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PBOT hires communications chief and new ‘equity and inclusion’ manager

Posted by on July 20th, 2015 at 1:21 pm


John Brady (L) and Zan Gibbs will assume major roles July 27th.
(Photos: Linkedin)

The Portland Bureau of Transportation has announced two major new hires: a Communications Director and an Equity and Inclusion Manager.

Both people should be a big help to PBOT Director Leah Treat and Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick as they press forward with Portland Progress, a two-year workplan launched back in February.

The new Communications Director is John Brady. Brady has an impressive resume that includes stints as a university professor (he has a PhD in political science), journalist, political advisor, speechwriter, and more. Originally from southern California, Brady worked in the office of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa for eight years. During that time his various positions included Housing Policy Coordinator, Transportation Policy Director and Deputy Director of Communications. Most notably, Brady handled the messaging and implementation around L.A.’s citywide bicycle plan.

Brady, whose @JSBinthe503 Twitter account includes retweets of Janette Sadik-Khan, L.A. bike share and affordable housing news, moved to the Portland area in 2013 to take a job with Nike where he’s currently employed as a senior writer in their global communications office.

At PBOT Brady will manage all internal and external messaging as well as the development of a strategic communications plan. The position pays $99,600 per year at the top end (not including benefits).

PBOT will shake up their communications department a bit to make room for Brady. According to spokesman Dylan Rivera, the bureau has eliminated the position held by Diane Dulken. Dulken was hired in May 2013 along with Rivera to handle media relations. Rivera is now the Public Information Officer and will report to Brady. PBOT plans to hire another person to handle public involvement later this year.

In related news, PBOT now has an Equity and Inclusion Manager for the first time ever.

Zan Gibbs has been hired to fill this new position. Gibbs brings, “20 years of experience designing and implementing equity programs and training modules in Portland,” said a statement from PBOT Director Leah Treat. After three years working on the programs side at the Community Cycling Center, Gibbs left in 2012 to train health workers in Rwanda, Africa. After that she worked for non-profits with a focus on training them how to make sure their programs were as inclusive as possible. She most recently worked as Racial Justice Trainer for Western States Center.

At PBOT, Gibbs will be called on as a “technical resource and a leader in advancing equity goals.” As we reported back in February, this is a high-profile position that PBOT says will impact “all areas and functions” of the 750-person bureau.

If you’re curious what exactly PBOT means by “equity,” here’s how they define it as it relates to their Safe Routes to School program:

“… policies that increase the accessibility of transportation choices and their benefits to currently and historically underserved populations, including people of color, people experiencing poverty, people with disabilities, and people who experience language barriers.”

PBOT Director Treat has made equity a priority. She has put together an internal Equity Committee made up of 14 PBOT staffers from each department in the agency.

Gibbs’ position pays $104,280 per year at the top end of the range.

Brady and Gibbs start their new positions on July 27th.

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  • Adam H. July 20, 2015 at 1:31 pm

    Congrats to both of you! Hoping this is a sign of great things to come!

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    • WD July 21, 2015 at 9:22 pm

      It’s kind of a big deal to see a long-lived bureau get two new job descriptions, so suddenly. Nice work PBOT on working to reach out from City Hall!

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  • Todd Boulanger July 20, 2015 at 1:36 pm

    Yes congrats 2x.

    I was thinkin’ of equity as in [transportation] equity ….

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  • J_R July 20, 2015 at 1:37 pm

    It’s hard for me to believe PBOT needs more managers. The fiasco known as the transportation income tax, transportation utility fee, etc. does indicate a need for some clear thinking, which is not necessarily the same as better “messaging.” As for equity, Portland seems to be on track to provide no improvements. Doing nothing is one way of making sure no one is treated inequitably.

    I’d rather have another half dozen HAWK signals or some buffered bike lanes.

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    • 9watts July 20, 2015 at 1:47 pm

      It would be interesting to hear PBOT’s response to J_R’s critique. Maybe Mr. Brady can find time to deputize someone to stop in here (bikeportland) semi-regularly to respond to our questions and concerns. I, for one, would find this useful, both for us, who are interested in these subjects, and for PBOT, as I think this kind of accountability could help them better manage the public’s view of what kind of a job they are doing with our money. And by manage I don’t mean smoke and mirrors but adding their thinking to the conversation so we aren’t always left speculating, why they nixed the sensible Foster-52nd transition, or capitulated to the 28th Ave. businesses get-bikes-to-go-somewhere-else letter.

