June 09, 2005
Mark Rosenbaum Appointed To PDC
Is Mayor's Second Nomination To The Agency
Back in April, Mayor Tom Potter made his second nomination for a seat on the board of the Portland Development Commission. Yesterday, that pick was unanimously approved by City Council.
We just wanted to touch on a couple of things from the brief Council discussion about Rosenbaum's appointment, since his responses to their questions and comments are the first pieces of public record we have from him which are relevant to the position he is about to take. This is not a comprehensive look at everything that he said.
Rosenbaum said that he has been making the rounds of relevant meetings and events, including the Planning Commission ("because the relationship between the two bodies is important"), every PDC meeting, the City Club of Portland meeting at which their critique of PDC was discussed, and "many one-on-one meetings" with Portlanders.
He also said that he's been following radio and "online blog discussions" which have demonstrated the "sense of urgency" that seems to exist regarding the future of PDC.
Rosenbaum cited transparency, public involvement, fiscal responsibility, and the ongoing relationship with the City when it comes to planning as amongst the important issues facing the urban renewal agency. He also said he was interested in the eventual Charter review process and the discussion about PDC which will be included in it, calling a review of PDC "appropriate" given the changes it and the City have undergone since PDC was first created in the 1950s.
In a response to a series of concerns and observations about PDC from Commissioner Randy Leonard, Rosenbaum touched on some of the issues surrounding the Burnside Bridgehead controversy.
He said that PDC might have only helped create some of the animosity that exists over their decision to select Opus Northwest by not providing to the evaluation committee (and by extension, to all interested parties) a sense of how the various selection criteria were being weighted differently. He argued, in essence, that if PDC had done this, it would have made it easier to then methodically explain the eventual decision based upon the understanding of how different criteria were being weighted.
We've made much the same point here, since it was clear during the April 27 meeting at which PDC made their Bridgehead decision that they considered certain criteria more important than others, despite never having actually communicated that fact to the community, or to the evaluation committee.
Now, as with all such things in the world of politics and public service, we won't know how much Rosenbaum's statements will translate into a new way of thinking about PDC from someone actually sitting on the board of PDC until he's seated in his position and performing the task. Right now, all we have are words, although many of them are the right words.
But we feel it might be worth pointing out that when Rosenbaum made the above critical observations about the Brudgehead situation, he did so with Matt Hennessee outgoing chair of PDC) seated directly to his left. Given that Hennessee was the direct target of most of the criticisms about how the end of the Bridgehead process played out, in a real sense Rosenbaum's remarks were in contrast to Hennessee's own actions.
That he could make those critical observations (which were not delivered with any sort of overt disrespect) while sitting right next to Hennessee perhaps might say something about what we could expect in the future.
Or, we could be displaying the true nature of cynicism, which in reality is not nihilism but frustrated optimism. A true cynic, such as ourselves, does generally believe it's possible to get thigns right -- we just don't see it happen as frequently as we'd prefer.
All of that said, Rosenbaum will take his seat on the PDC board after Matt Hennessee completes his term on July 31, and his first meeting as a Commissioner will be August 10.
Disclosure: At one point, Rosenbaum Financial was poised to become a major sponsor of Portland Communique. Although those discussions never finalized, and so no money ever changed hands, we feel it's still a connection at a level which requires explicit mention here.