Podcast: Mayoral Candidate Marshall Runkel

Marshall Runkel in the BikePortland Shed, June 14th. (Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Marshall Runkel wants back into Portland city hall, a place he first worked in 1995.

Runkel swung by the Shed on Friday for his first in-depth interview since he announced his bid for mayor last week. Listen to the full interview in the player above or wherever you get your podcasts. Or keep reading for excerpts and more about Marshall.

I first met Runkel when he was chief of staff for former Commissioner Chloe Eudaly. He was engaged on cycling and transportation issues during the two years his boss was commissioner-in-charge of the Portland Bureau of Transportation. Runkel left city hall at the end of 2020 when Eudaly lost to Mingus Mapps.

That was a pivotal year for many of us as the pandemic and protests became a big part of Portlanders’ lives. In our interview, Runkel shared that he needed to take a break. “I took a couple of months and just tried to collect myself and had no appetite for politics,” he shared.

Runkel focused on his family and went to work in the clean energy field, doing home renovations and HVAC work. Since leaving city hall he’s also worked as VP of local government affairs for political consulting company Strategies 360.

Runkel and I talked about a wide range of issues, from how he’ll separate himself from Commissioner Eudaly, to his role in mediating the relationship between bike activists and police during the standoff over Portland Critical Mass in the early 2000s. I asked Runkel what specific experiences he has that qualify him to be mayor, what he thinks of Portland voter sentiment at the moment, what type of basketball player PBOT bike coordinator Roger Geller is (the two played on the same rec league team), if he thinks Portland is doing enough for bicycling, and a lot more.

Below are just a few of our exchanges, followed by a video with selected clip from the interview:

Why jump into this race?

I thought about it for a really long time… In my heart, in my head, I know I can do that job. I know I can help the city. I’ve got the experience and the know-how. And it felt like I owe the city. The city has been incredibly kind to me… when I ended up here, it really did feel like home. And I thought I had to at least try. I couldn’t turn down an opportunity to give something back to the city.

What makes you think you can do the job?

I have a lot of specific experience. I’ve spent years and years on housing and homelessness issues. Dignity Village was my project way back when… and I did the organizing that led to the creation of the Housing Investment Fund. I’ve got specific experience in our biggest problems — and homelessness and housing are obviously that. And in our biggest opportunity, which is clean energy. It’s a huge competitive advantage that we have a local source of revenue for doing that work. We’re not going to solve the global problem here in Portland, but I think we can help show the world the creative, interesting, positive solutions.

A lot of people will see you as the ‘Eudaly guy’. How will you handle that on the campaign trail?

I helped Chloe get elected because we had whole buildings full of people who were getting evicted. Like double digit number percentages of kids in schools, families, were affected by eviction. We needed to stick the finger in the dike. That was my motivation, it was literally tearing our community apart and we needed to do something, and Chloe was proposing to do something. And that’s why [I worked with her].

If people don’t like me because I worked with Chloe, I can’t do anything about that, but I think if people listen to me and pay attention a little bit, it’ll be pretty clear that I’m not Chloe Eudaly. We’re different people and have different ideas and different approaches.

What has been your relationship to transportation throughout your life?

Growing up on the east [coast], I didn’t get a driver’s license until my mid-twenties. I didn’t really need to drive. The biggest adjustment about coming to the west coast was how much everybody drove. I took the bus to work for a decade or so. I love riding the bus… there’s a little community, you get to know that people ride the bus all the time. There’s a certain freedom about it, too, because I didn’t have to worry about parking, or, I could have a beer or two after work and not have to worry about driving.

And I credit bike activists in Portland for getting me on my bike. I rode with them [Critical Mass] a bunch of times [as a staffer for Commissioner Erik Sten]. It was fun. I got to know a bunch of people and that’s what kind of [taught me about] how the engineering choices affected safety and I saw the city through a new set of eyes.

Do you think Portland is doing enough, too much, or not enough to encourage more Portlanders to ride bikes?

Not enough. I think there’s a lot to do. It’s one of the things that I’m most excited about. My idea from the [PSU Traffic and] Transportation class [which he completed with Commissioner Eudaly in 2018] was about what I call ‘active transportation stations’. We’ve taken the bike share and scooters and kind of jumbled them up in a bag and threw them around the city. There’s no organized approach. I think that they could be very significant last-mile parts of our transportation system.

I would give us an F-minus on station areas. Like, unless you really love concrete… There’s very little commerce that occurs. There’s public safety issues. And the answer seems to be ‘We’ll have more security.’ Well when I see a security guard, it doesn’t necessarily communicate safety to me. I could transform these stations into real, little community hubs. It’s not just about transportation, it’s about activating those spaces into places where you would actually want to go.

On his leadership style:

I don’t think I’m special in any way. I think my values match the most people in Portland’s values, and because I have experience in politics, I know how to turn those values into things that we can do. And, more importantly, maybe help other people who have great ideas make their ideas happen.

