its historical abundance at a reasonable rate. Like fossil fuels, it is replaceable in my opinion, and I evision both being replaced to preserve their functions way before society abandons all that they have sustained. It's all about energy, and as fossil fuel becomes less and less sustainable, the world still clamors for more and more energy.

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  • Neel Pender April 27, 2012 at 5:19 pm

    Jonathon,

    Elliot's comments are far more accurate than your post. I clearly stated to you that one of the few levers that Mayors have is to hire people that will help enact their agenda, i.e. shares "the principles" of the elected official (not an individual supporter and clearly not Ms. Keil, a long time public servant, who you seem to want to villify). No one has anything against Tom personally. You are missing the big picture entirely. If we want the whole city to embrace investments in all modes of transportation infrastructure, one critical first step to be transparent (to the public) in our hiring -- so that whomever is hired has not only the full faith and confidence of the mayor, but also the employees he or she manages. I would think any bureau director would want that type of empowerment. That's how healthy organizations with strong, effective managers operate. It's also the way that we make sure that qualified candidates from communities of color have a fair opportunity to apply.

    The surprise is how far you're bending over backwards to defend a non-competitive appointment to a top job. Would you be equally alarmed if Sam had appointed someone who you didn't think shared your values and then Hales / Brady want to replace the for the exact same reasons? You get to write whatever you want on your blog, but let's at least try to be intellectually honest.

    Best,

    Neel

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) April 27, 2012 at 5:25 pm

      Thanks for he comment Neel,

      I'm not trying to vilify anyone nor am I bending over backwards to defend the appointment. Those are your perceptions, but those are not the reality. Keil's record speaks for itself, as does everyone's around this issue. I just want to make that clear. I'd share more thoughts but I'm at an event and typing on my phone.

      Thanks.

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      • John R. April 27, 2012 at 6:16 pm

        As much as I admire both this site and your coverage, it feels that when it comes to politics that you are not objective. Your own perception of yourself might just not be accurate. That is your right, but clarity about your own advocacy vs. "to inform and inspire" would be a good thing.

        To be clear, I am no supporter of Brady. Regardless, whether coverage of Miller, Metro, Occupy, or this race your biases show (at least to me). It would be helpful to just be open about them. Or maybe not, which is your right as well.

        I will still appreciate the opportunity to read all of the good news shared on this blog.

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  • Neel Pender April 27, 2012 at 5:35 pm

    Eilliot,

    Sue Keil is not an advisor to the campaign. She is a supporter of Eileen's along with thousands of other Portlanders. Many people inside and outside city government have given advice on transportation related issues including Sue, but to imply that her input carries a particular weight is wrong and intentionally misleading. The great thing about Eileen is she tries to get input from all perspectives before making big decisions -- the same is true in transportation related issues. Again, this is not about personalities (which is silly and indicative of corrosive insider politics) - it's about restoring basic trust in our public institutions so we can engage more of the public and our actions and investments yield a more dynamic, diverse, sustainable and more equitable Portland.

    Thanks,

    Neel

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    • Tonya April 27, 2012 at 6:27 pm

      First you say she isn't, then you say she is, and now you're back to isn't. Which is it? Hard to accuse Jonathan of being misleading when he can't get a straightforward answer from your campaign.

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      • Neel Pender April 28, 2012 at 11:34 am

        Tonya:

        Here are some facts:

        1) I never said the key to restoring trust to fire Tom Miller. Jonathon chose to present it this way to suit his false premise.

        2) Jonathon's claim that Eileen plans to replace Tom Miller with Sue Keil is entirely baseless - made up out of whole cloth. Jonathon's 'sources' are nothing more than self serving rumors. Such a replacement would defy the idea of an open, competitive process...hello.

        3) I never "dodged a question." Jonathon wanted me to support his premise about Keil and I didn't because it's not true. I couldn't have been more clear that Sue is one of many voices including members of the bicycle community who have advised Eileen on transportation related issues. Is Sue a suppoter - yes. Has she offered advice - a little. Is she an 'official advisor' - no. Does she have any formal role in the campaign - no.

        4) I called back because it was clear the direction Jonathon was taking and the point was not to clarify her role as an "official advisor" but that any insinuation made that Keil had anything to do with Eileen's position on the bureau director was false. Again the point is about a true commitment to reinforcing and fostering a culture of trust in city government & services -- which is a very good thing for the bicycle community.

        Thanks for asking the question.

