Vera Katz bids farewell

katz-speech.jpgI attended Vera Katz’s final “State of the City” speech at the City Club Friday. I recommend reading the speech itself and the Oregonian’s account of the speech.

This was the first City Club event I’d been to, but the appeal is immediately obvious. All sorts of political folks get together in one place. You see people you know, meet people you don’t, and maybe get to hear an interesting presentation. I ended up talking with a guy named Sy who was involved in local government in a bunch of different ways, and definitely had his share of opinions about our leaders.

Mayor Katz’s speech was very optimistic and cheery. She put a happy face on everything that’s happened during her time in Portland. There was no mention of police shootings and abuse of protestors. She didn’t mention big companies like Columbia Sportswear leaving — she claimed companies were moving here and expanding, “adding shifts.” She talked about big ideas like luring Major League Baseball, but didn’t mention that bathrooms in our public parks have been closed for years for lack of maintenance funds.

When she shifted out of praise-Portland mode and into considering how to improve Portland, her concerns were centered around livability, and how livability affects the economy. Issues like access to the waterfront, affordable housing, tolerance, and diversity. She talked about “the creative class” so much I thought she might have been cribbing from former mayoral candidate Phil Busse’s platform! She ought to — the future of Portland’s economy depends on the young, educated, mobile people who make up that class. If Portland’s not attracting and retaining those people, we’re in trouble in the long run. It’s an important thing to focus on, and I hope Tom Potter has livability at the very top of his list of priorities.

If you want to see more of Vera Katz, all we know so far is that she will be affiliated with PSU’s College of Urban and Public Affairs, in an as-yet-undefined role. I think it’s the right place to be, if she wants to continue to have an effect on livability, getting into the heads of Portland’s future planners.

And with that, out with the old, and in with the new. When’s Tom Potter’s inauguration? I have a feeling the new mayor is going to generate a lot of news.

1 Comment so far

  1. The One True b!X (unregistered) on December 13th, 2004 @ 2:34 pm

    Potter will be sworn in on January 3 at David Douglas High School.

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