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Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Welcome to Portland

Tom Potter ran for mayor promising to "bring us all together." The impending vote to rename Interstate Avenue after Cesar Chavez, over the loud objections of a majority of people who live and work around that street, will certainly be a unifying event. Now the residents of the Overlook neighborhood will learn the lesson that residents of Buckman, Mount Tabor, Cully, and many other areas of town already know: The City Council does whatever it wants, even when it's in clear violation of existing ordinances (which will just get conveniently waived), and the opinions of affected neighbors don't count.

There are other important lessons as well. Note that the two members of the council who are about to be voted on (one for re-election and the other for mayor) are supporting the neighbors, while the one who's retiring and the two whose seats are safe for several more years are going against them.

And finally, in every trampling on neighbors' sensibilities, there's always the two-faced member of the council who makes a big point of saying he's sympathetic to the local residents, but who votes against them anyway. The Scone used to be the master of this; now he's turned the reins over the Opie of Bridlemile.

What a way to honor Cesar Chavez.

Comments (38)

I think the neighborhoods around Interstate Ave already know the lesson about the city council. This is just another notch on the belt.

And speaking of Chavez, isn't that kid who beat the 71 year old man over the head with a bat by the MAX station also named Chavez? I wonder if he was paid by the Chavez committee to send a warning about what might happen to us white guys if we try to stick up for ourselves. I certainly feel hit over the head by a big ol' baseball bat.

I can't think of any good reason for being strongly opposed to the renaming, and I doubt that the citizens of Portland actually are strongly unified in opposition. Most probably don't care, and that's as it should be.

The cost and inconvenience of renaming would be minor; the street name that will be lost had little local significance or meaning; and the person and population that would be honored deserve to be honored in some way or other.

Even if someone thinks the renaming is unnecessary or silly or does little good, why bother protesting it, given the hard feelings and racist suspicions raised by opposition?

This is truly a worthless fight that should have been avoided.

i'm genuinely disappointed for two reasons:

1) residents were given no choice in the matter, and

2) the City Council decided the street would be renamed regardless of citizen opposition.

which, of course, means the "citizen involvement" was a farce.

the only greater farce has been proponents playing the race card at every opportunity--always a surefire way to make friends.

"why bother protesting it, given the hard feelings and racist suspicions raised by opposition?"

The first reason was due to the fact that we had just had a name change in the same area within the same year and it seems like one area is getting dumped on (not dumped on as in the chavez name change but as in lots of changes to the area without caring how the people who actually live here think about it.)

The second reason was the when this question was raised we were called racist and that it would happen whether we wanted it or not. I'll oppose anything if it's being shoved down my throat.

It seems as if every single thing Richard has to say, above, including words like "of", "and" and "the", is just dead, flat wrong. A flawed process has taken a bad idea to a worse result. And, personally, I don't give any of the council "opponents" any credit for their opposition when they know that the sheltered majority will get the job done for them. If it's racist to oppose renaming Interstate for Cesar, or Hugo, or whomever, then it's a label I'm willing to wear. It's just a ridiculous idea, and we've all been railroaded.

Thanks for thinking of the neighborhood Jack. Sad to see Interstate leave after all these years.

Makes you wonder if the chosen three grew up in this town, in what neighborhood, and where they currently reside.
What a shame.

BTW: Who is Mr. Broadway?

Do you mean Gandhi Drive?

Ha! I second that. Now let's see if we can get a quorum.

"I'll oppose anything if it's being shoved down my throat."

Much larger things that are much more difficult to swallow are being shoved down your throat all the time. This is what life is like in a democratic, pluralistic society. We elect goverments in order to make decisions and do things. If we don't like what they do, I guess it feels like a big rock is being shoved down our throats; if we do like what's being done, then it seems like we're being spoonfed ice cream.

In this case, the government action is so minor that I don't understand why anyone's making a fuss. I don't think, personally, that it has much to do with racism. I do think it has a lot to do with resentment of political correctness and trendy, shallow notions of multi-culturalism. But these are minor sillinesses at worst, and shouldn't inspire self-righteous protests.

The problem with your protests is that you're very likely to be misunderstood by some of your fellow citizens who have good reason to suspect that your motives are indeed racist. We live in a country (and city) with a terrible history of racism. It makes sense to go out of our way--and even keep quiet about our annoyance at times--in order to be sensitive to that reality.

Makes you wonder if the chosen three grew up in this town, in what neighborhood, and where they currently reside.

Don't know about Potter or Dan, but Opie lives in a big 5K sq ft McMansion out in SW PDX.

Here's the's "INCLUSIVE" one gets left one has to print new stationery. Simply, rename MAX, which goes east side...west side...all around the it Cha Cha Chavez Choo Choo.

If Fred Hanson doesn't go along with it, then Tom's new gift mid-Willamette from Pamplin could be called Isla Chavez.

