The prospect of Mayor-elect Sam Adams asking current Mayor Tom Potter for advice before taking office in January is about as likely as Christian Bale buying his mom a Mother's Day card.
So, lucky us that the City Club of Portland invited ex-Mayors Bud Clark and Vera Katz to its weekly forum July 25 to offer Adams their own counsel on running the city.
Adams, who has feuded with Potter, actually appeared attentive to Katz and Clark. Katz, who looked in good health despite regular dialysis after a second bout of cancer, drew laughs from Adams and the crowd when she recounted her frustration at Council decisions while watching its weekly meetings on TV. Clark's observations were also funny but less pointed—"when you're mayor of Portland, you do not have time to drink," among them.
But will Adams actually follow advice from the two seventysomething mayors when he takes charge? Let's make an educated guess by looking at the ex-mayors' recommendations and Adams' track record as a commissioner.
The advice: Clark says it made sense for him when he was mayor from 1985 through 1992 to run the Police Bureau.
The rationale: Clark says many Portlanders looked on police as an "occupying army," and that he needed control of the bureau to ensure it adopted a friendlier "community policing" approach. Clark hedged his suggestion with a caveat that Adams could assign police to another commissioner who has the "passion" for it.
Will Adams listen?: Doesn't look like it. All signs point to Adams wanting to give the bureau to Commissioner Randy Leonard, who certainly has the "passion" for it (see "Randy & Rosie" in this issue for more).
The advice: Katz says fight the temptation to spend all available money. Instead, set aside some of the cash for future infrastructure needs.
The rationale: Katz, who kept tight control of writing the budget when she was mayor from 1993 through 2004, says the current Council needs to plan better for a rainy day.
Will Adams listen?: His track record says no. He was front and center this year in looking to shake loose more money for everything from the arts to transportation from a general-fund surplus.
The advice: Katz says not to transfer money from urban renewal districts to areas outside those districts.
The rationale: She says the Council's recent decision to transfer money east out of the Pearl to the David Douglas School District will be deemed illegal by the courts. "You will lose," Katz says.
Will Adams listen?: Uh, too late. He already voted with a unanimous Council to authorize the transfer.
The advice: Clark says find time for yourself. He achieved that by riding his bike for three to four hours each week.
The rationale: Even though he says focusing his getaway time on the bike meant his "upper body went to hell," it also allowed him time to think.
Will Adams listen?: Probably, since Clark's answer came in response to Adams' own question to the ex-mayors about how to reduce the job's toll on a mayor's personal life (see WWire for their answers to his other questions on their biggest failures). But while Adams does ride a bike in bike-happy Portland, we suspect it's all of a piece—he's happiest when he mixes politics with pleasure.
Adams was Katz's chief of staff for more than a decade.