        Neel

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        • Tony Fuentes April 28, 2012 at 2:00 pm

          Mr. Pender,

          It may be helpful for you to clarify what your role is in the Brady campaign. Calling back Mr. Maus to clarify Ms. Kiel's role and as well as your additional clarifications offered in this comment chain doesn't provide a very clear picture.

          What authority do you have within the Brady campaign? What statements by you are speaking on behalf of the campaign versus yourself? What is the chain of command within the Brady campaign and where do you reside within it? and finally, what do you and/or the campaign define as being an "advisor" versus "official advisor" versus "supporter"?

          All the best,

          Tony Fuentes

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          • Neel Pender April 28, 2012 at 2:55 pm

            Thanks Tony. As alluded to in the article, I'm on the campaign staff as a senior advisor to Eileen's campaign. I'm an official spokesperson for the campaign. I make a distinction between general advice and formal advisor. On a campaign, you get a lot of advice every day. This is different than being an internal or designated advisor - contributing to some particular policy area. Ms. Keil does not now nor has she ever had any such role. Hope that clarifies. I'm bowing out of this discussion.

            Best,

            Neel

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            • Tony Fuentes April 28, 2012 at 3:55 pm

              Thanks Neel.

              That does provide some clarifification on Ms. Kiel's official role.

              It also makes it clear that your statements are officially on behalf of the Brady campaign in your role as spokesperson and senior advisor. Thus your comments should be considered Ms. Brady's positon and opinion on this matter.

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        • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) April 30, 2012 at 9:07 am

          Neel,

          Wow. I appreciate your attempt to clean up your statements. Readers, please see my responses below:

          1) I never said the key to restoring trust to fire Tom Miller. Jonathon chose to present it this way to suit his false premise.

          Neel, you and Eileen have made it crystal clear that the public statements that you would fire Tom Miller have everything to do with restoring trust at the City. Facts are: 1) Brady plans to fire Tom Miller "on day one" 2) Main reason for doing this is instill more trust/transparency at the City. Therefore, I believe it's fair to draw a line between the firing of Miller and Brady's expectation that it will restore trust among the public at PBOT.

          2) Jonathon's claim that Eileen plans to replace Tom Miller with Sue Keil is entirely baseless - made up out of whole cloth. Jonathon's 'sources' are nothing more than self serving rumors. Such a replacement would defy the idea of an open, competitive process...hello.

          This statement by you makes it clear you are being overly defensive and drawing conclusions that do not exist in reality. Nowhere in my story did I ever make that claim. Please re-read the story. Oh, and I don't make up sources.

          3) I never "dodged a question." Jonathon wanted me to support his premise about Keil and I didn't because it's not true. I couldn't have been more clear that Sue is one of many voices including members of the bicycle community who have advised Eileen on transportation related issues. Is Sue a suppoter - yes. Has she offered advice - a little. Is she an 'official advisor' - no. Does she have any formal role in the campaign - no.

          Neel. I asked you a yes or no question, you did not give me one. That is the definition of dodging a question. Again. The fact is that Sue Keil is an advisor to Eileen on transportation issues. That's all we wanted to know and I'm glad we finally found that out (although it didn't have to be this messy!).

          4) I called back because it was clear the direction Jonathon was taking and the point was not to clarify her role as an "official advisor" but that any insinuation made that Keil had anything to do with Eileen's position on the bureau director was false. Again the point is about a true commitment to reinforcing and fostering a culture of trust in city government & services -- which is a very good thing for the bicycle community.

          You called me back and said, "Yes, she's an advisor" after first saying you weren't sure and/or she was just a "supporter." I would call that an attempt to clarify.

          Neel. It's one thing to disagree with how I write a story; but I take my reputation very seriously and I do not appreciate your attempts to insult me and my work.

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        • Andrew April 30, 2012 at 11:36 am

          "Jonathan."

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    • middle of the road guy April 28, 2012 at 11:33 am

      Brady really strikes me as a "I know what's best for you" liberal.

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      • spare_wheel April 29, 2012 at 7:09 pm

        meh.

        like carter, brady would have been considered right wing in the 70s. the liberal wing of the democratic party is dead. there is no left in the usa --- just corporate party D and corporate party R.

        and while Smith does seem to lean progressive IMO he would be considered a run of the mill centrist in yurp.

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      • Perry April 30, 2012 at 12:53 pm

        Really? She strikes me as a Republican, hiding in a hippy suit.

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  • wsbob April 27, 2012 at 8:33 pm

    Enough already with the 'roads first' go-round. None of the candidates seem to have expressed whatever objections they may have, if they have any, to Tom Miller's actual work in PBOT. They've only pointed out objections to the way he was hired, which by now has come to sound like a simple but poor excuse to give him the boot once the new mayor is elected.

