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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

And So Sam Adam's Tenure Begins With a Tap Dancing Saxophonist

Posted by Sarah Mirk on Tue, Jan 6, 2009 at 1:52 PM

Last night, City Hall was a circus. No, seriously. Clowns, stiltwalkers and acrobats navigated among the ample crowd that turned out for Sam Adam's "Come Meet Your New Mayor and City Council" party. There was free beer, free cheese squares and (perhaps) more importantly, Adams and newly-elected councilwoman Fritz spent the whole two hour event talking with anyone who could snag their attention, from real estate developers to, yes, the tap dancing saxophonist.

The downstairs of City Hall was transformed into a stage and mingling-area and people crowded the second and third floor railings to get a good view of the action. Miranda, a spandex-clad acrobat in a group called Kazum (that's her splayed out in the air below ), said she voted for Fritz but couldn't recall exactly why. "I read about why I should vote for these people and then I forget all about them afterwards," she said. Echoing a similar sentiment, the MC of the night joked that this was the first time anyone in his troupe had been in a City building not wearing handcuffs. Will the motley arts and culture crowd be coming around City Hall more often now that Adams is mayor? It's hard to keep policy exciting post-election. Especially when its competing for constituents' attention against, say, fire juggling.

clowns_in_city_hall.jpg

The scene in Amanda Fritz's new corner office on the second floor was much more sedate. A steady stream of constituents made their way through her door to congratulate her on the election and put in their two cents on her priorities. After she chit-chatted with a former OHSU workmate (it's still up in the air whether Fritz can even volunteer at OHSU or whether that would violate rules against city councilors working outside jobs), the historic Old Town/Skidmore team showed up to arrange a meeting. Fritz is looking busy. She will likely have to cut many of her bureau's budgets by 20-25 percent. "We've got some really great services and programs, so how do we go about keeping them?" she asks. The first step, she says, is making city government more efficient. "Policies and procedures!" Fritz exclaimed. Her old job at the hospital involved very strict policies for almost everything. But as she's learning how to do things at the city, Fritz says the answer often is, "Some do it this way, some do it that way, or you can just make up a new way! I think there is a lot of time wasted."

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Fritz: Mad about plaid and policies

Adams has asked that each commissioner come up with a "100 Day Plan" to lay out exactly what they want to focus on in the first hundred days of the new term. Instead, Fritz says she's come up with a "100 Day Question Plan" — a list of basic policy and procedure questions she wants answered within 100 days. The first question: "How do we get chairs? And paper?"

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