June 4th, 2009 5:33 pm | by BETH SLOVIC News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, City Hall

Mercy Corps: "Is This The Way The City of Portland Works?"

Made in Oregon

Mercy Corps, which is soon moving into new headquarters in Old Town, had an interesting take on the "Made in Oregon" sign debate and its connection to a largely unrelated parking lease in a tentative deal between the city and the University of Oregon.

When Mercy Corps moves into its new headquarters, the university will be the humanitarian group's new neighbor. Both the university and Mercy Corps would like to be able to use the parking lot between their two buildings.

On May 13, 2009, Mercy Corps' chief financial officer, Stephen Mitchell wrote [PDF] a blistering letter to Portland's elected leaders:
"Recently, we were extremely disappointed to learn that City Council members and the University of Oregon have initiated -- and nearly concluded -- negotiations that would result in an exclusive lease to the University of Oregon of this parking space, apparently the result of the University of Oregon's negotiation with the city over the 'Made in Oregon' sign. Mercy Corps was completely excluded from this process; we were not informed of any of the details. Is this the way the City of Portland works?"

Ouch. The public record shows Mayor Sam Adams' office trying to make sure Mercy Corps' interests were represented in the negotiations.

On May 11, an attorney for the university spoke with Mitchell to tell Mercy Corps the lease agreement hadn't been finalized and that the university would preserve Mercy Corps' use of the parking lot.

Through a spokeswoman, Mitchell says Mercy Corps still hasn't gotten an official response to his letter, however.
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