Just Mayor Things

Becoming Sam Adams

The new mayor defeated debt, doubt, and Dozono to reach City Hall. Portland expects a lot of him, but not more than hizzoner expects of himself.

By Harriet Rubin May 19, 2009 Published in the January 2009 issue of Portland Monthly

NEW YORK CITY’S planning chief, Amanda Burden, is turning her flawlessly made-up face into the Portland drizzle, asking almost indiscreet questions about the size of the footprints of the towers going up along the South Waterfront. Burden, as famous for transforming Manhattan’s dumpy Battery Park City into a viable neighborhood as for being Charlie Rose’s longtime girlfriend, is on a pilgrimage. “Every year I visit a great city,” she explains. “Last year it was Rio; the year before, it was Copenhagen.” Now, little Portland.

SoWa, as some call the South Waterfront, is existentially empty on the day of Burden’s October visit. Human voices can’t compete with the hydraulic heartbeat of the drills and excavators marking the erection and expansion of residential monoliths—the Meriwether, the John Ross, the Atwater. In her white Burberry jacket and pants pressed to a knife’s edge, Burden is more drawn to the spaces between the buildings—the “public realm” that showcases Portland’s love for its residents over its love of “starchitecture.” On the South Waterfront, that means the bench backs that double as skateboarding platforms; the bench seats, built a comfortable seventeen inches deep; and the corner streetlights, with rain bonnets to keep pedestrians dry. Never mind that in SoWa, the life is largely still missing—the benches and skateboarding platforms and rain bonnets will be excellent if the skateboarders and pedestrians ever come. Yet Burden pronounces SoWa good, describing the alternative: “New York planners hate people and want to keep them out of parks. So they used loopholes to make public seating thirteen inches deep and then turned [the benches] to face a wall.”

Out of the clouds, the tram floats into view, a soap bubble out of which the South Waterfront developed. The tram marked a turning point in the city’s history—infamously connecting the Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) complex on Marquam Hill to SoWa—and in the professional trajectory of Sam Adams. Were Adams here with Burden, the subject might come up, but as it is, no one mentions the tram’s connection to the nice benches and rain bonnets, or how the tram became a symbol of citizen outrage over wasteful spending, costing an astonishing $42 million more than expected. Adams was former Mayor Vera Katz’s chief of staff during the tram’s early planning stages; later, as the city’s transportation commissioner, he inherited its disorganized mess. The project’s ultimate cost overrun happened on his watch, as did infighting and at least one bruising firing. The fracas might have cost another politician his career, but Adams, in typical Adams fashion, emerged not only unscathed but also bound for higher office.

Adams, who is forty-five, becomes mayor on January 3. He ran as a first-term city commissioner (and had been Katz’s chief of staff for eleven years before that), capturing 58 percent of the vote to beat Sho Dozono, who owns Azumano Travel. The job pays $118,144, for which Adams will oversee a budget of about $3 billion, manage a city government of 8,985 employees, and serve as the public face of Portland. His rise to leadership comes at a pivotal moment, as the city grows in the national consciousness as a leader in “green” issues and a coveted place to live, as communities struggle to do more with less in a desperate economy, and as mayors begin to rival governors and members of Congress as celebrities.

In conversations about the evolution of American city politics, Adams is sometimes mentioned alongside other bright, young mayors who have entered office with more on their agenda than filling potholes—Gavin Newsom in San Francisco; David N. Cicilline in Providence, Rhode Island; and Cory Booker in Newark, New Jersey, stand out. They belong to a breed of politicians who insist the political machine is dead and that ideas matter; in pushing transformational agendas they aim to deepen citizens’ tribal sense of place. “[New York City Mayor] Mike Bloomberg has taken on incredibly unpopular issues like big fines for beeping your horn, congestion pricing, trans-fat labeling—issues that are hard to see through to law,” Adams tells me one early-winter morning. “Gavin Newsom took over a city that was considered green and wholesome and took it to a whole new level—he put a carbon tax on the ballot. [Mayor Richard M.] Daley took charge of a Chicago that was moldering and rusting and had some amazing difficulties. He invested in arts and culture. Chicago now has a green sheen to it.”

