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City 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.

All-Stars
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 public.

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 big stick.

Bench Warmers
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.

Prospects
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 into All-Star.
Dan Saltzman (1998-): Not an obvious power-hitter, but is showing potential.

  Earl Blumenauer
1986-1996

"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.

STRENGTHS
Brainpower and stamina.

WEAKNESSES
Did not suffer fools gladly.

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS
Pushing light rail, curbside recyling and bike lanes.

RETIREMENT
After "King Kong" Katz whupped him in the '92 mayor's race, Bull settled for a congressional seat in 1996.


 
Mildred Schwab
1972-1986

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.

STRENGTHS
Sharp with numbers, tight with public purse.

WEAKNESSES
Brushed back opponents and, on occasion, even teammates.

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS
Breaking the gender barrier at the City Club; developing Portland Center for the Performing Arts.

RETIREMENT
Smoke kept a low profile after leaving the council and died, alone, in her Northwest Portland home in January 1999.


 
Mike Lindberg
1979-1996

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 warming.

STRENGTHS:
Solid staff, great Rolodex, hollow legs.

WEAKNESSES:
Desire to be everyone's friend hindered leadership.

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS:
Pushing Arts Plan 2000 and Portland Energy Plan; putting the "happy" back in happy hour.

RETIREMENT:
Iron Mike retired from the bigs in '96 to take a two-year stint as president of the Oregon Symphony Foundation.

 
Charles Jordan
1974-1984

"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.

STRENGTHS
Oration, mediation and tailored suits.

WEAKNESSES
Wind-up sometimes exceeded follow-through.

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS
Saving Leach Botanical Garden from development; developing city's energy-savings plan.

RETIREMENT
Jordan packed up in '84 to run Austin's parks program. He came back in '90 to do the same here.

 

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