Tag Archives: Neil Goldschmidt

Suddenly, the ‘Bama Senate race has gotten quite intense

Well now. I didn’t see this one coming.

A woman has accused Republican U.S. Senate nominee Roy Moore of making a sexual advance toward her when she was just 14 years of age. Moore was 32 years of age at the time … allegedly.

Oh, brother.

Moore is set to face off against Democratic nominee Doug Jones in the December special election to the Senate seat vacated when Jeff Sessions became U.S. attorney general.

As if Moore didn’t have enough baggage already, given his troubled tenure as Alabama Supreme Court chief justice, now he’s got this matter with which to deal.

Republican leaders are asking Moore to quit the race — if the allegations are true. Moore isn’t owning up to anything, of course. The woman, Leigh Corfman, who’s now in her early 50s, is standing by her story.

Who’s telling the truth?

It’s not unheard of for these kinds of sexual encounters to come to light long after they occurred. When I heard of this, my mind turned immediately to the scandal that brought down former Oregon Gov. Neil Goldschmidt, a Democrat who also once served as Portland mayor and was transportation secretary in the Carter administration.

Goldschmidt was accused of messing around with a girl who was babysitting his children back in the 1970s. He eventually acknowledged doing it and then resigned in disgrace from every board on which he was serving when the accusations came forth about a dozen years ago. He has vanished from public view. His picture was removed from the ring of governors at the Oregon Capitol Building in Salem.

If Moore stays in the race, the issue then becomes this: How is his opponent going to handle this one? Does he make it a campaign issue or does he let Moore’s political fortunes simmer in the heat that is sure to build as questions continue to mount?

The late Texas U.S. Sen. Lloyd Bentsen once called politics a “contact sport.” I sense a serious collision might be about to occur down yonder in Alabama.

Is the downtown vision 'myopic' or far-sighted?

A recent blog I posted posed the simple question of “why” regarding the opposition by some to efforts to revive downtown Amarillo.

It drew a thoughtful response from a reader who said this, in part: “Why” the myopic focus on “downtown” when only a very small minority of the populace even has this on their radar?

The term “myopic” caught my attention. The dictionary defines “myopia” as a defect in vision, blurriness at things seen at some distance.

The downtown Amarillo effort, in my view, remains sound in principle and its concept is more than doable.


I’ll tell you about another city that launched a downtown renewal about four decades ago.

That would be my hometown of Portland, Ore.

The city elected a young man as mayor in 1972. Neil Goldschmidt had served on the city council and then was elected to lead the city’s strong-mayor form of government; he was just 32 years of age, one of the younger big-city mayors in America.

One of his campaign themes was to revive downtown, which at the time of his election wasn’t anything to boast about. It had its share of retail outlets, but that’s about it.

Then the mayor did something quite extraordinary. Looking into the future with his own “myopic” vision, he unilaterally vetoed a highway project that would cut a swath through the southeast quadrant of the city and carve its way to the Cascade Range east of town. The Mount Hood Freeway, as it was called, was going to improve traffic flow through southeast Portland and boost retail and other commercial development all along its route.

Goldschmidt would have none of it. He said, in effect, “We’re going to focus our efforts on rebuilding downtown and developing a mass transit system that is second to none in the country.” He said the city would not sanction the construction of what I believe he called a “50-mile-long strip mall all the way to Mount Hood.”

There wasn’t a huge groundswell of support for Goldschmidt’s idea in the 1970s, but he told us — come hell or high water — we were going to get a downtown district that will make us proud.

The city invested lots of public money to build a park along the waterfront; it enticed developers to erect multi-family housing units on the outskirts of the downtown district; it lured a whole array of eating and drinking establishments; it created a “fareless square” for buses to carry passengers through the downtown core free of charge; it renovated run-down hotels into four- and five-star establishments; it made improvements to a rotting downtown ballpark that used to be home to a AAA baseball club but which now is home to a major league soccer franchise.

So … the vision of one mayor a lifetime or two ago may have seemed “myopic” to some. To others — including the mayor himself — the vision was as far-sighted as it could get.

I do not know if Amarillo’s vision for its downtown will produce all that has come to pass in Portland. The city wants to build a ballpark downtown; it wants to erect a parking garage and a convention hotel. It likely will seek to improve its Civic Center in due course. The city’s intent is to turn downtown into a business and entertainment center.

The vision I’ve seen of what the city intends for its downtown is nothing short of spectacular.

I could make the case that Amarillo’s civic, political and community brain trusts need to do a better job of selling its concept to those who remain skeptical.

I’m telling you, though, the project as I see it can work and I continue to have faith that it will.


Changing a political culture

Maury Meyers’s death in Beaumont this week reminded me of how one politician — in this case a mayor — can seek change in a region’s political culture.

Meyers did that during his two tours of duty as mayor of a significant city along the Texas Gulf Coast. He sought to instill a more business-friendly climate in a city that had been perceived as “anti-business” because of its strong union influence in local politics.

I am not anti-union by any stretch of the imagination, but the city did languish at times because of the belief that its population was inherently unfriendly to Big Bidness.

Meyers, who grew up in New York, came to Beaumont and entered the public arena with a fresh outlook that shook up the status quo.

Many communities occasionally become stuck in the old way.

Amarillo is an example.

For too-long a time, the city’s governing body took a hands-off approach to economic development — or even certain elements of public safety. In recent years, that notion changed with a city council (which used to be called a “city commission”) that decided to make a public commitment to downtown redevelopment and also to try cracking down on lawbreakers who ignore red lights’ command to stop at intersections.

The downtown redevelopment initiative — including a tax increment reinvestment zone and its commitment to working with a developer that’s supposed to spearhead the work — remains a work in progress. The red-light camera surveillance program is more established, even though critics still complain about its effectiveness. Government, it turns out, does have a role to play in developing a community.

Maury Meyers wasn’t the archetypical political trailblazer. I’ve watched others shake up the norm in uncomfortable ways. My hometown of Portland, Ore., had a mayor, Neil Goldschmidt, in the early 1970s who put the brakes on new highway construction and committed the city to redeveloping a first-class mass transit system that would enhance downtown’s growth. He succeeded wildly.

The larger point here is that individuals, or small groups of elected officials, can make a difference.

Cities need more forward-thinkers like Maury Meyers.