Every autumn in Portland, the City Council considers what's called the "fall bump."
Also known as the fall budget monitoring process, the bump offers elected leaders and the city's financial experts the opportunity to recalibrate spending so what's going out (to bureaus to pay for programs and people) matches what's coming in (from business license fees and other revenue). In flush years, the city sometimes finds it has more money, making the fall bump a bit like Christmas in November.
In this year's tough economy, the fall bump is more like a fall lump—as in a lump of coal. The Portland Police Bureau is being asked to take $283,901 in cuts. Portland Parks & Recreation is facing a $83,112 reduction.
But the Portland Bureau of Transportation, this week's Rogue, is adding three positions and—most galling—one of those spots is for a second spokesman. If City Council approves this on Nov. 18, PBOT will have the same number of spokespeople as Portland's police, who face far more demands from local media than bureaucrats in transportation.
Mayor Sam Adams, who manages the transportation bureau, defends the limited-term position, which will cost the city $69,330 in salary and benefits until June 30, 2010, when the post must be reconsidered as part of the regular budget process. Meantime, Adams says the city needs more "eyes and ears" to tell PBOT where city streets need maintenance.
Eyes and ears to report streets flooded by fall rains? OK. But one more mouth to answer reporters' questions? The Rogue Desk would prefer PBOT fund its maintenance department rather than a new gig for Dan Anderson, who was Adams' "public advocate" in PBOT before he announced in June he was quitting for a job with the feds. After that fell through for unexplained reasons, PBOT created this new spokesman job, which Anderson fills.