    The bigger question than the 'roads first' issue, since it is true that all modes of transportation need good roads, is if indeed the new mayor intends to prioritize general road paving and repair, what type and degree of support from within PBOT for active transportation infrastructure is each of the candidates prepared to direct their attention to?

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  • Jeffrey Bernards April 28, 2012 at 8:53 am

    I talked with Eileen, last night, about endorsing the Ban Studded Tire Initiative, I got a no response. Studded tires cut road life in half in Portland. If your going to fix the roads, lets stop wrecking them first, that's free money. Charlie enthusiastically endorsed the campaign weeks ago when asked. Jefferson, as a former legislators, knows the Les Schwab has been the driving force blocking all legislation regarding studded tire use. You think he who would support the issue based just on that. I didn't get an endorsement from him either last night. There's no new money for their ambitious road/bike paving goals, saving money shows concern not just for money but for the huge environmental impact studded tires have on the environment.

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  • Machu Picchu April 28, 2012 at 9:05 am

    I just want to add (with the references to "smooth roads" and "chipseal" as an alternative) that I think some are confusing just a smooth top surface of the pavement, with the area's more troubling problem, which is that maintenance of all kinds has been neglected, with the result of road infrastructure coming undone. "Bumpy" or "rough" road surfaces are just one manifestation of this. Dirt roads need to be graded, bridges can't be made out of dirt, wooden bridges need maintenance and don't last, and more than anything I can think of: drainage systems must work and be maintained, (even if it's just ditches and culverts) or the whole road network is headed for the river. Most of the places where you see cracks in the pavement, the problem goes beyond the surface that you drive or ride on.
    Wow. What a rant. Sorry. My point is that "roads first" wouldn't necessarily mean: "Make the surface smooth so cars can go faster", although I kow that's what it means to a lot of people, whether they admit it or not. Rather, it could be a very smart priority to salvage what we may all value (maybe more than some realize) before it becomes even more of a mess.

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    • 9watts April 28, 2012 at 9:10 am

      I completely concur. We would do well to take care of our roads in all the ways you describe.

      But, we had roads for millennia before fossil fuels and we'll have roads again/still once they're no longer affordable. But pretending like none of these changes concern us, that asphalt and the machinery for processing, transporting and applying it will always be ready at hand, isn't a recipe for getting there from here.

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      • Machu Picchu April 28, 2012 at 1:34 pm

        Thanks for the reasonable and thoughtful response to my critique, 9watts. Don't mistake my sense for the survival of the quality road, though, as an endorsement for the survival of asphalt or any fossil-fuel-based process. My recent response to dwainedibbly mentions this. The idea that cars=gas=asphalt=energy domino theory (that I know is oversimplifying your position) is what strikes me as unlikely. I don't claim to know, but I would not argue with you that oil may become unavailable for practical purposes within our lifetime, but I don't think that means we'll be back to pre-car, third world lifestyles. And I can't avoid thinking that coal, steam, woodburning and animal labor all stand, historically, between the modern, power-everything world, and the part where we all pulled our own weight - literally.

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        • 9watts April 28, 2012 at 2:15 pm

          "but I don't think that means we'll be back to pre-car, third world lifestyles. And I can't avoid thinking that coal, steam, woodburning and animal labor all stand, historically, between the modern, power-everything world, and the part where we all pulled our own weight - literally."

          Agreed. It is and will no doubt be much more complex and interesting than my shorthand suggests. But... I also wouldn't equate human power with 'pre-car, third world lifestyles.' What is going on around this town with pedal powered commercial activity and -freight hauling is exciting, promising, and still in its infancy. The potentials are in my view endless and endlessly inspiring. Still human powered, but I don't think it is fair to tar it with labels like 'third world' just yet.
          And 'post-car' might be more apt. Remember, we're afraid of the past in this country; of going backwards, of dishonoring the Idea of Progress by rediscovering what once worked well.

          As for wood, steam, coal, sure. Those did succeed each other in a familiar fashion. Wood and animal power are variations on the theme we'll no doubt see more of (both are solar power based). But since this is a bike blog I tend to slight those, not because I think they're out of the question but because the mindset that refuses to acknowledge bikes as serious adult transportation I suspect will have even greater difficulty hearing about horses and wood gasification. But maybe not?