I don’t care about getting credit, I prefer other people get credit. That’s not my thing. It’s not about the greater glory of Marshall Runkel. That’s not what I’m trying to do here. I’m trying to do something meaningful and good for our city. And that’s all I want to do. I don’t want some higher office. I don’t want to be governor or senator or be in congress. This is the job I want.

I’m 59 years old. I think this is going to be one of the last big things I do in my life and I’ve got a lot of energy and and ideas and I enjoy working with people. It’s fun for me to think about these projects and work with people. That’s, that’s why I’m running. Because I just couldn’t sit by with these thoughts and feelings and not at least try.


You can meet Marshall at Bike Happy Hour this week. He’ll join us on the Gorges Beer Co patio on SE Ankeny and 27th from 3:00 to 6:00 pm. Come around 5:00 to hear him speak.

— Listen to the full episode in the player above or wherever you get your podcasts.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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Art Lewellan
Art Lewellan
1 month ago

Marshal Runkel has yet to disprove his efforts over the years planning transportation left a lot to be desired. The SW Corridor MAX on Hwy 99W (ODOT jurisdiction) was as horribly engineered as the RoseQ I-5 so called “improvement” – more like a death trap in traffic. The latest RoseQ I-5 Widening – adding lanes – worsens all traffic hazards. Neglects simple low cost fixes for freeway access and then puts the public in harms way.
Particularly members whose ancestors lived here decades ago nowhere near freeway on/off ramps and reckless speeding traffic.

Wooster
Wooster
1 month ago
Reply to  Art Lewellan

What does this have to do with Runkel, exactly?

Art Lewellan
Art Lewellan
1 month ago
Reply to  Wooster

Back in those years Runkel either supported or opposed major ODOT jurisdiction State Hwy “widenings” of Hwy 99W Barbur Blvd, I-5 thru RoseQuarter, I-5 across the Columbia River. All examples of unacceptably bad engineering stunts to waste time and effort to get nothin done faster. What Runkel say about his time then on what project?

surly ogre
surly ogre
1 month ago

the new council will have to pass a budget that Ted Wheeler created if the new council is not invited/expected to participate in the development of the budget starting Wed Nov 6, 2024

Wooster
Wooster
1 month ago
Reply to  surly ogre

What does this have to do with Runkel, exactly?

Matt
Matt
1 month ago

“first met Runkel when he was chief of staff for former Commissioner Chloe Eudaly“ automatic no.

Fred
Fred
1 month ago
Reply to  Matt

That’s also my big concern. When Eudaly chose to take on the neighborhood associations (pronounced them products of “systemic racism” etc), did Runkel push back? When she said homeless people could take over our MUPs, did he push back? It’s easy to say “I’m not Chloe” but I’d like to hear what he did specifically and what positions he took. If he’s like Eudaly on homelessness – and it sounds like he is – then there’s no way I could ever vote for him, unfortunately. I like that he has ground-level experience in gov’t, though as mayor he’d be much more of an orchestra conductor and not second baritone horn.

Chris I
Chris I
1 month ago
Reply to  Fred

He is the status quo. Read between the lines above and you’ll see that the policy would be no sweeps, a focus on eviction rates instead of housing starts, and clean energy policies.

And read the active transportation blurb closely. His comments about cycling and public transit are in the past. Those are the words of someone who drives every day.

Will the last bike commuter turn off their lights
Will the last bike commuter turn off their lights
1 month ago
Reply to  Fred

Eudaly chose to take on the neighborhood associations (pronounced them products of “systemic racism” etc

Not only are these exclusionary political “clubs” racist but they are thoroughly and unapologetically classist.
.
In fact, the power these clubs hold over land-use and transportation decision-making is one of the things I hate about Portland (there are so many things).

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor

Chloe felt the same way, and was vocal about it for four years, which is why Runkel has got a very heavy lift to get votes from the west side. I suspect he knows this.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago

I realize you, like Woody Allen, would never join a club that would have you for a member, but Neighborhood Associations are literally open to all, even to haterz, and at least the ones I know are decidedly non-political. Maybe in today’s landscape that radical statement is itself political. I don’t know.

There’s only so much time in the day, and such a long list of things to hate. It must be exhausting.

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor
Reply to  Watts

Groucho.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago

Egads! You’re right!

Damien
Damien
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

…and at least the ones I know are decidedly non-political.

NAs are about allocations of resources, and thus by definition completely political. What you might be able to say is that they aren’t partisan.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  Damien

NAs are about allocations of resources

Which resources do they allocate? They consume a small amount of money, to cover insurance and efforts to reach out to the community, but they have no greater voice in allocating anything than you do.

SolarEclipse
SolarEclipse
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

Back when NAs had lots of power, they did wield power in the halls of power in Portland. Afterall, they could be persuasive of their neighbors/members to donate funds to campaigns, vote for certain candidates, etc. When a NA chair called the Mayor or a City Counselor they’d listen.
So though they didn’t have the final word the politicians would listen to them as they did loosely represent the views of their fellow neighbors. And if the NA didn’t want a project in their neighborhood, some could get it stopped.

