Hales Forces PBOT Director Tom Miller to Resign

Charlie Hales didn't wait until he took office to get rid of controversial Portland Bureau of Transportation director Tom Miller.

Hales expects to receive a letter of resignation tonight from Miller, says Hales' Chief of Staff Gail Shibley. She says the resignation will be effective Feb. 4—the day all city bureau budgets are due.

"Mayor-elect Hales has been very clear and very consistent that he wants to go a different direction with PBOT, and Mr. Miller is not the one to lead PBOT in that direction," Shibley says.

Miller entered politics as a skateboarding advocate, pushing for a citywide skatepark system. He volunteered on Sam Adams' 2004 City Council campaign.

Adams named him chief of staff following that election and kept Miller in that position after winning the 2008 mayor's race.

Miller quickly developed a reputation as Adams' uncompromising hatchet man. When Adams named him head of the Portland Bureau Of Transportation in 2011, handing his top aide a 50 percent pay increase to $150,000, the appointment was maligned in City Hall as a reward for personal loyalty. Miller, a graduate of Lewis & Clark Law School, appeared to lack the industry credentials and management experience that running a 740-person agency with a $250 million budget requires. 

At PBOT, Miller became a lightning rod for the transportation debates that characterized Adams' administration—including the perception that a car-hating PBOT favored bicycle projects over paving roads.

Earlier this year, with Adams having decided not to seek a second term, Miller tried to jump ship. He applied for a transportation director job in Tucson, Ariz. and was briefly awarded the position—before Tucson rescinded the offer in August after Miller failed a background check.