Date: Thu, 20 Jun 2013 02:24:13 +0200
- WWire: Latest News
Leonard vs. Wheeler: Read the Email Skirmish
If you were hoping peace would break out after City Commissioner Randy Leonard and Multnomah County Chair Ted Wheeler went at it last week, think again.
Following Wednesday’s exchange during the City Council’s public hearing on bringing Major League Soccer to Portland, Wheeler and Leonard fired off emails blaming each other for the fracas.
And when Wheeler wrote an open letter to Mayor Sam Adams proposing a new financial covenant between the county and the city, Leonard blasted the idea in an email to Adams.
First, here’s the email exchange that began with a message from Wheeler just minutes after he left the public hearing at City Hall. It starts with an accusation from Wheeler, followed by a tepid peace offering:
From: WHEELER Ted
Date: March 11, 2009 1:35:48 PM PDT
To: “Leonard, Randy”
Randy – why you would think it is a good idea to try to beat the crap out of me when I gave a respectful statement is beyond me. Having said that, oddly, it was a good exchange of real issues. No BS. You remind me of my brother so I guess that’s why I am stupid enough to take the bait.
I appreciate your view that there are more conversations to be had.
But Wheeler gets some tough love from “Big Brother” Leonard (who also notes he’s ticked at Multnomah County Commissioner Jeff Cogen in his response to Wheeler):
From: Leonard, Randy
Sent: Wednesday, March 11, 2009 5:05 PM
To: WHEELER Ted
I am not sure why you thought I was beating the crap out of you. I have been feeling stung by both you and Jeff’s public comments re URA’s and I thought it appropriate to list the real dollars we have contributed to the county via both URA’s and our own general fund…often at the expense of city services we provide such as fire, police and parks.
Your response that it is everybody’s money dumbfounded me. It was as though you were saying that your services are more important than the services we provide and therefore no thanks is needed.
It frankly causes me to take pause and re-examine what I here-to-fore thought was a real partnership between the county and the city. It feels as though the old saying “no good deed goes unpunished” characterizes both Jeff’s and your unfair criticisms and at times untrue characterizations of Urban Renewal Districts projects.
I am happy to talk with you more but the tone and tenor of what you and Jeff have been saying has to be modified to be at least accurate.
Thanks for writing…I hope we can discuss this more….Randy
Next comes Wheeler’s open letter (PDF) to Adams — copied to reporters and the other member of the City Council — seeking a new era of cooperation on city-county finances.
But Leonard warned Adams and the rest of the City Council that Wheeler’s olive branch could be poison:
From: “Leonard, Randy”
Date: March 16, 2009 10:28:08 AM PDT
To: “Adams, Sam”
Cc: “Fritz, Amanda”, “Saltzman, Dan”, “Fish, Nick”, “Kovatch, Ty”
Subject: RE: County City Covenant
I think that Ted’s memo (attached) to us is more about revisiting Resolution A…not so much about looking at new URA’s. I really believe that what he is asking for we need to be very, very careful about. We too have vital services to fund and we need to make sure the county is doing all it can to cut costs and enhance their own revenues before the city agrees to take on new responsibilities.
Yes, the county is short on funds, however, I believe that fact has at least as much to do with decisions they make and control as it is outside events that they cannot control
For an example, they cut the county income tax a little over one year ago…although it was only about $750,000 per yr, that is approx the cost of the employees they are laying off this July 1st. I told Ted at the time that I was surprised they would cut county income taxes at a time when they were considering not picking up dead animals due to a shortage of funds. He told me that he thought cutting the business income tax would create more disposable income for businesses that would then create more investment opportunities for them.
They continue to give over $6 million per year out of their general fund to the smaller cities in Multnomah County to fund their police, fire and parks programs. The City of Portland has a business license fee that we use to fund those programs. I would suggest that the smaller cities receiving that county money could do the same thereby freeing up that $6 million to help fund county programs that are being cut.
I forwarded to Chair Wheeler sometime back a proposal by Auditor Blackmer that showed that if Mult Co. contracted with the City of Portland for its law enforcement services, it would save the county general fund $10 million annually. Ted told me that it would be difficult to adopt that plan because of the resistance by the sheriff’s deputy’s union.
No one has worked harder than I have to collaborate with the county in order to try to preserve county programs. However, it has become clear to me that some on the county board believe that tax cuts and service cuts are the strategy to balance their budget…not looking for opportunities to enhance the revenue side of their ledger. As you know, it is challenging to confront vested interests, such as unions, and to resist the business communities ongoing efforts to cut their taxes, not to mention looking for fair ways to enhance revenue, but it is part of what comes with the territory when we decide to run for office.
The county must do some of that hard work before I would agree to assume any of their current responsibilities.