The Portland Tram Test Rescue with Sam Adams

In pursuing his own agenda, Adams, the city’s first openly gay chief executive, already has begun to suggest he will run a transparent city government and an administration that understands the power of multimedia. He posts his priorities and schedule at CommissionerSam.com, a strategically curated site that includes blogs (a headline on one Adams post: “I visited 4 porn stores, 5 strip clubs and 7 bars in 5 hours,” about W Burnside Street traffic); photos (“My favorite rose, Union Station Garden, NW Portland”); and even video, including a weirdly fascinating forty-two-second clip of traffic at SW Sixth Avenue and Morrison Street in 1939. A few years ago, he let Portland firefighters “test rescue” him from the aerial tram by lowering him 150 feet to the ground—still slinging his briefcase, cameras rolling—a stunt that has logged more than three thousand views and that tied him to the tram issue more cleverly than a press release ever could. And during his mayoral campaign, a five-minute “day-in-the-life” video was meant to take viewers up close and personal, beginning with Adams’s morning ablutions at his home in North Portland’s Kenton neighborhood. We see him shave, make coffee, get dressed (tight shots of him cinching his striped tie); we watch him bike to work in his bright-yellow helmet, stopping to report a pothole at 1001 SE Water Ave. While the video actually reveals little more than what kind of coffeemaker Adams uses, it suggests openness and, if nothing else, earnestness. “When you inherit a great city, you also inherit the temptation to rest on past accomplishments, to say, ‘Let’s take it easy, we’ve made enough progress for now,’” his voice-over tells viewers, an online audience of 1,090 if the YouTube count is correct. “Instead, we must draw in our minds the picture of an ideal future: cleaner, bigger (but responsibly), more equal, smarter, even more beautiful. We imagine our future, and then we build it.”

It’s a future that may have impact beyond Portland. For years, other US cities have looked to the Rose City for progressive ideas about transportation and urban planning. As cities scramble for a foothold in developing economies, Adams would like to export to the world the Portland way of doing things, drawing attention especially from countries across the Pacific. He already thinks of himself as Portland’s traveling mayor. He returned from China in September and will go back with local CEOs in April. He wants to find sister colleges in Asia for OHSU and Portland State University, and establish markets for Portland’s “green” expertise in terribly polluted countries like China. And while he’s not known as a fashion maven (“Have you seen how he dresses?” a friend of his once asked me. “He’s the least-gay gay man I know”), he would like to see Portland’s clothing industry one day rival Milan’s. “Sam’s got a city that’s got to figure itself out in a more complicated, global world,” says Len Bergstein, a veteran political consultant who once worked for legendary Mayor Neil Goldschmidt and served as an adviser to Dozono. “Portland is positioned where the world’s economies are heading. It’s a tougher job than Neil had.”

And, therefore, a more visible one.

Sam Adams for Mayor Ad

CITY HALL is a beautifully restored little palace, an Italianate Renaissance wonder at SW Fourth Avenue and Madison Street. Completed in 1895 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974, the building is filled with a collection of original art—photographs, paintings, sculptures—that, for the most part, rotates monthly. The piece that never leaves is the one that hangs over Adams’s sofa. Kay, by Albina artist Alexander Rokoff, is an almost life-size Napoleonic painting of an African American woman in a white gown. Her feet are bare, callused—she is homeless; but holding a top hat and cane, she conveys a sense of grandeur. Kay is real. She came into Rokoff’s studio one day and said, “You paint everybody else; when are you going to paint me?” She is at once the image of poverty and plenty, both of which seem to shadow Adams.

He was born in Whitehall, Montana, to Larry Adams and Karalie Gibbons, the third of four children. His birth weight, ten pounds and eight ounces, made him an instant statistical phenomenon, ranking him in the ninety-ninth percentile of supersized babies. When he was two, the family moved to Richland, Washington; when he was three, they moved to Newport, Oregon, fifty-two miles west of Corvallis, on the coast. “We moved to a beach house beside a ravine,” his mother, who goes by “Kara,” recalls. “We had never been near a body of water—we relished that experience. In Montana, the outdoor world was what you do recreationally. In Oregon, it was to be marveled at and respected.”

Sam’s father taught special education, coached high school basketball, and operated a commercial fishing boat; his mother wanted to finish her college education—the University of Oregon, in Eugene, is about a two-hour drive inland. When Larry and Kara divorced (Sam was thirteen), the children stayed with their mother, and they moved to Eugene.

