Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on May 22nd, 2009 at 8:54 am
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.
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.
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.”
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).