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May 6th, 2009 BETH SLOVIC | News Stories
 

Project Runaway

Keeping up with City Hall’s reality show.

     
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CANDID CAMERA: Mayor Sam Adams stopped by reporters to talk about his calls to Beau Breedlove—but not the budget—on May 1 at City Hall.
IMAGE: chrisryanphoto.com

Even when he’s not causing three-car collisions in shopping-center parking lots, Mayor Sam Adams has his foot firmly planted on the accelerator these days.

“We’re getting a lot of work done,” Adams told a swarm of reporters on Friday, when his plan to roll out a budget got drowned by news in that morning’s Oregonian about his 2005 phone calls to Beau Breedlove. “We’re delivering on the critical services Portlanders are asking for.”

It’s true no one can quibble with Adams on the number—or the sheer complexity—of the tasks he’s undertaken since taking office.

But many can and do disagree with the mayor on the degree of thoughtfulness he’s brought to bear on those projects. Among them: the on-again-off-again-on-again baseball-soccer deal with Merritt Paulson, the proposed “headquarters hotel” near the Oregon Convention Center, a 12-lane Columbia River Crossing, and Adams’ latest pitch—his push to take over Multnomah County’s bridges.

While Adams races around (see wweek.com for more on the collision he and his pickup caused May 3) and as the threat of Oregon Attorney General John Kroger’s criminal investigation hangs like Kryptonite over City Hall, WW stopped to consider the questions of the day.

What’s the meaning of last week’s Oregonian story on Adams’ phone calls to Breedlove?

The Oregonian’s investigation of Adams’ private phone records revealed Adams called Breedlove 33 times before Breedlove turned 18. That suggests Adams had more contact with Breedlove than the mayor had acknowledged previously, even though he had never specifically stated how many times he had called Breedlove.

The story also suggested the two may have been in City Hall at a First Thursday party earlier than both Breedlove and Adams have indicated—when Breedlove was a couple months younger. Months earlier, Breedlove told The Oregonian he and Adams kissed in the City Hall bathroom at a First Thursday event on June 2, 2005. Adams’ public calendar says he was out of town that week.

Finally, the story included new—and conflicting—information from two City Hall security guards. One guard, Glenn Clark, recalled how another guard, Jacoby Demissie, told him he “just saw Sam Adams having sex with this younger guy in the bathroom.” Demissie denies that. Breedlove, who denies that anything more than a kiss took place, acknowledges a guard entered the restroom when he was there with Adams. But Breedlove says the guard was white, and Demissie is African-American.

Adams, who has said he had sex with Breedlove only after Breedlove turned 18, has refused to respond to the latest revelations.

What’s the status of Kroger’s investigation?

Now well into its fourth month, the investigation of Adams’ relationship with Breedlove (and the ensuing coverup) is a hot topic in City Hall, mostly because Kroger’s office is so tight-lipped. Kroger spokesman Tony Green says he can’t comment on the investigation’s scope or timing.

What’s the mood in City Hall?

Unstable, until Kroger’s investigation concludes. Several allies and enemies alike acknowledge Adams’ office is chaotic. That manifests itself in two ways: Either Adams frenetically jumps on a project, like razing the Coliseum, or confusion reigns in bureaus over just who’s directing the work.

What’s fallen off the mayor’s agenda?

Adams campaigned in 2008 as the education mayor and promised to help the city cut the high-school dropout rate by half. Adams’ 2009-2010 general fund budget contained $318,250 in his mayor’s office budget for education initiatives, about .06 percent of the overall general fund budget of about $530 million. He has upped spending on youth programs by 40 percent.

What’s the 2009-2010 budget got to do with this?

In the middle of all this, Adams pulled off a budget that manages to satisfy all four commissioners while also cutting almost $10 million. Two departments that took big hits include Adams’ own bureaus, the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability and the Office of Transportation. When the Council adopts the budget, it could be a 5-0 vote, suggesting Adams knows how to make friends when he must.

Who would be in the mix to replace Adams as mayor if he steps down or is recalled?

Among the names floating around are Multnomah County Chairman Ted Wheeler, County Commissioner Jeff Cogen, and former city commissioners Jim Francesconi and Charlie Hales. If current commissioners such as Randy Leonard or Nick Fish wanted to run to replace Adams, they would not have to resign from their posts.

What are the RecallSamAdams.org people up to?

Jasun Wurster, one of the organizers of RecallSamAdams.org, says his volunteer group will have 50,000 signatures within 90 days of their July 1 start date, well above the required 32,183. The city auditor has 10 days to verify signatures after getting them. If there are enough signatures, Adams then has five days to either resign or issue a 200-word “statement of justification” explaining why he should stay. Within 35 days of that statement, there’s a recall election. In order to oust Adams, recall advocates must get 50 percent of the vote plus one. There would then be a separate election to replace Adams, which could be as late as May 2010.

 
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