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Sources Say: Hales misses the snow show as Fish has run of the city

Talk about tempting the fates. Mayor Charlie Hales and a top aide missed most of last week’s snowstorm because they were attending a conference in South Africa (it’s summer there, by the way).

It was hosted by C40, a global network of cities focused on mitigating the effects of climate change. The climate didn’t change in Portland after he left, but the weather certainly did. And there probably are a lot of conflicting opinions on how well the city mitigated the effects of the storm.

Hales’ absence gave Commissioner Nick Fish a chance to talk about something other than the Water Bureau for a few days. As council president, Fish filled in for Hales as the head of the city, appearing at numerous news conferences and granting television interviews as he visited parts of the city encouraging Portlanders to keep their spirits up. Even the Saturday morning water main break at Southeast 20th Avenue and Powell Boulevard gave Fish a chance to point out how hard repair crews were working before the start of the campaigns on the Portland Public Water District.

One mayor’s ‘clowns’ are another’s ‘freedom fighters

The campaign in support of the public water district is off to a blistering start, with the co-chief petitioners of the initiative measure attacking Hales and Fish in their first news release since

it qualified for the May 11 primary election.

Former lobbyist Kent Craford chided Hales for referring to district supporters as “terrorists” and “clowns,” saying they are “freedom fighters.” Craford also said the measure will be a referendum on Hales for recommending water and sewer rate increases since becoming mayor, and not moving fast enough to replace Chief Administrative Officer Jack Graham, who considered using ratepayer money to close a funding gap in his bureau.

Floy Jones, who co-founded the grassroots Friends of the Reservoirs, attacked Fish for voting to increase water rates 66 percent since he took office five years ago. Noting that the Water Bureau has projected a 55 percent rate increase during the next five years, she asked: “Does Fish think Portlanders are made of money?”

Opponents of the measure are expected to launch their campaign in coming days.

Too much snow for a polar plunge?

It’s one thing to challenge the elements. It’s another when elements challenge you back.

Two bad weather-related events were canceled during the weekend as record-setting snow and ice hammered the region. The first was the Polar Plunge fundraiser planned for Feb. 8 by law enforcement officers to benefit the Special Olympics. The other was the 45-mile Worst Day of the Year Ride set for Feb. 9 by local bike enthusiasts.

The law enforcement officers could at least save face by saying they had to work extra shifts because of the storm. As for the bikers, like the Chiffon margarine ad said, “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature.”

The storm even forced state Democrats to postpone their annual Wayne Morse Gala, named for the former senator who represented Oregon from 1945 to 1969, first as a Republican, then as an Independent, and finally as a Democrat. Morse died 40 years ago this July.

The annual event will be rescheduled to a more snow-free date, according to the Democratic Party of Oregon.