IMAGE: THOMAS COBB
Yet based on the past week, there may be one Portlander even less ballot-worthy than the Nose. Matt Hennessee, the glib chairman of the Portland Development Commission, has been browsing for an office to pursue for months. This Monday, according to an email circulated in April, some "friends of Matt Hennessee" had planned to meet at a Northeast Portland homeless shelter to mull his electoral prospects.
Some advice: Sober up.
Last Wednesday, the five-member PDC board voted unanimously to award the Burnside Bridgehead development to Opus Northwest, snubbing Brad Malsin, the ex-eye doctor whose plan won the heart of the Central Eastside neighborhood.
The Nose has no idea whether PDC made the right move. That's not his concern.
What is bugging the Nose is the mawkishly clubby way it unfolded, which suggests Hennessee's political judgment comes from the Dick Cheney school of polish. At last Wednesday's meeting, billed as the event where PDC would select a developer, Hennessee read a terse statement, prepared in advance, that made it clear the commission had decided to support Opus before the meeting. Wham, bam, thank you, ma'am!
Now, the Nose isn't naive enough to think this never happens, public-meeting law be damned. What stunned the Nose was that Hennessee made absolutely no bones about engineering the "vote" beforehand. Um, hell-oooooo, Matt? After nearly a dozen packed hearings, you think maybe the citizens wanted at least the appearance of a debate? But even that shoddy bit of policymaking pales in comparison with the curious relationship Hennessee has with Nathaniel Clevenger, a public-relations specialist hired by Opus Northwest months ago to run interference in its campaign for the Bridgehead job.
What's the problem with that? Only that earlier this year, Clevenger had two communications contracts with PDC -one for $40,000 and another for $55,000. Among his responsibilities? Speechwriting for Hennessee.
And the fellow assembling the effort to find Hennessee an elected office? You guessed it! The very same Clevenger.
So just to review: The PR guy for the winning Bridgehead team has also recently been on PDC's payroll and is currently on board Hennessee's personal political voyage. Hennessee and Clevenger undoubtedly claim all is OK because they revealed this connection to the PDC board. Big deal. If Hennessee doesn't understand that revealing conflicts doesn't allow you to still engage in them, he's got a bit of learning to do.
An associate of the Nose spoke this week to Clevenger, who said the Hennessee exploratory party had been suddenly canceled. What a shame. It's my understanding that the position of social chairman at Kappa Kappa Zeppelin is available. All that's required is a steady hand with a keg nozzle.