Charlie Hales: What others said about the Portland mayor’s performance in 2013

Jim Beall, a
partner with the law firm Ball Janik LLP

Beall, who represents heavy industry, said Hales was always
willing to meet and rearrange his schedule if need be. “You can go to meetings,
and it’s only Charlie. He doesn’t have a gaggle,” Beall said.

“It’s extremely important you get a chance to think these
things through with the mayor and his staff,” Beall said of large industrial
projects. “In that context, he’s been fabulous.”

Beall’s clients almost without exception supported Hales’
election. He said the mayor’s demeanor is a welcome change from that of his
predecessor, Sam Adams. “We don’t want flash,” Beall said. “We’ve seen what
flash can translate into.”

Sandra
McDonough, president and CEO of the Portland Business Alliance.

McDonough says she’s liked Hales’ ability to be direct with
PBA if issues aren’t on his radar. “He’s very clear if we bring something up, ‘That’s
not on my short list right now.’” Headed into 2014, McDonough would like to see
the mayor look at policies that create and keep jobs in Portland. Hales
campaigned talking about issues of equity. “The most important thing, in terms
of equity, is that there are good jobs available,” McDonough said.

McDonough praised Hales and the City Council for increasing
the amount of income business owners can deduct when paying the city business
license tax
— a long-held promise to alleviate burden on small business
owners. “In the next year, what we’re expecting to see is Charlie take on some
things in a much more proactive way,” she said. 

Ralph Becker, second-term
mayor of Salt Lake City

Becker said Hales “played an incredible role for us”
in developing a newly opened streetcar line. Becker, invited Hales to come
celebrate the grand opening and said the two had a great discussion about their
respective cities.

Becker said Hales has a very focused vision for Portland.
“He appears to me to have a pretty clear sense that the track that has enabled
Portland to be the success it has been, in the realm of cities nationally, is a
track that needs to continue,” Becker said, “and the pace needs to pick up.”

Robert McCullough, chairman of the
Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association, where Hales lives.

“In general, I would
say we’re pretty happy with him,” McCullough said. “But we’re waiting to see
what happens on land use and neighborhood issues.”

Of particular concern, McCullough said, is the proliferation
of so-called drive-by demolitions: quick turnaround permits to demolish
existing homes
and replace them with new ones. “Here we are on a rapid
development binge that’s eliminated trees and green spaces, and I have to tell
you it’s not going over well,” McCullough said.

Daniel Greenstadt,
chairman of the Concordia Neighborhood
Association

Greenstadt said the big issue in his community was the
future of Last Thursdays, the massive festivals held monthly on Northeast
Alberta Street in the summer.

“The mayor’s office has kept itself informed and it’s been
attentive and sincere,” Greenstadt said. “But it’s facing a significant
challenge. I’ve never talked to anyone who knows what the fix is.” Last
Thursdays often turn into drunken nuisances, and parking and other neighborhood
complaints remain unanswered.

“We’re anxious to learn what plans the mayor’s office may
have for next season,” he said.

Rev. LeRoy Haynes, leader with Albina Ministerial Coalition

Hales
hasn’t made any major decision on police reform that has generated wide
consensus among members of the coalition, Hayne said. Nonetheless, Haynes said
of the mayor, “we do find him personally committed to carrying out the DOJ
agreement and changing the culture of the Portland police bureau.”

Hales is gradually moving the bureau in the right direction,
Haynes said, and the city is at a potentially historic moment thanks to the
federal investigation. “The question is, ‘How will he take advantage of this
opportunity and use it to make the necessary transformation, not just reform?’”
Haynes said.

Jerry Willey, mayor
of Hillsboro

Willey lauded Hales for communicating with other cities and
making an effort to attend meetings in Washington County. “I think he embraces
the job,” Willey said of Portland’s leadership role in the region.

Willey said Hales made an effort to get to know other
mayors, a contrast from his predecessor. “He’s been very accessible,” he added.

Tom Hughes, Metro
Council president

“The thing I like best about Charlie is his demeanor,” said
Hughes, Willey’s predecessor as Hillsboro mayor, echoing a common refrain.
“He’s straightforward. He’s an easy guy to work with.”

Hughes praised Hales for helping shepherd the Oregon
Convention Center hotel project through the Portland City Council. Hughes said the
new mayor could have let the project, a controversial initiative tied to Sam
Adams’ administration, die. “To Charlie’s credit, he didn’t,” Hughes said.

Dan Saltzman, Portland
city commissioner

“I like his line of questioning,” said Saltzman, the city
Council’s most senior member, of Hales’ role in meetings and on council. He
also admires the mayor’s energy level and work ethic. “I always know he’s
there.”

Saltzman said he believes Hales has changed since he ended his earlier stint on
the council in 2002. “He cares about all the physical things of the city,”
Saltzman said, “but I think he has a lot more care and concern about the soul
of the city now.” Saltzman said the mayor has shown a commitment to addressing
homelessness, though he may have embraced the ongoing struggle to relocate
downtown’s Right 2 Dream Too homeless camp “a little too personally.”

Nick Fish, Portland
city commissioner

Fish gives Hales credit for running a good budget process, and
he praised the mayor’s ability to have fierce disagreements without letting them
affect his personal relationships.

But Fish says communication inside and outside City Hall has
been an issue. “I’ve had difficulty the last year really clearly understanding
Charlie’s priorities,” Fish said.

Looking ahead, Fish said he’s wondered, “How bold does he
want to be?” in reforming the Portland Police Bureau.

Fish also questioned Hales’ assertion that the city is suffering
from an “epidemic” of homelessness.

Gail Shibley, Hales’ chief of staff

Shibley said 2013 was busy. “For the
first half of the year, we were getting to know each other,” Shibley said of
Hales, whom she’d never worked with. “‘What does he think about this?’ ‘How would
he approach this?’ ‘Which are his preferences here?’ And we’re doing all of
that while we’re running a city.”

Shibley said Hales’ office will continue to pursue “good
governance,” smart budgeting and making neighborhoods complete and safe.

Shibley characterized Hales as creative, energetic and substantive.
“He is much more interested in actually getting things done than in talking about
getting things done,” she said.

– Andrew Theen

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