On June 30, Portland City Council
will hold what may be one of its most intense hearings this year.
Two prominent families who own big pieces of downtown property —the Goodmans, who own City Center Parking
and 25 downtown blocks; and the Schlesingers, who own Star Park
and a smaller but significant amount of property— will turn out to voice their displeasure
with the city's intention to award a $10 million parking garage contract to a Nashville firm.
That decision, made in April after a five-month process, seems at odds with the council's "buy-local" focus and also potentially puts council members at odds with two families who count nearly every major local property or business interest as an ally.
One of the subtexts of the controversy is the role of Roy Jay,
the influential president of the African-American Chamber of Commerce. Jay, a familiar face at City Hall and a close ally of City Commissioner Randy Leonard, was a key part of Star Park's ability to win the city garage management contract in 2003. At the time, Jay brought together other minority chambers of commerce and with Star, made a compelling case for letting a new operation have a crack at the garages, which City Center had operated since 1983.
On June 18, in a strongly-worded letter to the city attorney's office, City Center President Greg Goodman
took a swipe at Jay, who earlier this month announced he was going to be partnering with Central Parking System, the Nashville firm that has apparently won the city contract. Here's what Goodman wrote:
As you are more than likely aware, Mr. Roy Jay has jumped the Star Park ship and is now part of the Central Team. First, at risk of stating the obvious, Mr. Jay did this after the RFP had concluded and Central should receive no benefit for having Mr. Jay as part of their team. Secondly, Mr. Jay has been part of the Star Park Team that has run the Smart Park System for the past 5 years. Under Mr. Jay's own admission, he is not involved in the operation of the Smart Park operations, security or janitorial. He brings City contacts and political clout. By comparison, City Center Parking has subcontracted with Hasan Artharee and Vicente Harrison (M/W/ESB) to provide the security and janitorial services at the Smart Park facilities. We have also financially partnered with the [Oregon Association of Minority Entrepreneurs] to ensure M/W/ESB bidding on all subcontracting services and supplies.
Asked to respond to those comments, Jay said he would "take the high road."
The comment about “jumping ship” in totally inaccurate. They did not seem to tell you the other part of the story when they attempted to recruit me to be a part of their bid within the last two weeks before the deadline and I declined. I had also made Star Park aware of the Goodman offer. While the Goodmans were disappointed, they sounded like that they understood and respected my decision. To read now that they indicate that I was not involved in the Smart Park operations is a gross understatement. I have been involved in everything from the employee training to some amounts of the strategic planning to job recruitment to adding additional parking customers which includes Multnomah County Sherriff's office as well as the Metro Parking garages and other aspects. This is not even to mention that I am probably the only one on the executive level that has been around the garages sometimes as late at 11:30 in the evening just to make sure that everything is going smoothly, interacting with employees, customers and security personnel. In just about all competitive situations, I think that at least sent one of the Goodmans a congratulations email. At this point, I'm am taking the high road because at the end of the day this is about promoting “my city” Portland, Oregon over personal profits and issues.