Their financial circumstances seemed to change overnight. “My mom, God bless her, persevered,” says Adams’s older sister Kim Adams, who runs a hair salon in Springfield. “We didn’t have a car, and she went to Safeway and she’d load up that grocery cart and wheel it home. I thought, ‘Get a car already.’ That’s a compassionate sixteen-year-old for you. She did what it took to feed us.”

On weekends, Kara Adams would herd her children into a borrowed car and drive to Portland—she was working on a bachelor’s degree in architecture and liked to study the buildings. The children knew Portland only as the big city from which they got their news; seeing it in person instilled in Sam a love for the bridges, the buildings, the energy of a city. “I am going to sound like a hayseed, but the buildings were so tall,” he tells me. “Portland has always been the shining city on a hill.”

This, in many ways, was Neil Goldschmidt’s Portland.

The short version of the long and tragic tale of Goldschmidt is that the former mayor and Oregon governor (not to mention President Jimmy Carter’s secretary of transportation) was the youngest mayor of any major US city when he was elected, at age thirty-two, in 1972. Historians credit Goldschmidt, a Democrat, with revitalizing downtown, abandoning a despised Mt Hood Freeway plan in favor of the MAX light-rail, and opening city government to neighborhood activists and minorities. In 2004, when confronted with an impending Willamette Week exposé, he admitted to having had a sexual relationship with his children’s fourteen-year-old babysitter many years earlier, while in his thirties and while mayor. In Oregon, sex with a person under age sixteen is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison. Goldschmidt confessed but was not prosecuted—the charge is subject to a statute of limitations. He resigned from various high-profile boards and now lives here only part time.

Despite Goldschmidt’s disgrace, the city still draws much of its identity from the civic work he started via the 1972 Downtown Plan, which today is known simply as the Portland Plan. The plan started as a citizen-driven land-use initiative to revitalize a blighted downtown. It has grown into the city’s official strategy—its written blueprint—for addressing economic, cultural, environmental, and social issues, from affordable housing to transportation to climate change. “Neil took [city] guidelines and breathed life into them,” says Alan Webber, Goldschmidt’s former assistant, who worked with him on the plan. “He turned the guidelines into a consciousness. When people talk about the plan, they’re really talking about this consciousness.”

The Portland Plan revived downtown with the addition of Nordstrom, Pioneer Courthouse Square, and Gov. Tom McCall Waterfront Park, and has since reined in sprawl by creating strong neighborhoods, light-rail, and transit hubs. The Pearl District was created under this vision, as was the tram. Today’s Portlanders may feel cool, funky, and oh-so-original, but we are creatures of the ideas Neil Goldschmidt enacted, living in the box that Goldschmidt built.

State law now requires cities to update their plans regularly. Because the Portland Plan is updated only every decade or so, not every mayor gets to leave an imprint. Like Goldschmidt, though, Adams will—his revisions are due in 2012. The plan’s importance ranks up there with wise spending and with representing Portland well around the world—one wrong move could damage the city’s soul. This is, after all, a place known for its quality of life—a city with more miles of bike lanes than any in the country, and with an ordinance limiting building heights so as to protect the distant view of Mount Hood. “Global cities like Tokyo, New York, London, Cairo, Mumbai, São Paolo—huge cities—are self-perpetuating,” says Gil Kelley, director of Portland’s planning bureau. “But midsize cities like ours have a more precarious position in the world. We have to work harder to be high-performing cities. Detroit, Cleveland, and St. Louis are not at the top of anyone’s list anymore. They’re taking down unoccupied glass towers and turning them into gardens and grass to keep the city from being completely abandoned. If you don’t tend your future, that’s what can happen.”

Once primarily concerned with downtown development, the Portland Plan now involves a much larger context, which Adams will have to contend with as mayor. Can all Portlanders share in the quality of life? Can Portland’s quality of life be turned into a brand and replicated elsewhere? Can “twenty-minute neighborhoods” diminish traffic congestion by providing all the services residents need within a short distance? Can a transformed city support new growth in schools, in design and fashion, and in critical areas such as poverty? “We don’t just do [urban planning] to create a sense of order,” as Kelley puts it, “but to vault to a sense of who we want to be economically and socially.”

