Until now, as you may be aware, I have been convinced that those pushing hardest for the eviction of Peterson's on SW Morrison are not the mayor, or the city's office of management and finance, but the Portland Business Alliance, whose boss, Sandra McDonogh, hailed the arrival of Brooks Brothers in the Galleria building as "a rejuvenating" occurrence, back in May, 2007. But until now, I have not been able to draw a direct line between the PBA's outspoken lust for downtown gentrification and the eviction of Peterson's.
Private Mayor Vice President of downtown services, Mike Kuykendall, has been remarkably quiet and has maintained his presence in the shadows of Portland government, since the eviction was announced, despite mentioning it with obvious glee at a downtown Public Safety Action Committee meeting last month. But it turns out, Kuykendall and the PBA are the force behind the eviction, after all.
At least, according to those who have been supposedly responsible for the eviction, all along.
City Commissioner Dan Saltzman has embarked on what aides are calling a "due diligence" campaign that could potentially save Peterson's convenience store on Morrison Street. The shop, located in a city-owned parking structure, currently faces eviction on August 15.
Saltzman, like the Mercury, has only received a three-page list of vague complaints about the store from the city's Office of Management and Finance, which oversees the building on Morrison from which Peterson is about to be evicted. On Friday, July 25 Saltzman asked OMF to elaborate and provide more detail on these complaints, at least, according to Saltzman staffer Matt Grumm, on Monday, July 28.
"It's a very vague list," says store owner Doug Peterson. "For example, it says 'various dates' a lot, and 'various times.' It doesn't get very specific about the 'various complaints.' And then it mentions a 'meeting with interested parties' on March 6, including the Portland Business Alliance, the Police Bureau, Portland Patrol, and retailers. But I was never invited to that meeting."
But today, Mary Volm, a spokesperson for OMF, told the Mercury that her office had had "no contact with any city commissioner on this issue. They haven't asked us to answer any questions or give them more information whatsoever."
Volm referred the Mercury, instead, to Central Precinct commander Mike Reese, and Portland Business Alliance Vice President of downtown affairs Mike Kuykendall, "because they're the ones that really led that meeting, [on March 6]," she said. "We didn't document the complaints, they wanted us to take action. So they would have how many calls and what kind of activity."
A spokesperson for Kuykendall is yet to return a call for comment, as is the mayor's spokesman, John Doussard. However, Doussard did email the Mercury, writing that "Mary says your summation of your conversation with her does not reflect what was discussed."
Well, the quote is right there, John, in my notebook. On the record.
Meanwhile, Saltzman has also asked the Police Bureau to provide data on calls for service to Peterson's locations, according to Grumm. Central Precinct crime analysts found that calls for service to Peterson's two stores on Yamhill and Morrison were "significantly above" the calls to his third store on SW 4th and Washington, and to other convenience stores, like Michelle's on SW 5th and Yamhill, Sunny's Market on N. Interstate and the 4th Avenue Smoke Shop at Washington, according to Commander Reese.
While that seems like strong evidence, Peterson point s out that "Michelle's has shorter hours than my store." Peterson's stores are open 24 hours a day, "and my Yamhill and Morrison stores are both on the MAX line."
On an average weekday, 6,000 people board and disembark the MAX in front of Peterson's Morrison Street store, according to Trimet.
Saltzman has also been discussing the issue with fellow commissioners Nick Fish and Randy Leonard, according to their staffers, a council majority that could potentially sway the mayor's eviction decision.
"Dan wants to make sure he understands why the Portland Police Bureau, which he strongly respects, and the mayor, whom he also strongly respects, are so adamant on this issue," said Grumm, on Monday.
Now it appears the reason for the mayor's adamant attitude may be clearer.
Kuykendall is also the driving force behind the city's private police force, the PBA also pays for 3 downtown cops.
"Commissioner Saltzman requested further documentation from the bureau of general services through the mayor," says Grumm, in clarification. "Specifically, when Mr.Peterson was offered a good neighbor agreement, and when he refused it. And for more details than the three page document, which Dan was not satisfied with. He is hoping for more detailed information."
Peterson also has a signed good neighbor agreement for all three of his stores, from 1993. The agreement, called a "community policing partnership agreement," was a predecessor to the city's current good neighbor agreements, Peterson says.
"I know that the Portland Business Alliance has supported Peterson's not renewing their lease," Grumm continues. "But that's all I know."
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