Mayor to back council overhaul fits at 39
Katz says Portland is well poised for good times ahead
Mayor Vera Katz is expected to endorse the flawed Good Government Initiative at noon today when she delivers her annual State of the City speech before the City Club of Portland.
In written remarks prepared for the meeting at the Multnomah Athletic Club, Katz expressed determination that the city will survive gloomy economic times. Further city budget cuts are coming, she wrote, but the city is nonetheless well-poised for the eventual economic recovery.
Police and fire services will be protected from cuts, and she envisions no across-the-board reductions. Programs addressing safety, economic security and quality of life will get priority, but everything would undergo scrutiny.
'We can no longer simply thin the soup with across-the-board budget cuts,' she said in her prepared text. 'Not all city programs or projects are created equal. Some programs might not just get a cut but get cut out.'
She also plans on endorsing the Good Government Initiative, the proposed restructuring of city government that will be on the May 21 ballot despite a technical problem that could leave Portland without a functioning government for a year. An incorrect date in the measure would leave the City Council without a forum for most of 2004.
Katz sees the problem as a 'technical issue' and on Wednesday asked the council to refer a revised measure to the ballot. The council declined, however, by a 4-1 vote but can still refer a corrected version to the November ballot if voters approve the measure in May.
The mayor's prepared remarks said the measure will improve the way the city is structured and more clearly define the responsibilities of the mayor and the City Council.
She wrote that she will protect the police and fire budget with cuts from other budgets and 'prudent use of the reserves.' She will hold open the possibility of asking voters in November for additional public safety money 'if it becomes necessary to maintain adequate staffing levels for police and fire.'
She cited economic success stories, including the relocation of Adidas America to the old Bess Kaiser Hospital, retention of 2,800 Freightliner jobs, a new Frito-Lay sales office and a wind turbine company she declined to name that Ñ depending on the fate of federal energy tax measures Ñ could bring 1,200 new jobs to Portland.
She said helping the economy will remain a top priority, with the city continuing its efforts to support Oregon Health & Science University, draft a new economic development strategy for the Portland Development Commission to recruit more businesses, and work with the Port of Portland and Port of Vancouver for more international trade.
Expansion of OHSU to North Macadam and the proposed graduate school of engineering at Portland State University are 'cornerstones of our central city,' she said.