Novick to PBOT: "We Shall Fight in the Streets"

Yes, that's Churchill.

City Commissioner Steve Novick wrote a mass email this week to employees at the Portland Bureau of Transportation, reasserting his commitment to raising $50 million a year for road repair with a "street fee."

In the July 7 email, Novick pledges his dedication to finding new money by quoting Winston Churchill's 1940 speech to the British House of Commons vowing to defeat Nazi Germany.

"'We shall fight on the beaches," Novick writes, "'we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender,' until we have won the additional resources you need."

Novick admits elswhere in his email that World War II may not be the most apt analogy for a political exercise: "I realize that's not a particularly appropriate quote, but it's so inspiring," he writes.

He goes on to explain that city officials will create more comprehensive lists of what the "street fee" would fund, and offer more information to the public about how current budgets are spent.

The email comes a month after Novick and Mayor Charlie Hales delayed a City Council vote on the street fee, which would charge Portland households $144 a year and businesses much more. Since then, Novick has been on a goodwill tour explaining the plan to media and the public.

This is the second time Novick has used World War II analogies in making his case for the fee. In June, he responded to City Commissioner Nick Fish's questions about taxing poor people with a letter addressed, "Dear Captain Renault"—a reference to the corrupt military police officer in Casablanca who was "shocked, shocked" to discover gambling at Rick's bar.

Read WW's interview with Novick about his plans to pass the street fee here.

The full text of Novick's letter to PBOT staff is below (bolding and italics are his).