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      • Nick Falbo July 20, 2015 at 4:44 pm

        I can’t speak for the 28th process, but the Foster plan was over a year long, with monthly neighborhoood-based meetings, multiple open houses and other forms of engagement. If you lived there and looked for info, you’d have a very clear understanding of why the decision went the way it did.

        I like your idea of getting more public staff involvement in the comments here, but it won’t be a replacement to on-the-ground participation and outreach.

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        • 9watts July 20, 2015 at 5:52 pm

          Fair points, Nick. I ‘participated’ remotely via bikeportland, and recall that there was pushback from a few businesses near that junction. My point, and perhaps the 52nd & Foster decision wasn’t the best example, was that PBOT seems at least to some of us to capitulate a little too often, offer too many sacrifices to the Parking Gods. I want to hear their explanation, their best shot at articulating why it made/makes sense to shortchange the bike infrastructure in these specific ways.

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    • paikiala July 20, 2015 at 2:58 pm

      Pedestrian Hybrid Signals (formerly HAWK) cost about $150,000 per intersection.

      Buffered bike lanes cost about $4/foot per buffer, if you have the space, or about $25,000/mile for just one buffer.

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      • gutterbunnybikes July 20, 2015 at 7:26 pm

        So in other words 8 -12 (with bennies) miles of bike paths a year for someone to write speeches and “brand” PDOT, and another whose position is fairly unclear on duties – and could be redundant with other city offices.

        Don’t get me wrong, good luck to the both of them, and congratulations.

        But even I – who doesn’t particularly like most bike lanes, would rather see more paint that payroll.

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        • Eric Leifsdad July 21, 2015 at 10:50 am

          Yeah, the purported duties are important, but equity and inclusion should be the role of every city employee, as should biking to work and maybe driving the speed limit at least while in a city vehicle, PPB included.

          I’ll look forward to seeing the ride-along stories for these two.

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    • wsbob July 20, 2015 at 4:40 pm

      Leah Treat’s the boss, so understandably, she may be finding herself busy enough that it helps to have someone for her to rely on to communicate with the public about what her bureau is doing. Though does the bureau really have a need for both, a communications director, and a public information officer? Seems to be some unnecessary overlap there.

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  • George H. July 20, 2015 at 1:52 pm

    So, PBOT hired an “equity and inclusion” manager when there’s already an Office of Equity and Human Rights, who already provide support to city staff in these areas (at least that’s what their mission statement purports). No wonder we can’t afford to pave roads and are reduced to begging for federal grants for bike infrastructure – we’re hiring redundant management and paying them >$100k salaries.

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  • 9watts July 20, 2015 at 1:53 pm

    “… policies that increase the accessibility of transportation choices and their benefits to currently and historically underserved populations, including people of color, people experiencing poverty, people with disabilities, and people who experience language barriers.”

    Hm. If we think of this in terms of modes, somehow cars don’t strike me as rising to the(this) occasion. I wonder if Ms. Gibbs and the folks at PBOT who attend to bicycling and walking and transit will get along fabulously?

    Asked another way (and echoing J_R’s concerns), do we really need another someone making $100K/yr to do this job that, at least in my imagination, a lot of other someones may already be doing, just perhaps under a slightly different title?

    Alright, here’s my question: how is an equity and inclusion manager similar or different from someone who works on, say, transit or bicycling at PBOT?

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  • Lester Burnham July 20, 2015 at 1:55 pm

    Cush positions, big salaries. Meanwhile many areas of this city are like biking war zones.

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  • Dan July 20, 2015 at 2:40 pm

    Currently underserved people should include children.

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  • Dave July 20, 2015 at 3:24 pm

    Is it possible that the city of Portland should aim to cut it’s number of management positions by X date, or link it to concrete (sorry) results?

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  • Jon M July 20, 2015 at 3:54 pm

    “She most recently worked as Racial Justice Trainer for Western States Center.”

    And there we have it… This hire has nothing to do with improving transportation. It reeks as a sop to radical community organizers that pervert local governments to their whim. Racial justice trainer, eh?

    Neither of these hires and their $100k salaries actually addresses actual transportation issues. Both do, in fact, take resources from real transportation-related activities.

    It is bad enough that the city established a human rights office, but now each department must have it’s own manager and staff? The same for PR – the city has a PR office, but we’re to believe that each department requires it’s own PR manager and staff, too?

    This is gross administrative negligence.