Adams wants to turn the plan into a strategic fix for what he calls the city’s three primary concerns: the ability of Portland’s public services to meet the needs of the one million people expected to move here over the next decade; a 43 percent eighth-grade dropout rate, which may swell public assistance rolls; and a dearth of good jobs, which could divert talent to other cities. “My definition for success is not how bold [the Portland Plan] is, but how smart,” Adams tells me. “We have a lot of remedial work to do. Urban development and economic justice are not two separate agenda items.”

Portland’s zoning codes contain nothing, for instance, about family-friendly planning. As an example, Adams explains that economically disadvantaged children usually come from families where the parents earn an hourly wage. “We know … it’s going to cost half of this parent’s daily pay to travel to his kid’s PTA meeting,” he says, adding that local businesses must work harder to give some employees time off. “Academic success should be part of the plan—it’s part of Portland’s future.”

THE MAYOR makes killer eye contact. “I know I have piercing eyes,” he tells me. One wonders whether Adams wears those Jean Lafont glasses to protect the innocent, sort of the way Superman spares Jimmy and Lois from his X-ray vision. The Clark Kent comparison isn’t unwarranted—Adams is that handsome. Even his name carries wattage, considering he shares a moniker with a founding father and a popular beer (Boston Beer Co once threatened to sue Adams for blogging as Sam Adams). Nonetheless, Adams has made his name partly by being approachable. A quick trip to pick up a carton of milk can take an hour, as Portlanders inevitably stop him to tell their stories. The demands on his time are so heavy, he often has to schedule dates even with his partner of nearly a year, Peter Zuckerman. “I know I have to share Sam,” sighs Zuckerman, a twenty-nine-year-old reporter who covers Clackamas County for the Oregonian.

Yet there was nothing glamorous about the new mayor’s workspace when I visited him. His office as commissioner featured a tidy desk pushed into one corner and black leather sofas arranged around a coffee table made of burlwood salvaged from the bay in Reedsport; here, Adams or his assistant, Cevero Gonzalez, politely served coffee so terrible they might have tapped it straight out of the bosky Willamette. Adams’s office is like his suits: fitted for utility and convenience. And despite his new title, the somewhat austere environment will follow him to the mayoral suite, on the third floor, along with a personal staff of about two dozen.

His critics say he tends to surround himself with yes-tykes—young employees who won’t challenge him. Yet Adams’s staffers caution outsiders not to confuse unity with servility. They say the staff does argue—about ideas. Adams himself and his old boss, Katz, fought “like an old married couple,” as Katz puts it. “Most of my staff couldn’t believe how he talked to me,” she says, “but I loved it.”

At the moment, Adams’s ideas-people are turned toward the mayor’s personal mecca: Amsterdam. Like Portland, Amsterdam is organized around water, and shipping, and small-business innovation. “Amsterdam was an enormous trading center in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries,” says Gil Kelley, the city planner. “Since then, they’ve suffered an inferiority complex. London, Munich, Paris have passed them by. In a way, Portland has experienced that, given Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.” Adams, who believes Portland’s uniqueness will make the city increasingly important, has been immersing himself in the history of Amsterdam’s commerce and its current resurgence as a European hub. Tom Miller, his chief of staff—sort of like Kissinger, but with a skateboard—even keeps a bicycle map of Amsterdam on his wall.

Closer to home, a more immediate and potentially unpopular transition involves automobile traffic. In 2002, the city council agreed to make one-way streets of W Burnside and NW Couch streets—the so-called couplet project. Forty thousand autos per day travel on W Burnside, making it one of the city’s top three busiest corridors and the busiest downtown. Yet the no-turns ordinance and the tight sidewalks west of the park blocks present problems, including, significantly, pedestrians being hit by cars. In the past decade, four pedestrians and one cyclist have been struck and killed, and eighty-five people have been injured (including nineteen cyclists), on W Burnside Street between the Willamette River and 19th Avenue, a statistic that represents a disproportionately large percentage (4.6 percent) of the city’s pedestrian fatalities for only a twenty-block stretch of roadway.

What started out as “a small let’s-fix-the-roadway project—repave, relocate some storm drains, widen the sidewalk a little,” as the planning bureau’s Mark Raggett puts it—turned into a long-term vision of a one-way Burnside with parking and with left turns. Burnside/Couch, reimagined, would almost certainly have one clear effect: it would lead to greater potential for development. The greater the number of businesses, the greater the city’s tax base. Not everyone buys that Adams wants to change Burnside solely as a public safety measure, and few like the sound of a project that started at three-quarters of a million dollars only to grow to a projected cost of $86 million—just for W Burnside Street. The issue is expected to come before the council again early this year.

