April 21st, 2009 5:33 pm | by BETH SLOVIC News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, Politics, City Hall, Multnomah County

Adams to Wheeler: I'll Fund The Sellwood Bridge, If You Support The Convention Center Hotel

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Multnomah County Chairman Ted Wheeler got a response from Mayor Sam Adams today on whether the city would help the county get federal matching funds to replace the Sellwood Bridge, as Wheeler proposed in March [PDF]. The City Council has now had six weeks to consider that request.

According to Wheeler, who met Tuesday afternoon with Adams, the mayor told the county chairman he would support funding the Sellwood Bridge replacement if the chairman supported the Oregon Convention Center hotel.

By Thursday.

"The mayor had previously stated several times the Sellwood Bridge is the City of Portland's top transportation priority," Wheeler told WW after his meeting with the mayor. "In meeting with the mayor today I asked him again whether they were prepared to make any kind of a commitment with regard to a local match on the Sellwood Bridge, and the mayor indicated he would be willing to support it provided that I would agree to support the headquarters hotel by Thursday. As you can imagine I told him 'no.' I would need more time to look at a project of that complexity."

The mayor, Wheeler said, just provided him with information today about the proposed hotel's financial assumptions.

"I don't trade votes," Wheeler said. "These are two completely separate issues. They're both complex in and of their own right. People can have different opinions on these issues as a matter of policy. I think people need to weigh the issues completely separately and not co-mingle them."

To consider Adams' proposal, Wheeler says he needs time to examine the project's funding. "I cannot possibly do that by Thursday, nor will I try," Wheeler said.

The two leaders did, however, agree to split the cost of a number of services like the Hooper Detoxification Center, whose funding had been threatened by the current economic downturn, Wheeler says.

Roy Kaufmann, a spokesman for the mayor, didn't immediately return a message seeking comment.
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