Song for Cesar Chavez, Mexican American Chicano Cesar Chavez

Cesar Chavez was born a Mexican American, a Chicano

Cesar Chavez lived his life a Mexican American, a Chicano

Cesar Chavez struggled for justice a Mexican American, a Chicano

Cesar Chavez fasted his body away, a Mexican American, a Chicano

…achieving justice for his people

He wore his Mexican American his Chicano body away

…winning justice for his people

Cesar Chavez fasted a Mexican American, a Chicano

Cesar Chavez prayed a Mexican American, a Chicano

Cesar Chavez walked a Mexican American, a Chicano

Cesar Chavez prayed his body away, a Mexican American, a Chicano

…achieving justice for his people

He gave his Mexican American his Chicano body away

…winning justice for his people

Cesar Chavez fasted a Mexican American, a Chicano

Cesar Chavez prayed a Mexican American, a Chicano

Cesar Chavez walked a Mexican American, a Chicano

Cesar Chavez walked his body away, a Mexican American, a Chicano

…achieving justice for his people

He marched his Mexican American his Chicano body away

…winning justice for his people

Cesar Chavez was born a Mexican American, a Chicano

Cesar Chavez lived his life a Mexican American, a Chicano

Cesar Chavez struggled for justice a Mexican American, a Chicano

Cesar Chavez gave his body away, a Mexican American, a Chicano

…achieving justice for his people

He gave his Mexican American his Chicano body away

…winning justice for his people

Honor Cesar Chavez as you will

Honor Cesar Chavez as you will

Honor Mexican American Cesar Chavez

Honor Chicano Cesar Chavez

Honor Raza Cesar Chavez

honor the great Mexican-American Raza hero Chicano giant Cesar Chavez as you will

Cesar Chavez was born a Mexican American, a Chicano

Cesar Chavez lived his life a Mexican American, a Chicano

Cesar Chavez struggled for justice a Mexican American, a Chicano

Cesar Chavez para siempre a Mexican American, a Chicano, Raza

...achieving justice for his people

...winning justice for his people

Raza Cesar Chavez!

Raza Cesar Chavez!

...achieving justice for his people

...winning justice for his people

--Sean Cruz, Mexican American Raza Chicano Sean Cruz
November 2, 2007

Note: If you want to honor Cesar Chavez, then start by calling him what he was his entire life, a Mexican American, a Chicano. Ask his family's permission before you call him something else. In fact, someone ought to consult with his family for a minute before the absurd "process" closes before City Council.

That would have been a nice gesture at minimum, might have kept the focus on "honoring" rather than whatever else it has become.

...over the loud objections of a majority of people who live and work around that street...

Loud I'll grant you. But how did you come up with "majority?"

I'm disgusted by the my-way-or-the-highway approach that the would-be-renamers adopted when Adams and Leonard had the TEMERITY to suggest that some street other than Interstate might be renamed (in response to the obvious lack of support in the North and Northeast neighborhoods). I wrote Commissioner Sten last night that, far from validating such bully-like behavior and the false framing of this as a civil rights issue by voting for the name change, he should vote against it, since he's reportedly unhappy with the top-down so-far-unrepresentative process.

Background on me: born in Guatemala, Salvadoran mother, Anglo-American linguist father, raised bilingual in Spanish and English, make my living as a translator. So you know I'm not coming at this from a place of racism in any way, shape or form. North Portland resident for 10 years as well.

BTW, re: majority, supposedly KATU did a poll of 500 people and there were 81% against the renaming of Interstate:

Richard's comment that we elect governments to do things for us resonates with me, and I agree with it. But we also put some constraints on them -- in this case a process that leaves room for public input. Our elected representatives have abused the process in this case, making it loom larger (at least in my mind) than it otherwise might. I'm also very strongly married to the idea of local things being local. Using place names to memorialize national figures goes against that, and has an overtone of nationalism that I find distasteful.

Tom Potter and Opie of Bridlemile
Don't like the scene any how.
I dropped acid on a Saturday night,
Just to see what the fuss was about.
Now there goes the neighborhood.

he should vote against it, since he's reportedly unhappy with the top-down so-far-unrepresentative process.

But he wants it both ways.

how did you come up with "majority?"

I looked at how many people who actually live or work around there wanted this change. And there were relatively few.

It would be interesting if the opponents of the renaming referred the Council's decision to the voters. Of course, that isn't likely to happen given that they would need to gather something like 18,000 signatures in 30 days, but the vote would be fascinating.

If one were looking for a perfect example of how to build anger and generate discontent in a population, this it it.

And what an excellent diversion. So what dirty tricks do have planned to exercise under cover of this smoke screen?

Regarding the idea that there is no cost to a renaming, I can say for a fact that that is untrue. My business went through this in another state. My out-of-pocket cost were $18,000+ just for stationary, check, vehicle re-lettering, etc.

Richard, if you want, I will give you an address where you can send me some money to compensate me for my loss. Oy, that right, we no longer do that in Oregon.

To be honest this is the first time I've lived and owned a house in a city (been off of Interstate for about 4 yrs). Before that it was small towns in subdivisions (Forest Grove, Cherry Grove, etc). Nothing ever changes in places like that.

