Rubio and Gonzalez Spar Over Clean Energy Fund

Rubio says a Gonzalez staffer’s attempt to schedule a work session without her office on board was sneaky.

COLLABORATIVE: City Commissioner Carmen Rubio. (Brian Burk)

In a meeting of the Portland City Council’s chiefs of staff on March 21, Shah Smith, who serves as chief to Commissioner Rene Gonzalez, asked to schedule a public work session on the future of the Portland Clean Energy Fund. That tax on large retailers, intended to fund climate-preparedness infrastructure, is flush with cash and overseen by Commissioner Carmen Rubio.

Absent from that meeting, however, was Rubio’s chief of staff. Council etiquette calls for the commissioner in charge of a program to schedule a work session.

When Smith followed up with his fellow chiefs that day in an email with potential dates, three offices—not including Rubio’s—took issue with his request because Rubio’s office wasn’t present for the discussion.

In a statement, Rubio says Smith’s attempt to schedule a work session without her office on board was sneaky. Rubio said: “I can only conclude that this was by design. Commissioner Gonzalez, my other colleagues and every other person I’ve worked with throughout my career knows that I take a collaborative approach to tough issues.…And given that has always been my approach, it will continue.”

Gonzalez, the most conservative member of the council, has said for the past several months that he’d like to take PCEF back to voters for major changes, an idea reviled by progressives who championed the tax six years ago.

Gonzalez and Rubio are, not coincidentally, the two leading candidates for Portland mayor.

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