(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)
The Office of Mayor Charlie Hales put out a statement this morning saying that "traffic fatalities are too high" and "Portlanders must drive sober."
Here are the opening paragraphs:
"The number of people dying in traffic crashes on Portland streets this year is unacceptable according to Mayor Charlie Hales. In office for less than 80 days, the new mayor was alarmed that there have already been 11 traffic fatalities with five of those 11 involving driving under the influence.
“Every person who dies in a crash represents a family and community tragedy. So far in 2013, we’re averaging about one death a week. That’s unacceptable,” Hales said. “Leadership at the Transportation Bureau, Portland Police Bureau and I are alarmed that five people have lost their lives this year related to driving under the influence. Drive sober to save lives. Doing otherwise is illegal and reckless."
At an event last night I was able to grab Mayor Charlies Hales for a few minutes to ask him for his thoughts on the major PBOT budget move that was unveiled yesterday.
At a City Council budget work session, Hales' interim director of PBOT, Toby Widmer, unveiled a plan that would take $7.15 from existing budget items and put it all toward street paving and maintenance. Among the places Widmer "realigned resources" for more paving is a $1.2 million sidewalk project already funded and slated for construction this summer in East Portland on SE 136th between SE Powell and Holgate (about 0.52 miles). Another Widmer realignment victim is PBOT's ADA curb ramp program which is being asked to give up $500,000. According to PBOT sources, that chunk equals about 30% of the entire program (which has annual budget of $1.7 million).
Asked about the proposal last night, Hales distanced himself from it. "It's a bureau budget. It's just a starting point." (more...)
Mayor Charlie Hales has picked Toby Widmer to be his interim director of the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT). Hales asked current PBOT Director Tom Miller to resign his position effective February 4th. In a statement today, Hales said Widmer will serve in the position for six months while a national search for a new director is completed.
Widmer, 61, is a former City staffer. He served as director of the Bureau of Maintenance (which is what PBOT used to be called) prior to retiring from service in 2002. Hales is touting the pick as another sign that he's making street maintenance his main focus. Here's more from Hales' official statement: (more...)
The Willamette Week reported on New Year's Eve that Mayor Charlie Hales has asked Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) Director Tom Miller for his resignation.
According to the Willamette Week, the resignation letter is due on February 4th, which is the day city bureau budgets are due. However, The Oregonian reported today that Miller has already handed in the letter.
What this means for the ongoing budget process (which Miller has spearheaded), remains to be seen (Miller will retain his post until February 4th.) Miller has not made any official comment about the news yet, but we're expecting to hear more from him this week.
This move by Hales isn't a complete surprise; but it seems to have been much more abrupt than expected. Back in March while on the campaign trail, Hales told The Oregonian that he didn't plan on keeping Miller around if he won the election. "This isn't personal," he told The Oregonian, "There are major issues in the bureau, and it needs a fresh and fully qualified leader." (Mayoral candidate Eileen Brady also called for a change in PBOT leadership.)
(Photo: Hales campaign)
Mayor-elect Charlie Hales has chosen Gail Shibley to be his chief of staff. Shibley has a very impressive background of public service ranging from positions at the city, state, and federal levels. I have not met Shibley, but judging from buzz I'm hearing and from local media reaction to the news, it seems she's well-respected and very qualified.
If you care about transportation reform in Portland — and the role bicycling should play in it — you have good reason to be excited about Hales' pick. Shibley is a former staffer at the Portland Bureau of Transportation where she served under then Transportation Commissioner (now Congressman) Earl Blumenauer from 1991-1996. At PBOT, Shibley worked as spokesperson and program manager. In 2001, Shibley worked as director of external communications for the Federal Highway Administration. Since 2003, Shibley has held the title of Sr. Environmental Health Advisor & Public Health Administrator for the state-run Oregon Health Authority. (more...)
more sidewalks, more connections for things that
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)
Mayor-elect Charlie Hales needs to publicly refute a story by KATU-TV that grossly misrepresents his views on transportation policy. Hales has been aware of the misrepresentation for at least two days now, and yet he has not made any public statements to clarify and correct the record.
On Monday night, KATU broadcast (and then later published on their website) a story saying, "Hales plans to shift focus of city transportation budget." The story went on to report that Hales would not make bikes a priority and that he, "wants 60 miles of streets paved and others repaired before there are any more bike projects."
However, Hales' own comments — made to me on two separate occasions and to KATU for their story — said nothing like that at all.
After detailing my opinion on the KATU story yesterday, I have since spoken again with Mayor-elect Hales. (more...)
"The Value of Jobs", a coalition of Portland-area business groups that includes the Portland Business Alliance, has published its http://www.valueofjobs.com/candidate_ques/index.html for the City Council race between incumbent Amanda Fritz and her challenger Mary Nolan; and the mayoral race between Charlie Hales and Jefferson Smith. (more...)
Last month, a who's-who from local active transportation planning and advocacy circles gathered around a table at the Charlie Hales for Mayor campaign headquarters on the central eastside. Hales called the meeting to have a "lively discussion" about walking, bicycling and transit. He asked questions. He took notes. Last night, Hales turned some of what he heard during that discussion into a blog post on the topic titled, Active Transportation for Portland today and tomorrow .
In the blog post, Hales wrote that we need to "further our progression" with active transportation because Portland's progress so far has, "helped our economy, health, fitness, air, congestion and worldwide reputation."
With less than two months before election day, the blog post gives voters a window into how Hales — a former City of Portland Commissioner of Transportation — would handle the bureau if he were elected. Below I'll share excerpts from his post and offer my opinion on what it might mean.
The Charlie Hales campaign has significantly edited a page on their website that explains the mayoral candidate's priorities on transportation.
Since the end of February, Hales has been parroting themes from an article in The Oregonian that blamed the City's (alleged) priority on "bike routes" as a main reason why we don't have enough money to pave and maintain "crumbling roads." The article was the height of bicycle scapegoating and anti-bike sensationalism perpetuated by The Oregonian. The article received swift condemnation from the Portland Mercury, Mayor Sam Adams (who published a lengthy rebuttal) and the Bicycle Transportation Alliance.