IMAGE: kelly hamby
Who knew there were so many pink-skinned, bow-tied, seer-suckered, John Houseman in The Paper Chase-ian old guys in Portland? We have a whole bunch of 'em, and they all seem to be members of the City Club. Miss Dish got to take them all in at a recent City Club meeting al fresco at Pioneer Courthouse Square last Friday, where the topic was "Creating a Vibrant Public Market in Portland."
The press release announcing the lunchtime hoo-ha raised Miss Dish's hopes that the task force, led by Ron Paul of commissioner Charlie Hales' office, was finally ready to announce where it would plop the much-ballyhooed Portland Public Market. Miss D. couldn't help getting excited: She was part of the ballyhooing. Last summer she commented on the future and past of the public market in the City of Roses with much enthusiasm. Well, she's still excited, but her patience is being tested. Let's break some ground already, guys!
The panel at the City Club meeting included Hales, Paul, Harris Hiffman, former prez of Seattle's Pike Place Market, and Len Pickell from the James Beard Foundation, which is now embarking on a partnership with the fledgling market. It's possible that the new market will be named for our late prince of pigging out. The foundation will sponsor an ooh-la-la penny-catching dinner here in P-town featuring chefs from around the country, collaborating on five courses of fund-raising finger-licking goodness (start saving now; you'll need to cough up $1,000 a plate for the cause).
Ah, those City Clubbers know how to get to the point: More than one approached the mike and demanded to know where the market will call home. Mr. Paul wouldn't budge--it's down to three possible spots, and he's not going to play favorites (the Central Fire Station on Naito Parkway, the Old Post Office at 511 Northwest Broadway and the site of the former Monte Carlo restaurant on Southeast Belmont Street between 10th and 11th avenues). When will this happen? Miss D. guesses you'll be chomping on Krispy Kremes long before you'll stroll the aisles of the new market.
As we pesky Portlanders are well aware, there's little cooked up in the public sphere that isn't chopped, diced, whisked, puréed and blended beforehand. Paul's task-forcing does seem to be going at an escargot's pace, but when it comes to markets there's a multitude of interests. In fact, right across from the tent where the luncheon was held, a special version of the Portland Farmers Market took over the Square. The owner of the Canby Asparagus Market manning the booth across the way didn't want to offer his name, but did voice his concern that this new market would outshine the little local growing guy in favor of vendors that import a wider range of out-of-season product. "People are price-conscious," said Mr. Asparagus. "It's the yuppies vs. the regular consumer, and the consumers always outnumber the yuppies." These equations and more will have to be dealt with by the Portland Marketeers.
To volunteer for the Portland Public Market think tank, call Charlie Hales' office, 823-4682.
Past Miss Dish dishin' on the public market: www.wweek.com/html/missdish090600.html and www.wweek.com/html/missdish083000.html