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Friday, November 1, 2013

Hales Personally Emails Assurances to Developer in Right 2 Dream Too Relocation Clash

Posted by Denis C. Theriault on Fri, Nov 1, 2013 at 12:44 PM

An email obtained by the Mercury sheds new light on the quietly influential role Mayor Charlie Hales has claimed in ongoing, tense talks about the relocation of Right 2 Dream Too—revealing, for the first time, that Hales has provided some personal assurances to the Pearl developers and neighbors fighting a plan by Commissioner Amanda Fritz to move the rest area beneath a Broadway Bridge ramp.

The email was sent late October 24, the night before Hales embarked upon a long business trip to China. It was addressed to Dike Dame, president of Williams/Dame, and copied to Hales' chief of staff, Gail Shibley, and Patricia Gardner, president of the Pearl District Neighborhood Association, and Tiffany Sweitzer of Hoyt Street Properties. (We've redacted the email addresses.)

Apparently crafted in response to a missive sent by Dame, Hales basically promised he would personally block any effort, within the next 60 days, to move R2DToo onto the lot Fritz had identified, a Portland Development Commission parking lot better known as Lot 7. Hales, during a contentious city council meeting October 3, had already moved to put that offer on hold. Instead, he'd promised Dame and his partner, Homer Williams, both of them major political donors, that he'd give the developers more time to find an alternative.

"I will not authorize its relocation to any city property under my authority during this time, including any property owned by the Portland Development Commission," Hales wrote.

The Pearl group working on that deal, incidentally, issued a statement yesterday praising Hales for his leadership and suggesting a deal with Right 2 Dream Too was close. That announcement, however, was news to the rest area's organizers, and Fritz—as well as the attorney working with R2DToo, Mark Kramer.

That statement wasn't the first time the group had mentioned Hales in a statement but not Fritz. And the statement and the email aren't the only indication the Pearl group clearly feels more comfortable running its communications through Hales' office. Calendars obtained by the Mercury in a public records request this week show Josh Alpert, a senior policy director, has been scheduling twice daily check-in calls with Dame for several days, apparently all at Dame's insistence. (Hales' office says some of the calls have been as long as six words and haven't always been returned. Like when Alpert represented the city in Copenhagen.)

Hales had previously told the Oregonian that the Pearl site was still alive, a 50-50 option. But that was before he apparently worked with Fritz to broker the 60-day negotiation period. A period, I might add, that hasn't been formally agreed upon by attorneys, given that it would require extending the terms of a legal settlement paving the way for R2DToo's move out of Old Town.

Fritz, when reached for comment today, confirmed she had seen the email soon after it was sent, but that she "didn't know that was coming. This came out of left field."

Hales' spokesman, Dana Haynes, declined to immediately comment on the email because he hadn't read it yet.

Update 4:48 PM Ibrahim Mubarak, co-founder of Right 2 Dream Too, has sent a statement reflecting on the past two days of updates:

While in San Francisco for meetings and a conference, I was surprised to see that the Pearl District group claimed through the media to have reached a "tentative deal" with them at a different site, then what we have negotiated with the city. As the lead negotiator on behalf of Right 2 Dream Too not only has no agreement been reached (tentatively or in any other way) we have never even had discussions with any representatives from the Pearl District group as a whole, about this site.

At the City Council meeting (Oct. ) it was said by Homer Williams and Dike Dame along with the Pearl group as they call themselves, that we would all meet together and be transparent, so that it wouldn't be any behind the door stuff. I reiterate, we of R2Too have not been in negotiations together with the Pearl group, city officials, Mark Kramer (our Lawyer). I sincerely hope that the leaders of the Pearl district organization can re-examine what it means to negotiate in good faith as they stated was their intent. It is clearly ours as well. To use good faith means we speak and reach decisions with each other before we send out press releases stating falsehoods and assumptions.

//end update

Update 11 AM Saturday: Fritz sent over a correction late last night, quibbling with inartful wording in the post and saying she hadn't worked with Hales to broker a 60-day window (although, I'll note, she did later announce a tentative agreement on that timeframe, after the mayor first made mention of it in a quick interview with Oregonian).

She also took umbrage with the insinuation that Hales has put a knife in the Pearl relocation for Right 2 Dream Too—using some strong language to say that if Hales can't manage to work out a deal with Dame and Williams that suits Right 2 Dream Too's needs, then he'll be breaking a city promise that Fritz negotiated.

Mayor Hales did not work with me to broker a 60 day negotiation period. He announced it without consulting me.

There is no 60-day negotiation period brokered. Neither I nor Right to Dream Too have agreed to one.

The Pearl site is still alive. I signed a Settlement Agreement on behalf of the City, with the Mayor’s knowledge and consent, agreeing to move Right to Dream Too to Lot 7 (under the Lovejoy ramp of the Broadway Bridge in the Pearl). I will not break a promise given by the City, and by me. The only way Right to Dream Too does not move to Lot 7, is if they are offered and agree to a deal that changes that Agreement. Or, if Mayor Hales breaks the City’s previous promise.

The full Hales email is after the jump.

From: Hales, Charlie
Sent: Thursday, October 24, 2013 10:54 PM
To: Dike Dame
Cc: Shibley, Gail; redacted; redacted

Subject:

Dike - Gail passed on your email from this afternoon.

I will not facilitate or assist moving the Right to Dream Too camp/community to any other location while your are working in good faith toward a solution over the next 60 days. I will not authorize its relocation to any city property under my authority during this time, including any property owned by the Portland Development Commission.

Although it is possible to imagine some scenario whereby the camp is moved outside of my control to property under the authority of some other City Commissioner, some other public body (such as the County or Metro), or some private property owner, I believe the possibility of such a situation is remote.

I hope this assurance is helpful to you as you continue to work in good faith toward a solution, which I appreciate very much.

Thank you,
Charlie Hales
Mayor

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