Again, that was a number of years ago and I rarely hear the NAs being mentioned anymore.

Damien
Damien
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

Which resources do they allocate?

I didn’t say they allocate resources – I said they’re about allocations of resources, which is inherently political.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  Damien

An example of the sort of political work that NAs typically do:

There’s an annual movie at Sewallcrest Park sponsored by the surrounding NAs. They raise money to pay for allocate the resources to Parks for the $1000 or so they charge to show a free movie to the community. There’s another event I happened upon where the NA was serving free ice cream in the park on National Night Out to delighted kids (and anyone else).

It’s very political stuff; those are the types of decisions that the property owning class needs to keep lowly renters as far away from as possible. Chocolate? Oh my heavens no. That so plebian.

Damien
Damien
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

“An” example, sure, congrats. Representative? Unlikely.

I don’t know why you seem to be threatened/offended by the simple fact that NAs are inherently political. I get that you’re very defensive NAs generally, but this isn’t even a negative statement. It’s neutral. Some NAs do great advocacy regarding allocations of resources (if not allocating themselves). Some completely live up to the worst NA stereotypes.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  Damien

Representative? Unlikely.

What do you think would be a more representative example of what NAs spend their time on?

Will the last bike commuter turn off their lights
Will the last bike commuter turn off their lights
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

There’s only so much time in the day, and such a long list of things to hate. It must be exhausting.

It’s strange how my use of “things I hate about Portland” draws this kind of reaction. It’s almost as if ‘murricans have difficulty holding opposing views in their minds.

There are also many things that I like about Portland but from a political perspective my focus is on the things that I hate.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago

this kind of reaction

Hate is a personal emotion, and doesn’t really belong in the realm of policy. Ultimately we’re all trying to do the same thing, which is to improve things*.

*At least I assume this is your motivation; that is definitely what motivates me and those I work with. That said, there is definitely a contingent that just wants to break things with no larger vision, but you strike me as more mature than that.

Chris I
Chris I
1 month ago

It was probably the blanket statement you made about them all being racist.

Fred
Fred
1 month ago
Reply to  Chris I

This. Same mistake Eudaly made.

Wooster
Wooster
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

I have plenty of friends who have gone to one NA meeting and never wanted to go back because it was clearly a group that was dominated by rich, white homeowners and completely hostile to renters or anyone different from their elite group. So sure, anyone can be a member, but plenty of people have good reason not to be members. And they don’t hold actual elections sending out ballots to everyone in the neighborhood, so they are completely unrepresentative, fairly meaningless organizations. They’re an advocacy group without a platform beyond whatever that random group of people cares about.

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor
Reply to  Wooster

How do you feel about the tremendous amount of work Marita Ingalsbe is doing to inform and encourage discussion of the Alpenrose project, much of it about active transportation?

She’s the president of the Hayhurst NA. She’s a nice, welcoming lady, not an off-putting thing about her.

The problem is, this conversation always happens with a complete lack of specifics, into that blank page folks empty their biases.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  Wooster

Neighborhood associations are not representative bodies — they only represent those who participate.

Your “friends” are not reliable reporters: take a look for yourself. You’re likely to find a group of civically minded folks who want to make their neighborhood a better place to live. You may not agree with everything everyone says, but then no one does, because there are a variety of people with a variety of viewpoints on the issues of the day. They will likely welcome you and be happy that a new person has taken an interest.

You can choose to participate, or not, but if you do you’ll find that NAs are much more democratic that most organizations — they follow Oregon Open Meetings law (unlike a typical non-profit), anyone can join the board (unlike a typical non-profit, getting elected is generally trivially easy, and even non-board members can help make decisions). Their meeting minutes are published and publicly available (unlike a typical non-profit). And (unlike a typical non-profit) anyone can challenge their decisions if they do not follow the rules.

You would probably find the meetings boring because, frankly, most of the issues are so low stakes as to only interest those who actually want to improve their neighborhood, like organizing graffiti removal or writing a letter to PBOT asking them for the 9th time to put in a crosswalk somewhere. People expecting lots of juicy policy making will be disappointed.

Now if you’ll pardon me, I need to get back to twirling my mustache and raising rents on single mothers.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

I served on the Sullivan’s Gulch NA 2002-2006 and Hazelwood NA 2008-2015, and most of what you say is perfectly true. Their strength is largely based on persuasion and not taking themselves too seriously, and a willingness to work in coalition with other NA’s and groups for common purposes. Hazelwood usually had a more-or-less unelected board of 9-12 members for a neighborhood (a town really) of 23,000 residents and over 800 businesses, with pieces of 5 different school districts. It wasn’t very democratic, but then neither is the Portland city bureaucracy. Some NA’s are able to get small grants and “wield resources” for neighborhood events, movies, and block parties.

Clay St Edward
Clay St Edward
1 month ago
Reply to  Wooster

I’ve been to exactly one NA meeting and found it bereft of the problems you mention. Does my anecdata counter yours?

