May 6th, 2009 5:33 pm | by BETH SLOVIC News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, Politics, City Hall

Leonard Takes Aim at Fritz for "Delay Tactics"

Randy Amanda

City Council wasn't in a kumbaya mood this morning.

Veteran city Commissioner Randy Leonard sharply criticized newbie Commissioner Amanda Fritz at this morning's City Council session after Fritz sought a delay on an ordinance (PDF) from Leonard and Mayor Sam Adams that would extend the expiration dates of land-use decisions. The goal of the ordinance is to give builders more time to complete projects stalled by the current recession.

Fritz asked for more time before a final vote because she says she learned about the details of the proposal on Friday, only a few days before it came up today to the council. But Leonard called her request a delay tactic rather than a quest for new information.

"I get the information the same time you do and I have yet to, in seven years, ask the council to hold something over," Leonard shot back. (Not that Leonard ever anticipated he and Fritz might have issues.)

Adams, who will be in Brussels next week, agreed to postpone consideration of the ordinance until May 20 anyway.

But the testy exchange was really just a prelude to the council's contentious 4-1 vote on the Street Access For Everyone ordinance, (PDF) also known as "sit-lie." That vote extends the August 2007 prohibition on "obstructing" sidewalks in certain parts of downtown Portland until Oct. 23, "to allow time for a City wide public involvement process to educate, assess performance measures and engage citizens in the evaluation of the Street Access For Everyone package."

Commissioner Nick Fish, a sponsor of the ordinance, spoke at length before voting "yes," saying the new process will give the public information about strengthening the original ordinance, if it goes forward in some new form. Commissioner Dan Saltzman simply voted "aye."

Then Leonard chimed in. He said he was "appalled" because public process was being used as a justification for keeping a sidewalk ordinance, even if only temporarily, that "does not work" and targets the city's "most vulnerable" population, including the city's homeless. He voted "no."

When it was Fritz's turn to talk something unusual happened. Earlier during the discussion when Fish was talking, critics of "sit-lie" shouted from their seats in council chambers to challenge Fish. Adams put an end to that, saying he would not tolerate interruptions.

So one of the critics simply walked outside and started yelling at the top of his lungs outside City Hall where no one could stop him. He used an orange traffic cone to amplify his voice. "I can't stand it anymore," he screamed, before launching into a rendition of The Star Spangled Banner as the mayor voted "yes."
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