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  • stasia:) July 20, 2015 at 6:53 pm

    Zan Gibbs!! Heck yeah. Zan’s a badass and an amazing person, and I’m excited to see her hired for this.

    And I think a lot of us here are missing the point of “equity.” Feeling oppressed because you’re cycling (in many cases a choice) misses a whole other spectrum of systematic oppression that I’m exited to see PBOT tackle.

    It’s too much to put in comments, but I wrote way more about it here back in the day: http://www.carfreerambles.org/2015/02/whats-portlands-and-your-and-my-role-in-equity/

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    • JonM July 20, 2015 at 8:05 pm

      From the piece that you linked to:
      “In short, it’s the (false) assertion that everyone in this world really does have an equal shot at success. The uncomfortable truth is that we’re still really, really far away from that ideal in the US, and if we look globally, we’re even further. As things stand now, everyone does not have an equal shot at success. Everyone doesn’t even have an equal shot at survival. But saying so threatens the self-concept of privileged people, including me, who feel they have worked hard for their success.”

      Though the role of government is not to ensure an equal shot at success. Our Declaration of Independence recognizes that all men are created equal. This does not mean and was never intended to mean freedom from work and responsibility or the necessity of economic or social equality despite the most well-intentioned social activist. The creators intended differently, that men were entitled to (1) equality under the law; (2) equality in the eyes of God; and (3) freedom from coercion and tyranny.

      Please do no attempt to pervert this simple interaction of liberty and equality with the simple-minded activist nonsense of “check your privilege.” This concept only serves to stop debate, to silence those you disagree with because you presumably know them better than they know themselves.

      PBOT is not and should not be in the business of expending government resources or adopting policies that serve to enhance equity. That is not the government’s job. This false progressive notion that government exists to and is best capable of enhancing liberty, enhancing freedom, and enhancing equality is simply a short cut to an oppressive government telling us how much soda we can buy at any one time, how far we may drive in a day, etc.

      NO THANKS!

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      • Chris I July 21, 2015 at 7:13 am

        Considering that slavery was legal in the United States until about 80 years after that declaration was written, I don’t really see the value in citing it as a founding principal of our country. Many countries in the world have taken steps to ensure that everyone gets an equal chance at success (socialized secondary school, medicine, etc). The US is a very different place 239 years later.

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        • JonM July 21, 2015 at 10:11 am

          Uh, you do realize I was responding a poster who did, in fact, raise a founding concept, i.e., equality. Tell me that you knew.

          Equal chance at success is not about access to services. Additionally, we have socialized primary education as well as socialized medicine for the poor and disabled (it’s called Medicare and Medicaid). Again, tell you knew….

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      • Jeff Snavely January 6, 2016 at 9:35 pm

        You’re just making stuff up now. At least half the signers were just pacifying the plebes by even pretending there was a god. Equality under magic sky man indeed…

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  • JonM July 20, 2015 at 9:33 pm

    From the definition of “equality” above, “…and people who experience language barriers.”

    Who knew that a bureau of transportation would exist to remedy language barriers? I mean, there are private sources to learn the English language. They are tons of other government services to provide language assistance.

    Yet, here’s the PBOT advancing a definition of “equality” that presumes it is within it’s scope of responsibility to provide language assistance.

    Again, gross administrative negligence.

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    • Dave Thomson July 20, 2015 at 11:14 pm

      Thanks for saving me a trip to the OregonLive comment section.

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    • Michael July 21, 2015 at 10:18 am

      Actually ensuring non-discrimination is a job of the government – so the government has a duty to respect the rights of those who face discrimination, to protect their rights (in cases when other parties may infringe their rights), and can apply measures to ensure their rights are fulfilled. That’s what international law says (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the nine core covenants and conventions). Look at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights for more information.

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      • JonM July 21, 2015 at 10:58 am

        Non-discrimination is a job of the government? What does that even mean? At best it means that the government will not discriminate against protected classes.

        Second, what the heck does “duty to respect the rights of those who face discrimination” mean? Where does the “duty” originate” How does a government express “respect” in the way that you’re suggesting here? And express respect for those who bring a claim of discrimination, those who might potentially be discriminated against (that would be all of us), etc., etc., etc. None of this means anything at all. It’s literally gibberish about what you think the government should do.

        The government has a duty to protect “their” rights? Who is they in this instance?So the exists to protect the rights of some of us, but not all of us? You are clearly distinguishing between those who face discrimination (whatever that means) and the rest of us. So I am curious now…you think the government exists to protect the rights of some but not all??