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          • Machu Picchu April 28, 2012 at 2:37 pm

            Good points about human-powered alternatives to current models and modes. I follow these developments as well, and am inspired by them, but at the same time I am worried that they represent the tiny minority of concerned and motivated people who are trying to find a better way. I am concerned that the majority will embrace a return to more polluting, regressive modes and models. While I agree that many are afraid of the past, there are many who are deathly afraid of change to the unknown. I personally would embrace a model with a version of the early twentieth century trains to the neighborhoods, with bicycles to fill in the gaps between that and walking. I fantasize about an apocalypse that would force us all to take more responsibility for our lifestyles, to earn them a little more, maybe. I have this fear, though, that we will see wood/weed/dead squirrel-burning cars honking at the bakfiets to get the hell out of the way, before my neo-retro utopia appears.

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    • wsbob April 28, 2012 at 7:38 pm

      General deterioration of roads and their underlying structure, rather than roads simply losing their smooth surface, is a fairly well reported issue that I would expect the general public consequently is familiarity with.

      Because it's apparently a cheaper road application than the more expensive smooth top surface application, that still helps forestall serious damage to the underlying structure of streets and roads as does, perhaps Portland's new mayor will approve a transportation bureau head that will choose to use chipseal as part of the 'roads first' priority being spoken of by the Portland mayoral candidates.

      If so, not particularly good news for people traveling by bike.

      People, particularly as taxpayers, know the roads are in danger of falling apart, and that it's likely to cost more than they'd like to pay, for the roads to be fixed. This dilemma is of course, what the mayoral candidates are each struggling to grapple with in their effort to be elected. It would seem the candidates have considered that the majority of the electorate will respond well to dropping efforts to develop bike infrastructure, in favor of getting the roads fixed up.

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      • Machu Picchu April 28, 2012 at 8:28 pm

        Chipseal is a good way to forestall an overlay, but doesn't do much for a road that has subgrade issues and drainage issues and needs to be rebuilt, which I think is the " fairly well reported issue that I would expect the general public consequently is familiarity [sic] with" that you are referring to.

        After a rough sweep and wearing in by traffic for a few days, followed by a final sweep, chipseal is not something you'd want to fall of your bike and slide on, but it's not too bad to ride on at all. For skateboarding it's almost a show-stopper, though.

        Did I miss the part where someone was proposing chipseal? I just saw you suggest "what if?", and since you are suggesting that everyone is aware of what the problem really is, it doesn't seem that likely to me that we need to worry about losing bike facility funding to chipseal.

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        • wsbob April 29, 2012 at 12:58 am

          The point is, that to find more funds for road subgrade issues, road departments may increasingly come to find themselves having to opt for the more economical but rougher chipseal surfacing rather than the smoother but more expensive surface.

          It's my understanding that because of budget constraints, county roads in need of surfacing have increasingly come to be surfaced using chipseal rather than smooth surface asphalt. I'm trying to recollect where I read discussion about this transition; think it may have been in a portland bikeforums thread not so long ago.

          People there expressed in no uncertain terms that they were not happy with the rough ride of chipseal. They named a number of roads that formerly had the smooth surface but subsequently had been changed to chipseal. When traveling over chipseal in a vehicle, the experience is also inferior to that over the smoother surface, it being a lot noisier.

          In your last sentence, it's not clear what point you're trying to make.

          Road repair in general is what travel infrastructure for biking could possibly be lost to with the next Portland mayor's administration. That wouldn't be a good thing, but it's what the candidates have seemed to consistently suggest. Not one of them has seemed to want to come forward and state that an increase infrastructure supporting travel by bike is essential to help resolve problems Portland has with traffic congestion on its streets and roads.

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  • Evan Manvel April 28, 2012 at 10:33 am

    I don't really understand how candidates are promising to fire people that they've never worked with. That sort of judgment through rumor, rather than experience, worries me, and would worry me if I were a city employee.

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  • are April 28, 2012 at 1:48 pm

    is there some reason we are focusing only on these three candidates?

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  • Machu Picchu April 28, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    "The analogy of Joplin, Missouri is I think instructive. On May 21, 2011 few in Joplin would likely have *been willing* to give up their car/house/life if you'd asked them. And yet the next day it was all gone. The end of fossil fuels won't in most cases likely proceed with such violence and suddenness, but the overall effect may be similar: it won't go away because we've decided to let it go; rather the support pillars of our system will get kicked out from under it and we'll be surprised how little say we had in the matter." - 9watts

    To use this analogy to illustrate my point, I would say visit Joplin, Missouri in five years, and see how much evidence there is that people have embraced a culture that is less power-driven and paved than the rest of the country. If you mean to point out that if it happened to all of us at once, that we wouldn't have the resources of the rest of the world to draw from, I would point out that tornadoes destroy everything in their path, and that is not what we're talking about with the demise or growing impracticality of oil. It just removes a fuel and manufacturing product. We have put too many eggs in this basket, to be sure, to easily solve the problem, but it is still a more isolated and slow-approaching problem than "Dude, where's my city".