Similarly, Commissioner Adams raised eyebrows for supporting an expensive initiative to send the Oregon Ballet on a trip last year to perform at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC; several years earlier, Adams had dated the ballet’s artistic director, Christopher Stowell, for about six months. And then there was the $5.2 million plan to build a bike bridge from the Pearl District to Northwest Portland, an idea that pleased bicycle activists but enraged others, who point out that Adams supported the bike lobby while many areas of the city still don’t even have sidewalks. When Dozono attacked the bridge plan during the mayoral race, Adams withdrew his support two months before the election. He maintains his decision was far more complex than critics understand.

If you want to know how to make it in Portland City Hall, ask outgoing Mayor Tom Potter and watch him hold up three fingers, referring to the number of city council votes needed to pass any initiative. “That’s the secret to Portland politics,” he tells me. “You need three votes to get anything done.” Most city governments have a strong-mayor system, where the mayor acts as CEO and maintains authority and political independence on hiring, firing, and legislative initiatives. Here, the only difference between the mayor and the four elected members of the city council is that the mayor assigns all the departments and bureaus. The mayor’s presence may be huge, but his powers are limited: decisions require a majority vote of the council. Potter tried to change that system in 2007 but says, “I got my butt kicked”—Portlanders voted three-to-one against it.

The key benefit of the weak-mayor system, as the theory goes, is that the greater the democratic input, the less public harm a city’s elected officials can do. A disadvantage for Adams: he may have to become a better politician. Because each commissioner represents different city bureaus—Nick Fish, for instance, works with fire and rescue as well as housing and community development—budget time brings, in Potter’s words, “a lot of parochial thinking.” And money and collaboration have been challenging issues for Adams—fiscal ruin and personal conflict haunt him.

Wendy Willis voted for Adams—“Sam will make things happen,” she says—and while she will not talk about one widely circulated dustup with him, the incident endures as an example of the occasional difficulties of working with Adams. When Willis was the director of the City Club of Portland, she and Adams got into an argument about registering lobbyists—Adams wanted anyone who appeared before city council to register, while Willis felt that young volunteers who researched an issue and brought it to City Hall for only fifteen minutes of their lives would be intimidated by such a requirement. Adams berated Willis in front of her peers so memorably, witnesses still marvel.

And few can forget the tram debacle. In 2002, the council approved the plan to connect the OHSU complex on Marquam Hill to the South Waterfront by tram, to keep OHSU from relocating to suburban Hillsboro. Space had grown cramped on Marquam, making parking a hassle, and employees detested having to drive down to SoWa, where the hospital’s Center for Health and Healing is located. (“Do you know what it costs to keep a [National Institutes of Health] researcher stuck in traffic for half an hour?” Kelley asks.) The tram would zip employees to SoWa in three short minutes. The plan went forward.

When Adams became commissioner of transportation in 2004 and began overseeing the project, some relationships grew contentious. “As soon as Sam took over, the spirit of the project became aggressive,” remembers tram architect Sarah Graham, a Portland-born partner at the Los Angeles and Zurich design firm Angélil/Graham/Pfenninger/Scholl. “From that time on, everybody worried about the politics of the project. We went from excitement to fear. Everyone was worried about Sam.”

Cost overruns took the project well past its $15 million budget, to $57 million. “Stopping the project was going to be [his] claim to fame,” Graham says. Adams demanded cuts—using a less expensive exterior paint for the tower than the sun-reflecting tone the builders had chosen, for instance—but Graham refused. “We’d had a specialist study how the sun hits the tower 365 days a year,” she tells me. “We’d chosen a gray tone so it wouldn’t heat up. The experts backed me up. Sam hated me.”

Eventually, developers and OHSU stepped up and paid most of the cost overruns. The city kicked in an additional $5 million. The tram ultimately was a coup for Adams, if also a costly human process. “God help you,” Graham said when I told her I was writing about Adams. “He’s very vindictive.” One person I reached begged, “Please don’t even say you reached me by phone.”

Adams admits he was harsh with Willis. And when I asked why so many people declined to talk to me about him, he said, “People regard me as fundamental to their livelihood. That’s why they won’t talk. But I have a reputation for being impatient. I sat in meetings with Vera where it was clear people were putting the shine on her, just telling her what she wanted to hear. It made me furious.”

