March 11th, 2009 | by BETH SLOVIC News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, Politics, Sports, City Hall

MLS Update: Ted Wheeler: "I'm New On the Job, But I Wasn't Born Yesterday"


Passive aggressive smackdown in City Hall right now.

Multnomah County Chair Ted Wheeler testified around noon on the merits, or lack thereof, of the proposal advanced by Mayor Sam Adams and Commissioner Randy Leonard to help bring Major League Soccer to Portland.

A not-so-pleasant skirmish between Wheeler and Leonard ensued over the deal's possible use of urban renewal funds.

The exchange started pleasantly enough. Wheeler said politely he wished he'd been brought to the table sooner to discuss the possible impacts to the free-falling county budget of using urban renewal funds on soccer.

Leonard responded testily. He said the city hadn't committed to using urban renewal funds yet and noted that the county would be at the table to discuss the MLS deal going forward.

Leonard also read a list of county projects the city has helped fund over the years. He even dangled the Sellwood Bridge in front of Wheeler, reminding the county chair that he had recently asked the city to contribute some of Portland's state transportation funds to the project. The overall message? Don't come pick a fight with your sugar daddy, Wheeler, you're lucky the city even talks to you.

In true Portland style, this message was blunted with passive aggressive "thank yous" and nods of backhanded graciousness. "Those are great remarks if you're running for office," Leonard at one point told Wheeler.

It won't surprise anyone to learn Wheeler appeared to grow angry about this schooling at Leonard's hands. "I'm new on the job, but I wasn't born yesterday," Wheeler told him.

Forty-four people are signed up to testify today. At 12:40 pm, the council was listening to person No. 4.
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