The Portland City Council Agenda for December 19 includes an evening hearing:
1519 TIME CERTAIN: 6:00 PM - Accept report Improving Bicycle Safety in Portland outlining initial City policy improvements and engineering enhancements undertaken to increase bicycle safety in response to recent tragic bicyclist fatalities (Resolution introduced by Commissioner Adams)
The Council may hold evening hearings every third Wednesday of the month, but rarely chooses to do so. I'm glad to see this important topic covered at a time when more citizens can participate.
The first item on Wednesday's Consent Agenda:
*1489 Allow City Council to hold its regular meeting and recessed sessions at Jefferson High School on January 16 and 17, 2008 (Ordinance; waive Code Section 3.02.010)
Good to see. The Council should hold meetings in the community more often, and regularly.
A more worrisome Consent item:
1500 Amend contract with Portland Streetcar, Inc. to provide additional professional services for project management and vehicle engineering services for production of a domestically manufactured streetcar (Ordinance; amend Contract No. 37119)
The ordinance increases the payment to Portland Streetcar, Inc., by $184,398, as number six in a list of findings that doesn't seem to me to relate to numbers one through five. And then the accompanying "whereas" list contains a convoluted series of contract takeaways and givebacks that will make most citizens' heads spin.
Another big ticket item on Consent:
*1503 Authorize two subrecipient contracts for $338,043 for winter housing services for homeless women and provide for payment (Ordinance)
Housing is part of the City's core mission and responsibility. A caring society helps people who would otherwise be outside in this cold, nasty weather. Jack Bog's blog notes today that operating expenses per capita of the Bureau of Housing and Community Development has fallen, relative to spending in other bureaus.
I don't see much controversy on the short Regular Agenda, other than the Wednesday evening bicycle issue. This item makes me wonder:
*1515 Accept a donation of $1,575,000 from the Portland Parks Foundation on behalf of an anonymous donor for the development of South Park Block 5 (Ordinance)
It's A Good Thing that we have the Parks Foundation to solicit and broker philanthropic donations, which then become tax-deductions for donors. And certainly, whoever is giving this large chunk of change could have chosen not to. But let's remember that sometimes, affluent donors can afford to give because they've made money on the backs of working people. I posted Who's paying for the new park on Block 5 in the South Park blocks back in August, and subsequently commented about Public philanthropy, private debts. I don't know who's giving this $1,575,000 donation. I wonder whether some of the money was accumulated because of tax breaks for downtown development, if not from underpaying janitors. These thoughts could be groundless. I've certainly experienced the benefit of completely wonderful philanthropists giving to the Holly Farm Park and other parks in Portland, with money earned and multiplied by open investments. I hope this donation comes from a source like that. Let's remember, too, that over $2 million for this new park is coming from City taxpayers.