This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on January 2, 2005 7:02 PM.
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Just when the holiday spirit was getting me all soft and fuzzy, I pick up the papers and they start the old cynicism flowing again. This time it was the stories about the staff selections by one of the new members of the Portland City Council, Commissioner Sam Adams.
Right off the bat I gave out a hoot as I read this quote from Adams: "I’m a City Hall insider, so I was looking for outsiders that will bring a fresh perspective."
Wow, did you hear that, voters? Sam Adams says he's a City Hall insider! Funny, I don't remember him ever admitting that during the campaign. They sure sing a different tune on Christmas than they did on Halloween, eh?
The names of Adams's appointees are meaningless to me, but I was impressed by the number of staffers that he gets to bring to City Hall with him. Here's an excerpt from the official staff announcement:
Adams’ paid staff will be: Jane Ames, Staff Representative (part-time); Jesse Beason, Staff Representative; Mary Jo Markle, Staff Fellow (paid intern); David Gonzalez, Office Manager; Warren Jimenez, Staff Representative; Maria Lim, Receptionist; Tom Miller, Chief of Staff; Maria Thi Mai, Staff Representative; and, Terry Richardson, Labor Liaison (part-time). "Staff Representatives" hold the office’s senior policy positions.
That's the full-time equivalent of 8 new people coming onto the payroll, plus Adams. You've got to wonder what that costs the taxpayers in salaries and benefits -- $400,000 a year?
I suppose all the personnel can be explained by the complex tasks that the commissioners must handle as they actively manage their respective city bureaus. But what do all these newcomers know about running city departments? Probably precious little.
I know the city charter has its defenders, but I believe they're becoming fewer and fewer, and I'm certainly not one of them. Instead of 8 political appointees times 5 commissioners (and I assume the mayor gets more), I'd rather see 2 or 3 political appointees each, and 25 or 30 permanent civil servants who might actually get a chance to learn something about police training, utility billing, reservoir security, prevention of bureaucratic corruption, creative economic development, and many other topics.
On a loosely related note, I was fairly surprised to read in this week's Willamette Week that Commissioner Erik Sten "helped mastermind Sam Adams' stunning reversal of the asswhuppin' he received in the May primary to defeat heavily favored opponent Nick Fish for an open City Council seat." This after all those weeks that the Stenmeister claimed that he was remaining neutral in the race. Things that make you go, "Hmmmm..."