And that's how the mayor's tour of St.Johns businesses began this afternoon—with a surprising conversation with the recently unemployed director of the St.John's Boosters, Gary Boehm, who became unemployed on December 16th after the Murphy bed store he's managed since March last year went out of business.
"Well, I'm sorry to hear that, Gary," said Adams, evidently taken aback.
"That's okay," Boehm responded. "Hey, I can do you a really great deal on a Murphy bed."
Perhaps he won't even need it. It's communities like St.Johns that might be giving Adams some sleepless nights over the coming months, as Portland's City Council faces a "60 year recession" and the prospect of having to make some controversial budget cuts, just as city residents and businesses feel the squeeze more than ever. Of course, you'll probably still be able to buy a "donut designed to look like dirt" in our "quirky" little city, but it may be of little comfort to many...
This afternoon's tour was, in Boehm's words, "a symbolic visit," by Adams, "to show that he cares about small businesses." There are over 44,000 small businesses in Portland, and Adams plans to pass an economic stimulus package to support many of them soon, although the details are still unclear.
Having lunched at the Ladybug coffee shop around the corner (Adams ate a marinated tuna sandwich, some curried vegetable soup, and left half his Yukon gold fries, but then again, he did tell the Mercury on Saturday that "I'm trying to lose weight..."), Adams stopped in at the defunct Murphy store before setting off on his tour of area businesses. First stop? Weir Cycles, where Adams talked with local residents like Bonnie Meltzer, who voiced their concerns about "so many empty buildings that have been empty, in some cases for five years, that are a detriment to the growth of the area."
Adams said St.Johns is in a difficult spot, because unlike other areas of town, it hasn't benefited from Tax Increment Financing through the Portland Development Commission, and has had to fend for itself. "I think in other neighborhoods we're able to help more," he said. Another resident asked if he planned to close the cops' North Precinct, a cost-saving measure that was only narrowly averted by Tom Potter in his last term. Adams ducked the question, saying he was planning to "kick the tires on everything" before any cuts are made. Then, it was down to the basement to meet with Ira Ryan, who runs a custom frame-making business. Cue a Sam Adams/Portland version of the "kissing a baby" shot:
More St.Johns business nightmares after the jump. Meanwhile, are you coming to Adams' party at City Hall? It started at five, and runs 'til seven. Coughprobablyfreebeercoughcough.
See you there.
Ryan, who ran the custom frame business, said he'd enjoyed meeting Adams, and told the Mercury "it'd be hard for him to do a worse job than Tom Potter, as far as being charismatic is concerned. He's a lot more willing to take steps forward, it seems." Next up, Adams hit the Tre Bone dog shop, where owner Serge Ouattara said he was excited about Adams' plans for an economic stimulus package:
...followed by a long conversation with Jake Shivery, owner of Blue Moon Camera and Machine:
Shivery told Adams that St.Johns needs better transportation—"every single person I talk to tells me St.Johns is so far away...my girlfriend gets the bus here from Southeast and it takes her an hour and a half," he said, floating the idea of a ferry from downtown to improve connections between the neighborhoods. Adams told him the city had looked into the idea of a ferry but that it wasn't economically viable yet. Shivery pushed him to give an incentive for a private ferry operator to make the business work...
Next, Adams was accosted in the street by a guy calling himself "Captain," who asked when Adams was going to bring back former mayor Bud Clark's idea of a mayor's ball. "We are bringing it back," Adams responded. "My version starts at the end of this month..."
Then it was into The Man's Shop for a spot of local clothing:
Followed by one last Sam Adams/Portland version of the "kissing a baby" shot on the way to the plumber's:
Inside the Crouchley Plumbing Company, owner Sam Miller told Adams he's having to pay $1100 a month per employee in medical insurance. Miller said business is "dead," and that he holds out little hope for a change on the insurance issue at the Federal level. Adams offered his sympathies and left.
See you at the party. Bonus points if you arrive on a custom-made bike, although plumbers are also allowed...presumably...
Get the best of the Mercury each week in your inbox!