Micah Prange
Micah Prange
1 month ago
Reply to  Clay St Edward

Anecdatum?

I feel like the defenders of NAs are missing the point that, whatever the reality on the inside, they are perceived by many as a mechanism of sustaining inequality. I don’t doubt the things Watts and Lisa are saying about NAs reflect the objective reality and their personal perceptions. But I do think there is a lot of valence to the feelings that NAs are part of a web of privilege that reflects our discriminatory society (past and present). That current NAs are facially righteous (e.g. have diverse membership, assent to multifamily and subsidized housing, etc.) does not negate the fact that NAs code as White. I get renters’ resentment of property owners. I rented in Goose Hollow and Queen Anne in Seattle for years, and the disdain homeowners had for me was very easy to pick up on. NAs were exactly the kind of institution that would represent such people — and would not represent me, despite being technically nondiscriminatory, etc. I hear you when you say Eudaly’s attacks on NAs were bogus and inflammatory. I think going after NAs is unlikely to move the needle on inequality and is likely to fracture the political coalitions that are most likely to lead to a better future for PDX on multiple fronts: transportation, environment, schools, racial justice, etc. Please don’t take criticism of your association personally — it’s born out of true frustration of people that share many of your values and could help your political agenda. Even more than than a rap about engineering bingo.

cct
cct
1 month ago
Reply to  Micah Prange

So NAs should stop pointing out that they have changed (IF they have)” Got it. Light under a bushel from now on, folks!

I do understand the points in your post; i don;t like some of the other homeowners in my neighborhood, either! Interestingly, both my local NA and my neighborhood potluck thingy have actively tried to get renters aboard – the NA even deliberately targeted several large apartments. Both groups got little result, although at least the renters now know the NA email to complain to… they just won’t pitch in to solve their complaints, usually.

My neighbor renters are missing some good appetizers.

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor
Reply to  Micah Prange

Micah, I rented until I was in my 40s. And I moved around a lot, both cities and apartments. I think the longest I lived in the same place was four years. I got involved in politics, schools (helped to start one of the first charter schools in NYC), art stuff . . . but something like a neighborhood association held zero interest for me until I was in my 50s. I was too busy doing other things.

I hear your resentment loud and clear. People should be angry over the gross inequality created by federal policies over the past half century. But directing that anger toward well-meaning do-gooders who volunteer to improve their neighborhood misses the mark.

Micah Prange
Micah Prange
1 month ago

Hi Lisa. Thanks for the reply. My comment was not intended to signal anger or resentment! I admire your activism. I have not yet reached the point in my life where neighborhood associations seem attractive, but the next decade may get me there. I count neighborhood associations as conditional allies: their goals often, but not always, overlap with my own. The point I am trying to make is that NAs exist as part of a status quo that exhibits a lot of injustice, regardless of how great the organizations and the people that compose them are. They have attracted criticism, not entirely baseless, as political institutions that perpetuate and exacerbate inequality. This is true even though you and Watts and Marita Ingalsbe are wonderful humans (as all evidence available to me indicates). The reputation of NAs is part of the political context in which your defense of NAs is received. I urge you to at least engage the criticism seriously instead of assuming it is the result of people ’emptying their biases’ into the blank page of their ignorance.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  Micah Prange

they are perceived by many as a mechanism of sustaining inequality

Like many such “perceptions”, they are prejudices, not based on fact. Sadly, many people are happy to judge based on their prejudice rather than on reality.

NAs are a reflection of the people in a neighborhood. If a neighborhood is predominantly white, the NA will likely be as well. I’m not sure how to fix that problem, or even if it’s a problem at all.

Renters are less likely to participate; many are younger (so have a different set of interests), and many feel transient and less invested in a place (as I have when I’ve rented, which I’ve done for big chunks of my life). That leads to less interest in spending the weekends doing civic projects. I’m not sure how to fix that problem either, or even if it’s a problem at all.

Practical suggestions are always welcome.

cct
cct
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

NAs are a reflection of the people in a neighborhood. If a neighborhood is predominantly white,

This was one of Eudaly’s ‘proofs’ that NAs were still racist, that some neighborhoods in a predominantly-white town were predominantly white… and so were the NAs! NAs can’t MAKE people of color or economic-disadvantage move to their area; all they can do is welcome those who did. You also can;t MAKE them join. Eudaly’s team had crackpot ideas about replacing NAs with groups aligned via identifiers such as ethnicity – are all the concerns of an Asian American Pacific Islander on SE 122nd the same as one in Irvington? Implying they were sounded a bit racist to me.

Anyways, I totally get the animosity, as no good idea goes undone by jackasses. Small people abuse whatever power they can find and the perception may not change for some time – look at the post-WW1 Democratic Party. They ain’t perfect, but they certainly ain’t the pro-slavery party they were. — insert ghost of Noam Chomsky getting up off the couch looking argumentative here

It’s could be moot: as many have said, NAs were a solution to inadequate representation, and the theory is that the new city system will fix that. Ww’ll find out.

