Let's be clear: Oregon Petroleum Association rep Paul Romain pulled a slimy move last week when he broke a bargain with Commissioner Sam Adams on Adams' $464 million transportation tax.

Yes, Adams has made a case to seek money for new asphalt, traffic signals and bike routes. But Romain makes a valid point (as did crotchety blogger Jack Bogdanski this week): Adams has gone to Roguish lengths to keep Portlanders from voting on his tax when he's also running for mayor.

Until last month, Adams was doing a good job building support for his plan. Then, in order to complicate Romain's ballot-referral threats and legal challenges, Adams broke his transportation package into three chunks.

On Jan. 30, Adams announced Romain had agreed to drop his signature-gathering plans in exchange for reduced fees for his convenience-store clients. (Basically, Adams gave a $1.1 million break to the very folks he now calls "Big Oil" stooges.)

But when a relieved Adams recombined his plan into a single ordinance, Romain reneged, saying he'd agreed to not oppose the "measures," but would still seek to refer the "measure." (Romain argues Adams doesn't know what the meaning of "s" is.)

So why not call Romain's bluff, and take the tax to the ballot? "They have no intention of making this a deal in good faith. They don't have any more good faith," says Adams.

OK. But after watching this duel, it's hard not to conclude that Adams' real motivation is as Romain suggests, that Adams fears voters would reject his tax—and his mayoral candidacy along with it.

On Wednesday, Feb. 6, the City Council hears Adams' plan for the second time, in three parts. And then it's gone till November.