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Friday, February 4, 2011

Lobbying in City Hall: A River Plan Runs Through It?

Posted by Denis C. Theriault on Fri, Feb 4, 2011 at 12:29 PM

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Okay, yes, that's a groan-inducing headline. Sorry. So, anyway ...

The city auditor's office yesterday released the latest batch of city lobbyist and gift reports, covering the last three months of 2010. Click here to pore through 'em. They'll tell you who came to city hall to talk about which issues, as well as which city officials reported receiving (somewhat) bounteous presents.

Who lobbied whom, and about what?

This time, it was the Portland Business Alliance, notching 35 contacts—meetings, phone calls, emails, etc.—with city bureaucrats and elected officials. By far, the two most frequent topics were the troubled River Plan, a years-long effort (championed these days by Mayor Sam Adams) to get businesses to buy into environmental restoration of the Willamette, and a proposed urban renewal district downtown. The PBA reported spending $1,157 on lobbying activities from October through December.

(Here's a bit of standard boilerplate: These are summaries just from "registered lobbyist entities," mind you. So it's not a full accounting of who came to see city officials with concerns. Take a look at officials' calendars if you want more information about who else looking to pull the levers of power.)

Three other groups also came calling so often that they had to make a record of their visits. The League of Women Voters and Sisters of the Road both showed up to talk about the Joint Terrorism Task Force, up for a vote later this month, as well as efforts to improve last year's police oversight law. The Columbia Corridor Association met with commissioners to talk about development rules near the airport.

After the break: Who got the best shit?

As usual, befitting his status as mayor (and head cheerleader) of Portland, Sam Adams received the most loot, some $5,400 worth of dinners, trips, books, and doo-dads. Most of what Adams reported—$3,822—was paid for by the National League of Cities, for a conference in Stockholm last fall. The mayor's former chief of staff, Tom Miller, now the city's transportation director, also joined the mayor on the National League of Cities' dime.

The pickings were much slimmer for the rest of Adams' staff. Only two others reported gifts. Cary Clarke, the mayor's arts and culture policy guru, presumably enjoyed $50 tickets to the circus. Amy Ruiz, the mayor's go-to land-use policy wonk, went to a $150 dinner held by Basic Rights Oregon.

On the surface, it looked like Commissioner Nick Fish had a decent haul, with $225 reported. But two of those gifts, a $150 framed photograph and a $40 drum, were apparently accepted on behalf of the city. All Fish got on his own was a $35 dinner paid for by Providence. Dan Saltzman did a little better, earning $75 worth of presents that would have been excellent fodder for Christmastime regifting: A book about Portland from the sky, an umbrella, and some cookies.

Rounding out the goodies list, Police Chief Mike Reese reported nearly $100 worth of stuff, including a T-shirt provided by the Portland Historical Society, a $9 Christmas ornament given by Gallatin Public Affairs, and a banquet dinner. And Carmen Merlo, director of the office of emergency management, scored a $50 fruit basket on Christmas Eve. How festive.

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