Micah Prange
Micah Prange
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

You may want to check your stats, Watts. I think there is a strong case to be made that NAs do contribute to inequality. What makes you so sure they don’t? You posit some possible causes for disparate demographic engagement in NAs. I think the most cogent criticism of NAs is that they preferentially further the interests of people that are already relatively well represented. It’s not specific to NAs: they are just one avenue suburban/white/affluent (insert nominal privilege denoting characteristic here) communities have and do use to achieve their political goals. As you point out, less engaged communities use these same tools with less acumen and receive correspondingly less attention from the politburo. My practical advice is to look for policy areas where transportation and social justice activism have common goals and talk about those areas instead of reflexively insisting nothing you do could be further from racism.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  Micah Prange

What makes you so sure they don’t? 

It’s hard to prove a negative, but I think in this case, it would be hard to prove the positive as well.

In the neighborhoods around here (inner NE/SE Portland), most if not all are very well aligned with the general goals of transportation activists, for example, and many NA boards here are dominated by bikey people, including in leadership roles. Many of the folks I know in BikeLoud are also active in their NAs.

Does your “strong case” boil down to any time a white person uses their “acumen” to ask the city to do something inherently increasing inequality?

Micah Prange
Micah Prange
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

It’s the social justice axis where the NAs have a reputation problem. Do you think our current power structures are equally responsive to White and BIPOC communities? There is substantial scholarship that suggests otherwise, although it is not universally accepted. Jackie Treehorn draws a lot of water in this town. He’s probably in the Malibu NA. Us Jeff Lebowskis don’t draw shit, and that colors our view of the NAs.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  Micah Prange

Let me repeat my question — is it simply the act of white folks asking the city for a crosswalk or graffiti removal that is the problem? Or is there something special about NAs that creates the issue?

Micah Prange
Micah Prange
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

Let me repeat my answer less obliquely: White activism is not a problem whether or not it occurs through the NA mechanism. What is problematic is the knee-jerk defense of NAs against legitimate criticism. Since, as you point out, NAs and bike activism are coassociated, I feel like the tone deafness of the anti Eudaly vitriol reflects poorly on the pro bike coalition. Do you see where I’m coming from?

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor
Reply to  Micah Prange

Micah, everything you write has the hard-polish of an abstraction, nothing specific.

Let me tell you, specifically, how my specific neighborhood association (SWHRL) addressed some common criticism being leveled at NAs:

1) As transportation chair, I reached parents of young children on their own ground — at school drop-off. I’d walk down and ask their opinion on various transportation problems.

2) A member of our transportation committee had three children under four years old. He didn’t have time to do a lot of things. But he did have time to regularly meet me for coffee on his way to work, and I would listen to his ideas and act on them.

3) The president of our NA rented.

4) We hand-delivered questionnaires (with stamps!) to the apartment buildings near the base of Broadway Dr to learn about their active transportation needs.

5) Our current NA president is a Latina involved in housing female veterans, particularly those with children. She herself is a vet.

6) We’ve had Muslims on the board, a registered-with-a-tribe Native American.

7) When I stepped down from being chair, my replacement was a man who had bike commuted for, I don’t remember, 20 years?

I would have been happy to share our inclusivity strategies at a yearly best-practices summit if Civic Life had ever bothered to organize one — or do anything to help support NAs.

Portland is at an incredibly exciting point, politically. Abstractions and dogma miss the telling details of the here and now.

Micah Prange
Micah Prange
28 days ago

Thanks for your response, Lisa, and for engaging in this discussion with honesty and good will. Your association seems like a great org, and the responsiveness SWHRL has shown is admirable. I’m especially impressed by the outreach to renters. I looked at the SWHRL website. The tone there was much different that what I read in the comments here. I watched some of the 2020 video on Black experiences in Portland (which starts, fittingly enough, with Mingus Mapps). I was so impressed that I looked up my own NA and am considering checking it out. I will leave this conversation by admitting that I did not credit the association enough for good faith efforts to be inclusive.

I’m still alarmed at the rhetoric being used to defend NAs, but I will try to be more charitable in my assessment of NA defenders’ motivations and politics going forward. I find problematic echos of past inequality in the form and tone of transportation debates here on BP, in the local media, and at government meetings. Having a great DEI tab on your webpage does not excuse active participation or complicity in furthering systems of inequity. I agree that it is an important and exciting time in PDX politics — I hope the new council system allows transportation policy and systems to advance in equitable and broadly popular ways.

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor
Reply to  Micah Prange

Thank you Micah for your generous comments. I believe folks when they say their NA sucks, it’s not that I doubt that, and I zoomed into one that had my eyes rolling. But the thing is, Civic Life wasn’t offering any guidance that I saw, and actually seemed pretty hostile to the groups it was supposed to be regulating and supporting.

Regarding SWHRL’s outreach to the neighborhood, that wasn’t so much in response to criticism, it’s really just basic grassroots organizing, and I’ve done a fair amount of that.

