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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Randy's food cart vendetta: Is it all about Adams vs. Saltzman?

When the news broke yesterday that Fireman Randy is going to sic his building inspectors on some food cart vendors, our political antennas automatically deployed to figure out just what he's actually up to. He always makes a good speech about public safety, I'm a firefighter ya know, yada yada, but his unilateral, standards-free selection of unlucky targets virtually always has some other motivation behind it.

Read down a bit in yesterday's article in the O about the Fireman's latest enforcement thrusts, and the light goes on:

For now, the city is focused on complaints it received about two food cart lots.

Adding a political wrinkle, both lots are owned by prominent Portland families. The Goodman family, which controls much of the downtown parking market, owns one of the lots, on Southwest Third Avenue at Washington Street.

The Saltzman family, through its privately held Oregon Pacific Investment and Development Co., owns the other lot, on Southwest Fourth Avenue at the south end of downtown. City Commissioner Dan Saltzman has an ownership interest in the property, according to his financial-disclosure records filed with the state, and the Goodman family manages it. The property also sits in view of building inspectors' offices across the street.

Now we get it. It's no secret that Saltzman is running for mayor against the creepy incumbent next time around. And it's also no secret that the Fireman is actually in charge of City Hall, playing the mayor like a heavily medicated clay puppet. What's that you say -- fire the police chief? Yes, Randy. Put your boy in that job? Yes, Randy. What bureaus do you want, Randy?

And so it's clear that when the next mayoral race rolls around, the Sam Rand twins will be standing together in all their Wiener-esque glory. And anything that makes Saltzman look bad in the meantime? Don't be surprised if they find it worth pursuing.

Comments (10)

How exciting! A battle of public safety vs. food carts for the people. I kind of think Saltzman may win this one. We shall see...

Now, if only someone inside city hall could pass along confidential emails and documents to WikiLeaks.

Why doesn't Randy just run for mayor himself?

What bothers me about food carts is that most of the time, the same person is handling money and making food -- and all too often they don't wash their hands in between those tasks, unless asked. And sometimes their reaction to being asked is not altogether friendly.

"Why doesn't Randy just run for mayor himself?"

'Cause his puppet Sam can be the lightning rod for all of this. He honestly thinks (based on the previous attempts to get rid of Sam) that he'll get re-elected. This town has enough stupid people to make that happen.

I think the downtown restaurateurs are behind this. Rightfully so. The food carts have been taking business away from brick and mortar restaurants without paying similar fees and taxes and following stringent ADA regulations. It was a pain for the restaurants’ and they couldn’t do much about it until the carts started adding seating areas. This really takes them out of the cart realm and into the full service restaurant business without being subjected to full service regulations. However much I despise Randy, I think he is on the right track here.

Randy better watch out. The Goodmans have been around and they don't always play nice. Randy could (hope hope hope) end up making some serious enemies.

The Randy money quote:

"Some people say food carts are so popular in Portland that you can't get rid of them. That's not true."

Even if you are feeling libertarian, these decks/shelters are open to the general public, and some of them are extremely shady. I also noticed the SW 3rd and Stark pod isn't complying with this land use decision to upgrade their perimeter landscaping.


Looks like Randy's following the lead of some pioneering public servants on the DC City Council (see, http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/articles/39815/inside-dc-food-truck-wars/full/ )--just the city we want to model our municipal affairs after.

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