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February 25th, 2009 HENRY STERN | News Stories
 

Sam’s Club

There’s huge interest in the mayor’s first State-of-the-City speech. Is it the “economic crisis”?

     
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IMAGE: Vivian Johnson

A mayor’s annual State of the City speech is usually a dry affair.

The mayor delivers a laundry list of policy goals blended with squishy aspirations to City Club of Portland’s weekly Friday lunch gathering.

Hundreds of insiders listen politely, dutifully applaud when the mayor pauses for affirmation, ask wonky questions and emerge suffused in a warm cloud of progressive-speak.

Although Mayor Sam Adams’ first State of the City speech this Friday, Feb. 27, will follow the regular drill of speech followed by questions from City Club members, we’re guessing this event will be a lot more memorable than usual.

Beyond the fact it’s atypical for the mayor to be facing an investigation by the attorney general into a sexual relationship with an 18-year-old and what the mayor did to cover it up, here are some other reasons this speech is shaping up as must-see:

Number of lunch reservations made as of Feb. 20, one week before the speech: 310. Sold out.

Typical number of reservations a week before a big-name speaker: 100-150.

Waiting list as of Feb. 24: 79.

Number of requests made by Adams to City Club to limit the subjects of audience questions: Zero, according to City Club.

Front-runner for “Understatement of the Year”: CityClub’s press release:“Since his landslide victory in the May 2008 election, the new mayor has faced two major and unexpected challenges: a personal controversy and the most severe economic crisis since the Great Depression.”

Interest in the “personal controversy”: “I’m hoping to...ask him some fairly sharp questions,” says board member Tom Cox, the 2002 Libertarian candidate for governor. “I’d like to know what he wouldn’t do to advance his career.”

Interest in the “severe economic crisis”: “We’ve got big issues that we’ve got to move on,” says board member Adam Davis, a partner in the polling firm Davis, Hibbitts Midghall. “I’m prepared to...see what the investigation concludes.”

 
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