Watts
Watts
28 days ago

It would be great if OCCL would help NAs reach out to a broader spectrum of folks.

One specific idea is that they could offer technical and financial assistance to send postcards to folks telling them what their NA does and how to get involved.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  Micah Prange

“Do you see where I’m coming from?”

Honestly I don’t. If activism is not the problem, what is? What might be helpful would be some specific suggestions for improving the system.

As far as neighborhoods were concerned, Eudaly was a purely destructive force, someone who wanted to tear things down without a vision for what to do instead. She seemed spiteful. And I honestly believe that that, more than anything, is what led to her political downfall.

Micah Prange
Micah Prange
28 days ago
Reply to  Watts

I guess we just see thing differently, Watts. The problem is that neighborhood activism has played a role in inequitably allocating city investments historically, and my transportation allies are saying, “yes, let’s have some more of that!” When anybody points that out, the response is “if you don’t like the outcome, you should have joined the NA — it’s open to everybody.” I understand that Eudaly was destructive. I also acknowledge that calls for social justice are replete with facile solutions that are unrealistic and often counterproductive. Systems of oppression took a long time to grow into their current state. We will probably need a long time to build more equitable social structures. Please don’t defect to the right wing backlash in response to the worst voices on the left.

Watts
Watts
26 days ago
Reply to  Micah Prange

neighborhood activism has played a role in inequitably allocating city investments historically

Your argument seems to keep circling back to the idea that white people advocating for the communities in which they live creates inequity (and is therefore bad). You also explicitly disavow this interpretation, so I am left confused as ever about what you think the problem is or how to reasonably remedy it.

Fred
Fred
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

That’s gotta be my favorite Watts post ever! Well done.

When I hear someone say s/he hates something so much, I always think: Then why put yourself through it??

Theresa Griffin Kennedy
Reply to  Watts

Exactly right. Open to the public and the people who volunteer there just happen to mostly be white, because very few other people are interested. That just happens to be the case. Open to the public, and always eager for more help, but generally never getting it. Yes, so many people need to complain and cry RACISM, just to feel relevant and trendy. There are serious racial concerns people need to worry about NA’s are just not one of them.

cct
cct
1 month ago

Have you actually LOOKED at NA memberships? Some are quite diverse, some quite actively support active transport and reforming housing codes. And yes, some are NIMBYs, some are classist. I have even heard racially-insensitive remarks at some. But insisting a group as a whole is identical to some stereotype seems kinda… you know.

More to the point, it was no business of a GOVERNMENT agency to declare an entire category of citizens ‘the enemy’ and treat them accordingly.

Will the last bike commuter turn off their lights
Will the last bike commuter turn off their lights
1 month ago
Reply to  cct

reforming housing codes

It’s kind of sad that you assume that my politics lives in the ridiculous binary of being for or against “zoning” reform.

some are YIMBYs/NIMBYs, some are classist.

Fixed it for you.

it was no business of a GOVERNMENT agency to declare an entire category of citizens ‘the enemy’

Describing Eudaly’s attempt to allow other organizations to receive CITY FUNDING as “declaring an entire category of citizens ‘the enemy'” is risible.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago

Describing Eudaly’s attempt to allow other organizations to receive CITY FUNDING as “declaring an entire category of citizens ‘the enemy’” is risible.

As is your characterization of her efforts. If that were an accurate description of what she was actually attempting, everyone would have agreed to do it, it would have happened, and no one would have given it a second thought.

Will the last bike commuter turn off their lights
Will the last bike commuter turn off their lights
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

Are you disputing the fact that Eudaly wanted to end the stranglehold of NAs on community involvement funds from the OCCL by shifting some of these funds to nonprofits?

If so, please let us know what your alternate reality is, Watts.

cct
cct
1 month ago

Eudaly wanted to end the stranglehold of NAs on community involvement funds

Nothing stopped her from doing that and giving groups who she preferred some money. Instead, she vilified the structure and people already getting money.

I liked Eudaly on many levels, but her irrational hatred of all homeowners did no-one any good.

Will the last bike commuter turn off their lights
Will the last bike commuter turn off their lights
1 month ago
Reply to  cct

Nothing stopped her from doing that

This isn’t a serious take. Not only were NAs/coalitions furious at the potential cuts in funding but their lobbying led to strong pushback from other council members. Remember that in our current dysfunctional government structure the Mayor can exert enormous pressure on a city council member to do something they don’t want to do by threatening to take away their bureau.

cct
cct
1 month ago

Mayor can exert enormous pressure on a city council member to do something they don’t want to do

The mayor happily let Eudaly shiv NAs and then let Hardesty twist the blade… and kept the ‘NA Guy,’ Mapps, away from OCCL. He wanted NAs gone but without his fingerprints.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago

This isn’t a serious take. 

The mayor and his deep-city apparatus was not secretly threatening to take away OCCL from Eudaly in an effort to save NAs from her and Suk Rhee.