        You have a fundamental misunderstanding of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Recall you elementary civics class…the Constitution exists to restrain the authority and power of government, hence it enumerates specific powers to each branch of the government, each co-equal branch of the government. Further, the Bill of Rights exists not as an affirmative grant of rights from the State (despite liberals doing their best to turn it into such, but as further limitations on the power of government. This is why it is written as it is, e.g., “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” See? It restricts the power of Congress. That is the intent of the Constitution and Bill of Rights. It’s intent, despite being perverted by the courts in their own grab for power, was always to restrain the power of the government relative to the people.

        But now we have your comments which suggest that the government has some duty coming from someplace to protect the rights of some who you believe face discrimination…no less you’ve aid that this duty rests with a function of a local government intended to provide transportation services to the public. You really think that PBOT should be engaged in rooting out discrimination despite what it’s mission is???

        Lastly, I could care less what the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says. The United States is a sovereign nation. No provision is any UN article trumps our Constitution and laws. International law does not subordinate US law here in the US. This trans-nationalistic hogwash is precisely that, hogwash. That you appeal to it is kind of sad seeing as though the UN is not populated by the US and other democratic nations, but is thoroughly dominated by dictators, thugs, etc. What, we should look to the UN Human Rights Commission for guidance when the likes of China, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, et al are members, LMAO….

        No thanks.

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        • Michael July 21, 2015 at 11:54 am

          UDHR is an extremely important document for international law and was drafted with the full support of the United States, so you may want to look into what it and the different covenants and conventions say rather than dismiss them immediately.

          The United States has also signed most of those covenants and conventions (though regrettably has not ratified them all), and signing the covenants and conventions, which is a wholly voluntary act, signals an intent not to take part in any activity that contravenes the said covenant or convention.

          All this to say law and notions of obligations have evolved since the 18th century.

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          • JonM July 21, 2015 at 12:58 pm

            Again, it is inconsequential to this discussion what the document says.

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  • Melinda Musser July 21, 2015 at 10:07 am

    Yay, Zan! Excited for you. Congratulations. 🙂

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  • Sam July 21, 2015 at 11:16 am

    I am going to acknowledge the whiteness of both these people as diversity champions. The ice has been broken. Let the discussion begin.

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    • JonM July 21, 2015 at 11:20 am

      Bwahahahahahaaaaa…When will they have to check their privilege?

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  • daisy July 21, 2015 at 12:35 pm

    Certainly it should be the job of everyone to promote diversity and inclusion… but when it’s everyone’s job, it’s no one’s job. It’ll be Zan’s job to make sure important issues are considered as part of every project. When you move on projects without an equity lens, it tends to perpetuate privilege and the dominant culture. We absolutely need this important work done, and I’m glad PBOT created and filled this position. Also please note we cannot assume Zan Gibbs, based on one small photo on this website, is a person of privilege in all aspects of life.

    People of color and other minorities fare worse in Portland than in similar cities Seattle and San Francisco (see research done by PSU faculty in conjunction with the Coalition of Communities of Color http://coalitioncommunitiescolor.org/culturally-appropriate-data-research/) as well as many large US cities. Outcomes for people of color in Portland lag significantly behind white people — and far more so than in Seattle or San Fran — for education, health, and income. Seattle and San Francisco faced these disparities head on in previous decades (in part by creating positions like Zan’s), whereas Portland did not, and our failures show.

    It’s time for Portland to step up and do better. Thanks to Leah Treat for her excellent work in creating a new position focused on equity.

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    • JonM July 21, 2015 at 12:57 pm

      Hi JonM,

      I’ve deleted this entire comment and you are now on auto-moderation. I’ve been watching you for a few days now and have decided that your tone and style is not respectful of other readers. You can still comment, but they’ll all be held back until I have time to read them.

      I hope you understand. If not, feel free to email me – maus.jonathan@gmail

      Jonathan Maus, Editor & Publisher

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      • daisy July 21, 2015 at 2:02 pm

        Jon, I’m not sure if you’re sincerely engaging here or not. But I’ll respond to a few specific points.

        No, PBOT is not alone in being responsible for improving education, health, and income for people of color. But transportation is key to improved outcomes. Can your kids walk safely to their neighborhood school? Can you take a convenient and safe bus to your job? Does your neighborhood have sidewalks and bike lanes so you can walk or bike to the grocery store? Is your neighborhood’s infrastructure supporting development without clogging the roads with even more cars? Are dentists and doctors available nearby so you can get necessary medical care?

