Saturday, November 17, 2007

Will The Real Cesar Chavez Blvd Please Stand Up?

Leave it to Portland’s City Council to take an uncomfortable situation, seek compromise and make everyone unhappy.

The brou-ha-ha over renaming a Portland street for Cesar Chavez has clearly been scripted in the Bizarro universe known as Portland City Hall. We’ve had an unclear process, heavy handed tactics, a Mayoral walkout, vintage political flip-flopping, accusations of racism, and an N Interstate for SW 4th Avenue bait and switch.

Can anyone tell me who’s winning?

Those who want a Cesar Chavez Blvd in Portland want it on N Interstate. They see a compromise of SW 4th as some sort of insult. Why? Because they didn’t get their way? Freaking City Hall would be located on Cesar Chavez Blvd! What could be more Portland than that? But Mayor Tom Potter will have none of it.

Of course now Chinatown businesses that have NW 4th Avenue as their turf are up in arms for similar reasons as the Interstate folks. Culturally why should they recognize a Latino labor union guy in Chinatown? The NIMBY* crowds are hard at work on this one on every front.

Is there anyone who doesn’t have heels dug in?

Perhaps there is a mature avenue, street or boulevard that could volunteer for Cesar Chavez duty. Take one for the team. Union Avenue is already taken. Maybe Division Street. That seems appropriate.

This whole thing is about power. It’s not about Cesar Chavez at all. There’s been a distinct lack of leadership in this whole affair on every front. These politicians and activists should be ashamed of themselves for distorting the very legacy of Chavez over a mostly symbolic gesture. How embarrassing.


*NIMBY - Not In My Back Yard

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