Fish and Fritz -- finally, somebody down there gets it
As we sit back and gaze in wonder at the political disaster area known as the Paulson stadiums deal, let's not overlook the heroes in the scene. If it were not for Portland City Council newcomers Amanda Fritz and Nick Fish, who said no to the misguided proposal many weeks ago and have stood their ground amid enormous pressure ever since, by now the city would be marking the trees in Lents Park for the chainsaws and hawking the $80 million in new public debt for not one but two new private sports palaces in the midst of a near-depression. Bad things may come of the Paulson plan yet, but credit Fish and Fritz for doing something few City Council members do in Portland -- actually advocating for what a majority of the citizenry wants, rather than what the development sharpies and construction unions say we have to have.
You can tell when a politician does the right thing, by seeing who criticizes her for it. The Oregonian is right on the case now -- painting Fireman Randy, whose bullying conduct has been nothing short of venal, as the "profile in courage" on the Paulson boondoggle. This is the same treatment it gave transparently phony Dan Saltzman when he hemmed and hawed before giving the inevitable green light on the doomed-from-the-start OHSU aerial tram [rim shot] years ago. According to the O, the rest of the council, who are no longer responding to the Fireman's daily tantrums, are somehow the failures here. Even columnist Anna Griffin is sticking unpleasant labels on Fritz and Fish -- how dare they hold the city back from progress? With critics like these, you know you're on the right track.
The problem, of course, is that for the last nine months or so, the Fireman and Mayor Creepy have been foaming at the mouth with one crazy stunt after another. The Paulson stadiums deal changes literally daily -- some days, hourly -- and one rush-rush timetable after another is set before the council and the rest of the city for hasty consideration, if that. Griffin herself has suggested that the mayor needs a prescription for Ritalin -- it's curious that she now faults his colleagues for not moving the city forward when she knows darned well that it's all they can do to stop him from burning it down as part of his self-destructive drama. Maybe she's feeling a little pressure from her bosses herself as she surveys the mostly emptied newsroom.
Anyway, there are many folks out here in the real world who are grateful for, and impressed by, Fish and Fritz's straight talk and steady hand through all of the shenanigans from the Jerky Boys over the past six months. May our two heroes stay that course until something -- indictment, resignation, recall, a faulty neon sign, or a burning bush along a Mount Scott bike path -- ends the adolescent behavior in City Hall and allows them to get to work on something positive. With two sane voices on the council, as the Rolling Stones used to say, it's just a kiss away.