While some have wondered whether the mayor will be able to overcome what one close observer calls the “class chip on his shoulder,” Adams says the inflammatory days are gone. He blames his earlier temper on sleep deprivation. “My mind was waking up 127 times a night because of sleep apnea,” he says. He has had three jaw surgeries since 2006 to relieve his symptoms.

LEADERS ARE typically driven by some element over which they have no control but that shapes their fate. Barack Obama’s single mother taught him a form of boundarylessness. Bill Clinton’s single mother taught him relentlessness. Adams’s single mother gave him an appreciation for the feel of cities. Yet somehow Kara Adams’s influence also may have incited a demon regarding the handling of money.

Kara Adams lived at the edge of solvency, and her son fell even lower. In 1990, when he was still attending the University of Oregon and working as an aide to Congressman Peter DeFazio, Adams, twenty-seven, fell deeply into debt. He owed $23,493 in University of Oregon tuition, in medical fees for an uninsured emergency appendectomy, and to pay for what he calls “an expensive lifestyle.” He says he was earning around $17,000 a year and getting paid erratically by the Oregon House Democratic Campaign Committee while helping put his partner through medical school in Mexico. His parents didn’t have the resources to help dig him out, so he filed for bankruptcy.

Adams’s Chapter Thirteen file shows he landed in debtor’s court not only because of the tuition and the medical payments, but also because he had grown attached to objects of glitter and comfort, like a $650 cell phone and a running tab at Dairy Queen. Under the arrangement with the government, he agreed to repay creditors pennies on the dollar. Of the $23,493 he owed, he repaid $3,578.

But then, in 1994, while working for Katz, he reopened his own case. “I had given my word to so many small businesses that I would repay,” he says. Adams says he wrote each of his creditors a check for the entire amount he still owed and, between 1994 and 2002, paid back every penny. He says Dairy Queen was so appreciative they sent him a coupon—for five dollars, which he has never used. In cases where the stores had gone out of business, he says he donated the amount to a charity in the business’s name. He repaid some debts by selling his Datsun truck to his father for five thousand dollars.

“I learned the humility of failing in a public way,” he says. “I learned what it means to let people down.”

The bigger question may be why Adams fell behind in the first place.

When I asked Sam Adams, “Who is Sam Adams?” he made me an unusual and, according to him, unprecedented offer—a look at what he called his psychological file. He handed me a manila folder: baby pictures, his birth certificate, diplomas from the University of Oregon and a Dale Carnegie course in effective speaking and human relations, and, most interesting, his Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test, which measures a person’s psychological preferences.

The Myers-Briggs, a popular human resources tool, is believed to predict a person’s ability to work in teams and individually. Adams’s answers scored him as an ENTJ, which stands for Extroverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Judging. Anita Taylor, a certified Myers-Briggs expert who administers the test to all OHSU medical students, sees the ENTJ as a series of contradictions.

“People can’t predict how such an individual will make decisions,” she says. “He’ll see the world as possibilities. NTJs are visionaries. You’d expect to find them in places like Google, not in city halls, which are slow, methodical, plodding places.”

The evaluation may help explain Adams’s focus, which has been mistaken for impersonality. One recent Wednesday, the door to the city council’s meeting chambers opened and in walked a line of about fifty schoolchildren, none older than eight. They glanced shyly at the commissioners, who looked kindly back at them—everyone, that is, except Adams. He was studying a PowerPoint presentation on truck routes.

“Sam falls in love with big ideas, big projects,” as Katz puts it. “He has to learn how to land from three thousand feet.”

And so here is the view at that altitude in Month One of Year One in the mayoral life of Sam Adams:

“A lot of ink and energy get exhausted trying to define Portland—why did it end up this way instead of like Topeka or some other place ordinary?” as he puts it in his campaign video, which still circulates on YouTube (though not nearly as widely as the one of him being lowered by harness from the tram). “I think it has to do with that early-day spirit. The country grew and prospered and became wealthy beyond anyone’s dream. It got older. But as it did, in Portland that young-nation spirit never died or lapsed into complacency.

“The people here just continued to believe in, and work toward, ever-loftier goals. The results are breathtaking, and everywhere. And now it’s our turn to take care of it.”

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