Hall of Fame
BY JUMPIN' JACK SCHRAG
In politics, as in baseball, only a few make it to the major leagues. Consider
this: 127 people have run
for the Portland City Council--not including mayoral candidates--in the
quarter-century WW has been around. Only 14 have taken the oath of
commissioner. While mayors, with their re-development plans, blue-ribbon
task forces and 14-point programs, tend to swing for the fences, it's the
commissioners who show up each day to get dirty and keep the city going.
Here are our picks for Hall of Famers, All-Stars,
benchwarmers and prospects.
Gretchen Kafoury: (1991-1996) Mayor Bud Clark talked about
helping the poor; Fetchin' Gretchen actually did something about it, advocating
for shelters and low-income housing.
Margaret Strachan (1981-1986): Her '81 victory over
Blumenauer and Steve Kafoury was a triumph for grassroots neighborhood
activism, and her role on the council opened up the downtown plan to the
Connie McCready (1970-1979): Best known for her brief mayoral stint,
Little Mac's council election helped break the grip of the old-boys' club.
Frank Ivancie (1967-1980): A lot of folks didn't
like his politics, but there's no denying Ivancie the Terrible swung a
Dick Bogle (1984-1992): The amiable ex-KATU anchorman will
be remembered for jetting off on Asian junkets and sexually harassing
a female aide.
Bob Koch (1986-1990). The ex-cop tried to pick up
Ivancie's mantle of blue-collar populism but instead simply lobbed grenades
and burned out bureau managers.
Major League Politics bans active players from consideration for
the Hall of Fame. Here's how the current quartet shapes up.
Charlie Hales (1992-): All-Star start, but
getting restless waiting his turn to be mayor.
Erik Sten (1996-): Youthful brashness wore thin, but new
strategic team-play has him looking good.
Jim Francesconi (1996-): Hasn't met expectations, but blossoming
Dan Saltzman (1998-): Not an obvious power-hitter, but is showing
"Bull" Blumenauer broke into the bigs in '86, after minor-league stints
with the Salem Liberals (1972-1977) and Multnomah County Commies (1978-1985).
At the city, he proved the master of bureaucratic details and practically
invented the idea of "livability." He also had a gutsy streak, defending
unpopular--but needed--sprawl-busting rowhouses.
Brainpower and stamina.
Did not suffer fools gladly.
Pushing light rail, curbside
recyling and bike lanes.
After "King Kong" Katz whupped him in the '92 mayor's race, Bull
settled for a congressional seat in 1996.
A Tareyton-puffing, sharp-tongued nitpicker, "Smoke" Schwab was a
fan favorite, known for her loyalty to friends (and dogs), love of
the arts, scrutiny of the budget and ability to withstand endless
hours of community forums.
Sharp with numbers, tight with public
Brushed back opponents and, on occasion,
Breaking the gender barrier
at the City Club; developing Portland Center for the Performing
Smoke kept a low profile after leaving
the council and died, alone, in her Northwest Portland home in January
Hard-partying "Iron" Mike is the Cal Ripken of modern Portland politics:
His 17 years in the bigs exceeds the current council's combined
experience. He championed the arts, kept peace on the council and
dabbled in international causes such as nuclear disarmament and global
Solid staff, great Rolodex, hollow legs.
Desire to be everyone's friend hindered
Pushing Arts Plan 2000 and
Portland Energy Plan; putting the "happy" back in happy hour.
Iron Mike retired from the bigs in '96 to take a two-year stint
as president of the Oregon Symphony Foundation.
"Flair" Jordan may dress like a dandy, but he was a true pioneer.
The city's first African-American commissioner, he helped set up a
citizen police-oversight panel and, along with Iron Mike Lindberg
and over the protests of Mayor Ivancie, pushed forward on developing
Pioneer Courthouse Square.
Oration, mediation and tailored suits.
Wind-up sometimes exceeded follow-through.
Saving Leach Botanical Garden from development;
developing city's energy-savings plan.
Jordan packed up in '84 to run Austin's parks
program. He came back in '90 to do the same here.