Portlanders, Be Carefree: The Giant Snake Has Been Fed
First of all, we don't need new names for the tram cars - we need new names on the city council.
I've gone with the drug comparison before - a group of city bureaucrats addicted to these costly silly projects in lieu of actually governing. I likened it to a drug problem - a bunch of spending junkies looking for their next rush - and I think that analogy is airtight. The problem is - as Paul Revere and the Raiders warned - "Kicks just keep getting harder to find."
By the way, how cool is it to have Mark Lindsay, the great lead singer of Paul Revere and the Raiders, hosting a radio show here in the city where it all happened for them? That's something a boy from Arabia can be impressed with. Hey, you have to admit the music of Portland's Raiders has held up better than - say - the Oakland Raiders.
The "Kicks" song warned of the dangers of chasing a high: "That road leads nowhere" and the city council should listen up. They went on a bad trip with PGE Park, a wild binge with the streetcars, and now they're stoned with an intense buzz from the tram. The problem for them and for us is they face the endless junkies' lament: The high that never lasts.
Warning - New Analogy Alert
In honor of the New Way Forward and today's State of the Union speech, I am going to break out another analogy for the city council: The giant snake that must be fed. See, we are the natives in this city and the city council is the giant snake. Things are okay for awhile, but then the snake must eat. Not everyday, not even every month, but after the right length of time, its giant head stirs and it goes looking for a meal. For this city council, the favorite dinner is a huge pile of revenue for something exciting with a grand vision - revenue that could be used for so many other things.
Of course, these other things are not exciting, but we will certainly lament the neglect they've been shown. My current top candidate is the aging sewer system. We have a bunch of pipes out there that were put in the week after Lewis and Clark left, and they are all ready to go. Perhaps concentrating on them, and avoiding these huge sink holes that swallow up giant trucks, would be a better priority than shaving a few minutes off the trip up to OHSU.
If you want something more immediate, how many of you have grown tired of the city council saying we just don't have the money to buy more snow plows? How many of you had a vision of better streets last week?
Yes, the tram performed during the snow storm but that didn't make the national news - that didn't define how the "City That Works" looked to the outside world. No, instead we had that bumper car footage that went all over. I mean GLOBALLY and the message was, "Portland can't handle a little snow." Maybe we should have spent the money on a few more trucks, or something creative. How about during a storm, we take the bike racks off the front of Tri-Met busses and stick on a snow plow? Work with me people.
The reason I switched to the giant snake analogy is that we are in a comforting time right now. The tram and all the revenue it took and all the hassle it produced - is now a big lump in the snake's belly. You can see the outline. The snake has eaten and it will be a few more months before it must eat again.
So don't think of the tram as junkies getting a rush. That analogy has been retired. Think of these ridiculous, unnecessary spending projects as a giant snake that must eat. That way, you can enjoy life right now. The tram project has been devoured and the beast has been fed. It lies satiated temporarily, fat and happy. A while from now it will be hungry once more, but for these few days, Portlanders are safe to come out and stroll around, simply enjoying their city again.