Wednesday's Wall Street Journal highlighted Portland's streetcar in an article about several other cities hoping to emulate our system: Cincinnati; Kansas City; Atlanta; Ft. Lauderdale and Salt Lake City.
The article contains at least one quote sure to please mayoral candidate Charlie Hales. He's not mentioned in the story but oversaw the development of the streetcar when he served as city commissioner from 1992 to 2002.
"Portland wasn't like a mecca before. It was another dirty mid-sized city," David Johnson, the leader of Streetcar Neighbors, a Kansas City streetcar booster group told The Journal.
It's the second newspaper story this summer to paint Portland as Streetcar Utopia.
But there's one area where Hales' proclivity for streetcars may cost him. In the primary, Tin House Publisher Win McCormack gave Hales $5,000 and State Rep. Jefferson Smith (D-Portland) just $2,500. That might have indicated a preference for Hales.
But in the general election, filings show that McCormack, long one of the Democratic Party's largest donors, has given each candidate $5,000. (Both candidates contrived to accept the checks before imposing their highly contrived campaign contribution limits.)
So why the shift toward Smith? Well, here's one possibility. McCormack lives in Dunthorpe and has been a staunch opponent of a proposed streetcar line—currently on hold—between Portland and Lake Oswego. Smith is less likely than Hales to be interested in reviving that project.
McCormack could not immediately be reach for comment.