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    • 9watts April 28, 2012 at 2:28 pm

      the Joplin, MO analogy is not perfect I admit. But the gist of it for me is that in the end this isn't something we're going to get to decide. We in the US are used be being in charge, throwing our weight around on the world stage, and getting our way. 'How did our oil get under their sand?, etc.' But that is ending, along with the physical availability of cheap resources we've also gotten used to. The degree to which we can find substitutes (for cheap oil, clean water, stable atmosphere, predictable weather, etc.) is subject to debate, but I'm not holding my breath.

      In short, the future may be utterly unlike what we've grown accustomed to.

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    • 9watts April 28, 2012 at 2:31 pm

      "with the demise or growing impracticality of oil. It just removes a fuel and manufacturing product."
      Some would argue that oil is quite unlike most other inputs to our economy. That we know less well how to get along without oil than with just about any other input. That if you take away cheap oil everything can quickly grind to a halt, and I mean everything (except, perhaps, bicycle traffic).

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      • Machu Picchu April 28, 2012 at 2:57 pm

        Agreed. And to your previous comment, as well. Per your earlier statement, you are an optimist, and I am probably the opposite. I would not encourage you to think more like me, I guess I am looking for more convincing to think like you. You have done a good job today. Thanks for the discussion.

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  • Ethan April 30, 2012 at 9:55 am

    Brady is no liberal, at least not by Portland standards. Close your eyes and imagine you are one of your conservative friends . . . see if she says anything that upsets your new persona . . . she does not. Fake liberal. Any time she says "I'm an environmentalist" she is about to say something that really contradicts that.

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  • john April 30, 2012 at 10:44 am

    Evan

    Your biases are showing. You know that Tom Miller is not a typical city employee. He is an at will appointment, a director of the largest bureau in the city.

    It is not judgment "through rumor," it is judgment through the facts of the Miller hiring. It was an uncompetitive hire, and by any objective standard clearly a patronage appointment. If Miller was not on the same side of the ideological fence as you, you'd be screaming as loudly as anyone. If Miller is so qualified for the position, he should apply through a competitive search process. Hales and Brady realize that they will have a wealth of high quality candidates if they conduct a national search.

    I'm pleased that both Hales and Brady recognize that restoring trust in city government--and ironically enough growing public support for policies to diversify our transportation options--will require transparency and collaboration, not cronyism.

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    • Evan Manvel April 30, 2012 at 6:48 pm

      If they said something like "I'll evaluate all the department managers' performance and make decisions after working with them" then I'd be okay with that.

      The hiring is the past - Miller's a current employee.

      Firing someone because you don't like how the hiring was done seems a chaotic, unproductive approach to trying to rewrite the past.

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  • John Landolfe April 30, 2012 at 11:19 am

    All I know is... Neel Pender misspelled Jonathan Maus's name 11 times.

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    • rider April 30, 2012 at 11:43 am

      That guy really needs a tone check if he's going to be a successful campaign advisory and apparent public spokesperson. His responses make him sound like he's throwing a two-year-old style tantie.

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  • spare_wheel April 30, 2012 at 11:20 am

    "by any objective standard clearly a patronage appointment"

    "will require transparency and collaboration, not cronyism"

    Instead of Sam-baiting for electoral points, Eileen and Charlie could critiqued Miller's job performance.

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  • Nate April 30, 2012 at 10:27 pm

    I am mystified that directors must by appointed at all.

    While Sue married big money after being Ms Oregon, she is nonetheless a likable socialite who is also an extremely well connected Portland elite, a board of the opera/symphony, etc. Then, she somehow managed the PDX environmental lab for a while before being appointed as a transportation director?!? Funny, those first quals almost match EB's.

    BTW, Sue replaced Brant Williams, a solid director with a flawless record, and a loyal workforce; the last good director who was also a highly trained transportation engineer that worked his way up the PDoT ladder and was unfortunately canned the first day Potter took office (that is after Sue had tea with Potters wife after a city club meeting.) Brant is not a lawyer or politician, he is a transportation professional. While he should be welcomed back, Portland lost her chance and he's gone.

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