February 11th, 2010 5:33 pm | by BETH SLOVIC News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, City Hall

Bike Plan: City Council Exacts Revenge on Saltzman. Cyclists Win. Did Saltzman, Too?

Saltzman City Hall

Without consulting Commissioner Dan Saltzman or the Bureau of Environmental Services, Mayor Sam Adams this afternoon proposed using $20 million of BES money to help build Portland's Bicycle Plan for 2030.

The last-minute move appears to have been a calculated case of retribution directed at Saltzman for his surprise funding amendment last week. And the tapping of BES certainly caught BES head Dean Marriott by surprise.

"It's complete news to me," he told WW of Adams' idea. "To answer your question, no one's spoken to me about that."

This afternoon, just moments before Adams' BES proposal, Saltzman introduced his old idea for using utility license fees to "jumpstart" the plan. He modified his proposal slightly by asking that it at least be considered alongside other funding mechanisms when Adams' stakeholder group on the bike plan convenes.

Saltzman's modest move didn't even get a second. The motion failed, then Adams introduced his idea to "kickstart" funding. According to Adams, BES could help fund the bike plan out of savings from its Big Pipe project in conjunction with BES's "green streets" initiative. Adams said the idea would come together "where bicycle boulevards and green streets meet." Saltzman is in charge of BES.

Commissioner Nick Fish provided an assist in the collective F-U thrust at Saltzman. "Thank you, mayor," Fish said, after Adams introduced his idea. "This is your moment."

Saltzman, clearly caught off guard, was gracious. "I'm fully prepared to embrace the concept," he said, before noting he would like to consider the impact of Adams' idea on ratepayers.

Commissioner Randy Leonard followed Saltzman by heaping more praise on the mayor. "I think his idea is ingenious," Leonard said. (Yesterday, BikePortland.org reported a comment from Leonard which suggested he questioned Saltzman's motives for the amendment.)

Commissioner Amanda Fritz passed Adams a handwritten note applauding him for his effort.

Bicyclists and advocates for the bike plan are clearly the big winners. They just got a $20 million commitment of one-time funding for a plan that just yesterday had very little money attached to it. But one could also make the case that Saltzman is a winner, too, despite the very plain attempt by his fellow commissioners to embarrass him.

If Saltzman's idea was to get Adams to actually commit to funding his plan rather than just convening yet another blue-ribbon panel, his tactics (although not pretty) were successful.
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