January 5th, 2011 5:33 pm | by NIGEL JAQUISS News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, Politics

Metro Musical Chairs: If Bob Stacey Had 1000 More Friends...


In the wake of Metro Councilor Robert Liberty's resignation, former 1000 Friends of Oregon Executive Director Bob Stacey is so far the front-runner to serve out the remaining two years of Liberty's term.

Yesterday, new Metro Council President Tom Hughes said Stacey was the only potential successor who had formally announced interest in the job, although Hughes says he expects others to express interest. Liberty leaves the council Jan, 15 and Hughes says under the Metro charter it will take at least a month and probably a couple of public hearings for Hughes and the other council members to agree on a successor.

"Whoever it is, I hope we'll arrive at a consensus, rather than just a majority vote," Hughes says.

One other potential candidate is Gail Achterman, currently the chair of the Oregon Transportation Commission. Achterman, who served as natural resources advisor to former Gov. Neil Goldschmidt. She also worked at the city's largest law firm, Stoel Rives, for nearly two decades.

Achterman says she'd be interested in replacing Liberty but thinks Stacey is the front-runner.

"My bet is that Bob Stacey will replace Robert," she told WW via email. "They live next door to one another and are old friends. If Bob was not interested I would be though."

One piece of context missing from the coverage of Liberty's departure so far: Liberty's annual salary will jump from $38,156 at Metro to $92,000 as director of the University of Oregon's Sustainable Cities Initiative.

He says he took the job for the opportunity to make U of O's program a national leader, but that's also a healthy raise.

The financial difference also highlights the cost to Stacey of the 1,003 votes by which he lost the Metro president's race last November to Hughes—aka Stacey's need for "1000 more friends." (The margin was about one-third the unusually high tally of write-in votes. That's noteworthy because the wife of Councilor Rex Burkholder, who ran unsuccessfully for Metro president in the May 2010 primary against Hughes and Stacey, urged supporters in the November general election to “write in Rex.”)

As council president, Hughes will earn $114,468, or three times what Stacey will make as a councilor if he replaces Liberty. That's not only a big haircut for finishing in second place but will have longer-term impact on the pensions that both men will earn.
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