Eudaly failed because she (and/or Rhee) was more interested in “owning the NAs” than in changing policy.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago

Are you disputing the fact

I answered this earlier when you made essentially the same comment.

I don’t dispute that funding other orgs was a non-controversial element in an otherwise controversial plan. Had she just done that, it would passed with very little fuss.

Personally, I would have opened the doors to any organization that abided by the rules that bind NAs (i.e. open meetings, open membership, and a dispute resolution process). I doubt you could find 10 people in the entire NA system who would disagree with that idea.

cct
cct
1 month ago

I assumed nothing of your bias, just noting that many NAs are against change, and many are not.

some are YIMBYs/NIMBYs, some are classist.

Fixed it for you.

Thank you!

Will the last bike commuter turn off their lights
Will the last bike commuter turn off their lights
1 month ago
Reply to  cct

just noting that many NAs are against change, and many are not.

Private orgs that are a de facto arm of the city government but are not held to the same standards as city government and have a long history of being racist should called racist. Moreover, orgs that have de facto legislative function and are not democratically governed (there are no neighborhood-wide elections in NAs) and require residents to attend a single very poorly-advertised meeting to vote are, by definition, systemically racist.

I’m also obviously not pointing fingers at some individual NA member and accusing them of being racist but rather pointing out the fact that the structure of NAs and coalitions is systemically racist.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago

orgs that have de facto legislative function

How are NAs “legislative”? Or non-democratic (within their participatory framework)? Who is required to attend?

We’ve entered a fact free zone. I get that you hate NAs (of course you do), but the reasons you give betray a complete misunderstanding of the system.

Fred
Fred
1 month ago

If you’re going to stand up at a meeting and declare that everyone at the meeting is racist, you had better have done a ton of relationship-building before you say something like that. Heck – even in families this sort of accusation is not universally welcomed: tell your racist uncle that he is racist and see how he reacts.

Yes, systemic racism is real and it is everywhere, even in NAs. But you don’t fight it by calling people racists. You have to be more clever than that.

Anyway, Runkel is a still a NO for me, and won’t even make my ranked-choice list.

Will the last bike commuter turn off their lights
Will the last bike commuter turn off their lights
1 month ago
Reply to  Fred

I wrote:

I’m also obviously not pointing fingers at some individual NA member and accusing them of being racist

Fred responded:

But you don’t fight it by calling people racists.

My response:

Sigh.

BB
BB
1 month ago

The worst thing is you are forced to live here and you can never leave.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  BB

It’s a real curse to be born one of the luckiest people who has ever lived and to despise your country, your fellow citizens, and pretty much everything.

jakeco969
jakeco969
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

I’m completely jealous, when I say things like that I get accused of using right wing tropes.

John V
John V
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

Being born into a place of privilege should not make you happy to have the privilege regardless of the expense. If you’re born into a slave holding family and live off the riches of that, you should still hate your country, fellow citizen (that enables this state of affairs), etc. If you’re born into the aristocracy of the British empire at the height of British imperialism, it’s not wrong to hate the British empire nontheless. Oh but you were born one of the luckiest people who has ever lived! Oh then no problems detected.

This kind of mindset is just baffling to me. It shows a real lack of morals. Of course you should complain and criticize the place you live for the problems it has. Especially despite your own benefit from that.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  John V

You and I have different ideas about hate.

I would not trade my life today for a life 100/500/1000 years ago for anything, and I don’t hate anyone. Work to further improve the world, absolutely! I spend a lot of time doing just that.

But not hate. What am I missing?

PS Rather than supposing, if you want to know what it’s really like to have a family slave (in modern America, no less, not when morality was based on 18th and 19th century values), you could read the story I’m linking below. It’s been a while since I read it, but I recall no hatred towards country or fellow citizens, or, really, anyone.

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/06/lolas-story/524490/

PPS If you were living 150 years ago, you would not have the same sense of right and wrong you have today.

John V
John V
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

As if people 150 years ago didn’t know slavery was wrong. People knew, but there was a lot of mental gymnastics and status-quo warriors working to sooth the cognitive dissonance at the time.

This is the crux. They knew then, and people today know about things that are wrong. It should be easy to say you hate the things that are wrong today instead of trying to dance around it and dodge. I mean, it’s not like we’re even talking about hating people! The original source of this thread was “things someone hates about Portland”. If there is nothing you hate about Portland, you’re not very observant. That doesn’t preclude you liking things about Portland.

Are you just looking for an opening to rebut someone on purely pedantic grounds because they used the extremely common / ubiquitous turn of phrase to say you “hate” something you don’t like? I hate Redvines, they taste like plastic. Does that to you seem like I’m really talking about sitting in a dark basement fuming and building an ulcer just being so mad about it? No. It’s what people say about things they don’t like.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  John V

Some people believed slavery was wrong, some didn’t.

Values change and right and wrong changes as society evolves. Moral values are not “truths” just waiting to be discovered like a law of physics.

