Mayor Hales ‘campaigning’ in Gateway

See why folks commented the Mayor’s talk seemed more like a campaign speech than a message for outer East Portland. NEW: GABA is changing meeting location! Learn more here! …

GABA President David Panichello welcomes members and guests to the February meeting of the Gateway Area Business Association.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Not long after giving his “State of the City” address at the City Club of Portland, Portland Mayor Charlie Hales began a speaking tour, which included several stops in outer East Portland, to recap the highlights of his annual presentation.

One of those stops was at the Gateway Area Business Association (GABA), on February 12th at the East Portland Community Center.

Portland Mayor Charlie Hales begins his speech at the Gateway Area Business Association.

“I love coming into this building,” Mayor Hales began, speaking about the East Portland Community Center.

“Many of you were involved in the effort to create this place,” Hales continued. “And now, 17 years later, here we are, meeting here – and it is looking good. It’s full of life and activity.”

Although not taking personal credit for the new downtown building boom, Hales pointed out that the Portland skyline is dotted with “21 or 22 construction tower cranes”; where, when he was running for office in 2012, there were only two.

GABA members listen, as Mayor Hales presents the “State of the City” – Gateway edition.

“As you may recall in my first budget cycle, we had to cut $21 million out of the general fund budget to deal with the worst financial reversal this city has faced,” Hales said. “We did that in, I think, a well-thought-out way. We didn’t lay off a number of positions; we left some positions vacant.

“For example in the Portland Police Bureau we allowed positions to remain vacant,” Hales pointed out, “we do not lay off any Police Bureau personnel, though we did reduce the authorized number of positions by 50.”

He and the Portland City Council have “managed the city well,” opined Hales. “When we started getting some new money, we paid off about an $8.5 million in debt before we started investing in anything new. I think we have been prudent managers.”

Mayor Hales repeats his support for a $15 per hour minimum wage.

Hales also praised voters for approving the Portland Children’s Levy and the Parks Bureau Replacement Bond taxes. “I think we’ve managed to bootstrap ourselves pretty well into a better position.”

In outer East Portland, Hales pointed out that a combination of Portland Development Commission tax-increment financing resources and Portland Systems Development Charges; construction of both the Gateway and Beech Parks is underway, and land has been purchased for a park near SE 148th Avenue and SE Division Street

“In fact, outer East Portland is getting the lion’s share of resources, because this area was furthest behind as far as access to parks and accessibility is concerned, when we annexed this area into the City of Portland,” remarked Hales.

As Mayor, Hales said he’s “put a lot of attention in the last couple of years into the Portland Police Bureau” for several reasons: “It is big organization, they deal with deadly force, and there are many problems to solve. It seems like I’m spending a large amount of my ‘bandwidth’ on the Police Bureau. But I think it’s paying off.”

Within the next year, Mayor Hales says he’d like to see 1,000 more “affordable” housing units in the city.

He also touched on the change of top leadership, noting that the incoming East Precinct Commander Dave Hendie is a lifelong resident of the area.

Mayor Hales commented about the several proposals for transportation infrastructure improvement that he, Commissioner Steve Novick, and PDOT had floated. “We came up with some new and different proposals, and people didn’t like those either. We were about to go to the voters with an advisory vote, before I found out that the State Legislature and Congress were planning on taking this issue on, this session.”

GABA meets next on March 12. Networking starts at 11:30 a.m.

They’re NO LONGER meeting at the Loaves and Fishes Center at the East Portland Community Center. For their new location, see the official GABA website: CLICK HERE.

© 2015 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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