        Many of Portland’s lowest income families live in east Portland, where we have the least amount of investment in parks, infrastructure, and transportation. PBOT can be part of a city-wide solution to this problem, but, yeah, it takes people who are specifically tasked with focusing on historically underserved groups.

        And, yes, it is absolutely the job of the City of Portland to do this work.

        I actually think it’s fantastic that Gresham-Barlow Schools are asking their teachers to participate in equity training, so I’m not sure we’re going to come to any sort of agreement or consensus on these issues.

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        • JonM July 21, 2015 at 10:25 pm

          “But transportation is key to improved outcomes.”

          Maybe, maybe not. But PBOT is not responsible nor should it be for improving educational, health, or economic outcomes. It’s sole purpose is transportation planning. Sure, there is some impact, I’ll concede that. But this role of PBOT does not warrant it’s own little inclusion and diversity fiefdom that the City already has an office for.

          “Can your kids walk safely to their neighborhood school? Can you take a convenient and safe bus to your job? Does your neighborhood have sidewalks and bike lanes so you can walk or bike to the grocery store? Is your neighborhood’s infrastructure supporting development without clogging the roads with even more cars? Are dentists and doctors available nearby so you can get necessary medical care?”

          None of these questions have anything to do with these two hires and that is the point. Neither of these appointments will have an impact on these issues. Neither position contributes to the actual mission of the PBOT.

          “but, yeah, it takes people who are specifically tasked with focusing on historically underserved groups.”

          It does? How so? Where is the evidence that this is true?

          “And, yes, it is absolutely the job of the City of Portland to do this work.”

          But we’re not talking about the City generally, we are specifically talking about these positions in PBOT when there are other similar responsibilities and management officials within the City government. So while I might agree that the City, generally, plays role in improving the lives of it;s residents, that most certainly is not PBOT’s mission, especially when it comes to improving economic, health, and educational outcomes.

          “I actually think it’s fantastic that Gresham-Barlow Schools are asking their teachers to participate in equity training,”

          But it is not “equity training at all. It’s junk training that brainwashes white teachers into believing that they are racist, that they were born with extra privileges, that values like independence, achievement, etc. are white person’s values and that it is racist to encourage minorities to live by similar principlesF/values.

          For example, the training also tells participants to stop calling dropouts “dropouts” and to call them “pushouts” instead — after all, these kids clearly had no choice. They were basically kicked out of school by all of the white privilege.

          The conference materials also include a document explaining the “attitudes and behaviors” that allow participants to become “Anti-Racist White Allies” — the first line of which is: “All white people are racist. I am racist.”

          You see, that is not equity training, it is brainwashing well-intentioned teachers into believing that they are the problem, that they are racists…good stuff, eh?

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      • JonM July 21, 2015 at 2:38 pm

        Wow, such a shame….

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  • Charlie July 21, 2015 at 1:00 pm

    Meanwhile hundreds of thousands of dollars that could be used for improving bike access for everyone is pissed away to assuage some misbegotten guilt.

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    • JonM July 21, 2015 at 1:34 pm

      That is precisely what is happening here. The whole privilege and dominant culture movement is intended to delude us into thinking we are racists or bigots and, by virtue of this, must pervert the nature of government to confiscate what some have to simply give away to yet others and all to assuage this false guilt.

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      • 9watts July 22, 2015 at 10:54 am

        Except that this country of ours is mind-blowingly unequal, and racism is alive and well in many of our institutions and policies not to mention the hearts of many people. Given that the US finishes near the bottom in every social indicator, I’m having trouble comprehending your ‘what’s the problem?’ take. Here’s a review of Edward Fullbrook’s The Decline of the US. I think you might find his book interesting.


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  • Steph Routh July 24, 2015 at 10:31 am

    Go Zan!

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  • Steve B July 24, 2015 at 2:10 pm

    Zan rules! Great hire, PBOT. And congrats, Zan!

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  • Katherin Kirkpatrick May 17, 2016 at 11:08 am

    If they really cared about equity and inclusion, they could simply put a district representation charter amendment up to the voters. Seriously, we’re the last major city left without representative government. And they could change it today, instead of making private citizens spend 30 years and their own savings desperately trying to get signatures for ballot measures so that City Hall defeats by using our own resources against us.

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