Ray
Ray
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

Drawing comparisons to slavery isn’t the right tack. Slavery has always been wrong.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  Ray

It was “always wrong” by today’s standards; that was not the consensus in 1850. That’s presentism bias.

Someday we’ll think killing animals for food has always been wrong, but it doesn’t mean that people who do it today are immoral.

Was Genghis Khan “wrong” for committing the violent slaughter of a sizable portion of the world’s population? Probably, but I’m not going to tear down statues of him because of it.

Chris I
Chris I
1 month ago

Incredibly underwhelming.

Art Lewellan
Art Lewellan
1 month ago

So I’ll be the next post? No BikePortland discussion? No argumentation? – one side versus the other Blah blah? FYI, The RoseQ I-5 so called “improvement” actually worsens existing traffic hazards and speed patterns. Induced Demand then has less to do after the design itself. The first of all metrics – Public Safety, Public Health, Urban & Environmental impacts. RoseQ I-5 as proposed meets NONE of these metrics. NOT even close. Why won’t readers care to face the facts and respond?
Whoever reads my screeds may not reply, but they are being read.
Thanks 4 yor patience guys.

Art Lewellan
Art Lewellan
1 month ago

I’ve got a copy of the original Mercury story on the Rose Quarter I-5 plan from 2012. The plan then had the same unacceptable number of added lanes as now.
Unacceptable then. Unacceptable now. Worsened traffic hazards produce more multi-car pileups, more passenger, pedestrian and cyclist injury and fatalities.

Here’s a few elements that can be salvaged: Do relocate the southbound on-ramp from dangerous Wheeler Way to Weidler, plus the little bridge Broadway to Weidler and a simple half cap. Improve existing on/off ramps & crosswalks. Build a ped/bikeway from Clackamas Street.

Do NOT relocate the southbound off-ramp at Broadway to dangerous Wheeler Way south of Weidler. The turn west there is blatantly hazardous as a truck corridor, nor does the turn east exit ramp flyover to access Weidler make sense. Such nonsense. These as proposed designs are inexcusable.

Wooster
Wooster
1 month ago
Reply to  Art Lewellan

What does this have to do with the article?

Fred
Fred
1 month ago
Reply to  Art Lewellan

I hope you’ll keep posting, Art. You do have quite a range of interests so it can be hard to respond to all of them or even pick one to respond to.

Art Lewellan
Art Lewellan
1 month ago
Reply to  Fred

Thanks Fred. My short list begins with RoseQ I-5 (as proposed) “induces demand” for unacceptably worse traffic hazards. Next is the SW Corridor MAX extension to Tigard (still in the works) despite voter rejection. Then my advocacy for plug-in hybrid PHEV as “indispensable” especially for long-haul freight trucking fleets. DIVEST DAIMLER — forces the company to “re-tool” from BEV to PHEV. Then my legitimate complaint that standard city buses do NOT convert to EV very well, nor do Yellow School Bus and Paratransit lift-van fleets. Perhaps more than 5 things to think about. Sorry. So boring blah blah. (^:

Wooster
Wooster
1 month ago
Reply to  Art Lewellan

What does this have to do with Runkel, or the article in general?

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
1 month ago
Reply to  Wooster

What does anything on BP have to do with anything else? Or to do with bicycles and bicycling for that matter?

Fred
Fred
1 month ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

I do think posts should have something to do with cycling. Talking about who is going to represent us and make decisions on our behalf is de facto talking about cycling, in my opinion, since we need to make informed choices that will impact cycling.

OregonRainstorm87
OregonRainstorm87
1 month ago

I’m sure Mr. Runkel is a very nice guy but his stump speech last night at Bike Happy Hour was abysmal and left me actually mad that he wasted our valuable time telling us a meandering story about a tiger. You only get once chance at a first impression and his was squandered on me, especially compared to Keith Wilson who came prepared and took his time seriously. for the love of god, please vote for someone who can actually transform our city with their vision and skills!!!

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor

OregonRainstorm,

I had the opposite take of yours, I thought Runkel’s tiger story was brilliant. Yeah, he could have stood up there and rattled off his skills and experience in a direct and boring way (and he is the candidate with the most City of Portland experience). Instead, he told an engaging story which illustrated his experience and character.

What did we learn about him from the story? 1) He has been at the receiving end of weird calls from constituents. 2) He is someone who has worked with the City Attorney’s office to draft ordinances; 3) He listens. When the draft code ended up being too limiting, he adjusted course and took the suggestions of Portlanders.

It’s not rocket science, but it shows that he is experienced, that he listens and is flexible.

qqq
qqq
1 month ago

Since there are so many comments about neighborhood associations–the biggest problem I’ve experienced with them is City staff using them as lazy shortcuts for public input. Public outreach takes some effort. It was much easier for City staff to make a call or email to a NA president, then check off their “did public outreach” box.

Theresa Griffin Kennedy

Read the Hit Piece I just wrote about Runkel. The more ya know, right? Lots of good solid links and a really great source who gave me direct quotes. Runkel hides a lot of skeletons in his dusty closet.