But wait! Charlie Hales promised to pave our streets without a street fee

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

Amidst all this debate about whether the street fee proposed by Mayor Charlie Hales is too regressive, or constructed fairly, or should be split residential/business, or whatever, it seems to me that one critically salient element has been missing.

When he ran for Mayor in 2012, Charlie Hales made it very, very clear that he could get on the job of paving our streets -- without any additional funds. He made that point to me in person, over a beer (before I chose to work for Eileen Brady). He made that point in many, many debates and interviews. And he made that point in writing.

He was actually quite clear about it. Check it out:

And funding will come from a reduction of city overhead- currently 12% of the city budget goes to city support services. In these tight economic times, overhead needs to be reduced so that more money goes to direct services, where it’s needed the most. When I was city commissioner, we paved 5 times the roads at ½ today’s proposed budget. I believe that we can focus our priorities on this basic service by saying ‘no’ to other distractions. Further, the city auditor recently reported that the ratio of managers to workers in Portland City Government is currently 6:1. That is too much management and not enough direct service. The ration should be 10:1 or 12:1, so that we can redirect more resources to direct services.

So, here's what I want to know from Mayor Hales: Why do we need a street fee? Has the cost of paving dramatically gone up? Is he abandoning his promise to reduce overhead and management? Is he now choosing to prioritize "other distractions" ahead of "this basic service"? Has he now discovered that he really can't pave five times the roads at half of 2012's paving budget?

And most importantly, is he finally prepared to admit that this campaign statement -- like so many others he made in 2012 -- was predicated on fantastical thinking and imaginary memories?

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