Maybe I'm just not used to this. The idea that a group of people from out of the area can come in, say that they're going to do something wether you like it or not, not listen to other options, say that it's going to happen the way they want it to, call you names if you oppose it, threaten/urge other community members to not participate in a compromise... All this just gets my neck hairs up. It's not the actual naming of the thing. It's the principal. The oddacity (sp?) of it all.

Can we rename Erik Sten as Cesar Chavez? As a ballot initiative, in the public interest? He could not possibly object without hurting someone's feelings. The proponents are offering him the opportunity to celebrate Cesar Chavez and I can think of no more direct route to do so than for him to do it voluntarily and without objection. Why would he pick a street instead?

Well, I certainly hope everyone that's complaining on blogs is giving the pro-renaming Commissioners an ear-full, and not just complaining in venues like this one, or on talk radio and such. Commissioner Sten in particular has to understand that he can't have it both ways. Either he's for a representative process or he's with the bullies, and his vote will show us which it is.

Regarding Miles's comment: the Oregon Supreme Court ruled in 1990 that the initiative and referendum cannot be used to challenge a city's decision to change a street name, because it is an administrative decision -- and the initiative and referendum at the municipal level apply only to "legislation," not to administrative actions.

However, the voters of a city could likely put an initiative on the ballot to require the City Council to, within a certain period of time, name after a prominent deceased Portlander of the Council's choice (that's the administrative part of the deicision) any street that within the past 10 years had been renamed after someone not native to Portland.

What do you all expect?

We've re-elected all these clowns over and over and yet get the same results. Capitulation to vocal interest groups and their agendas and ignoring the majority of Portland residents.

Until we stop re-electing these numbskulls (and their ilk), we will NEVER seen any better results.

BTW...where is Saltzman lately? Is the City Councl now a part-time job?

Considering some of the fruitbats who generally run against "these clowns" I don't know that we have much alternative, alas. At least Leonard and Adams are listening to some degree, and seem committed to voting no on the Interstate renaming for now. Doesn't help us though if Sten votes with the mayor.

Regarding Miles's comment: the Oregon Supreme Court ruled in 1990 that the initiative and referendum cannot be used to challenge a city's decision to change a street name, because it is an administrative decision

Wow, that's fascinating. Thanks for the education (and the link to the ruling, PDXNag). I wonder, though, if an initiative could be constructed that changes the underlying city code so that it prevents Interstate from being renamed. It seems the courts would have to see that as addressing the underlying legislation, even though it would also have the impact of changing an administrative action.

Opponents of the name change would probably have more luck, however, challenging the action based on the fact that City isn't following its own street renaming procedures. All it takes is one angry store owner and a pro bono lawyer. . . .

This was all a big plan. First Randy the Dandy, locked up all the spray paint in Portland. Then came the name change. Hopefully the tagger guys will ride Max to get black spray paint, and as the new signs go up ......................

Geesh, they sure approached this from the wrong angle... Why so stuck on Interstate? I bet if they had simply announced that they wanted to name ANY street for Chavez, they would have had several neighborhood associations vying for the honor. And then you would end up with people WANTING this as opposed to having it shoved down their throat.

Anyone see the Oregonian's editorial on this? Does anyone think Messrs. Sten or Saltzman will cast a no vote?

Yes,the opponents are watching those who oppose them, But the rest of us are watching those who don't follow the rules. Erik Sten, Dan Saltzman, and Mayor Potter are giving into the whiners though Potter was in favor all along. The renaming committee could have read all the requirements at any time, instead of relying on the council to tell them what they needed to do, they are available to everyone. So just because they were ignorant of the policies on renaming a street and they won't particpate in trying to come to a compromise, Sten, Saltzman and Potter just give them what they want. DEMOCRACY ONLY IN POTTERSLAND (formerly known as Portland), who cares what a majority of people want push it through anyway!!

So, basically now, unless Saltzman or Sten vote in an unexpected way, we get César E. Chávez Blvd., right? Is there ANY way to get Interstate Ave. back at that point? I suppose someone could go through the normal City Council procedures once Mayor Potter is gone and the votes are there to go the other way, and get 75% of the businesses along the road on board etc. Of course that'll never happen, I suppose. Is there any organized opposition to this left, and is it planning anything besides wishing and hoping for a miracle?

This lack of representation of the wishes of the majority of the people of N. Portland just infuriates me.

Someone whose name escapes me said Democracy is government for the people, by the people and in spite of the people.

The issue here is that commissioners aren't following their own rules, are ignoring the people who voted them into office, and are rewarding thug-like behavior from the committee. I find that digusting. And remember folks, the city is rezoning Interstate and putting six story buildings in your back yard, too, so the heavy hand we see up here isn't going to stop. I recommend going to the news conference on 11/12 at 1:30 pm at the Nike Hawk Restaurant, testifying at city council on 11/14, and writing to the commissioners. Saltzman has been out of town for the last week, blissfully ignoring the local uproar, Sten is being a coward in kowtowing to the committee, and Potter's lost it completely. To think we have to deal with this mayor for another year + is sad and maddening.


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