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Big Willie Style

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Detractors of Commissioner Randy Leonard's plan to flood the city with biodiesel will have to choke on some bio-exhaust on July 6, when none other than Willie Nelson swings through town to help Portland kick off its hot new biodiesel policy.

You may not know this, but the Red-Headed Stranger has his own biodiesel company called (what else?) BioWillie. He'll be on tour through the Northwest that week and is stopping in to get the city "fired up" (ha ha) on alternative fuels. But considering the Parks Department's recent decision to shut down Hempstalk, maybe Willie can take an extra minute to talk to city council about lightening up on Portland's (and his) second-favorite vapor.

Speaking of green! Commissioner Erik Sten and longtime staffer Kathleen Gardipee spent the third week in May in New York for the C40 Climate Summit—a meeting of the world's 40 biggest cities to talk about local efforts to improve the environment, hosted by former President Bill Clinton. Obviously, Portland wasn't on the list, but Sten was invited because of our city's peerless sustainability efforts.

"It was really validating," Sten says. "All of the things these city leaders were discussing are things we've been thinking about and doing for the last 15 years."

At the conference, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa imaginatively pledged to make LA the "greenest big city in America." Later, Sten ran into him at a mixer.

"As soon as he saw my name tag," Sten recounts, "he walked up, shook my hand, and said, 'I said LA would be the greenest big city in America, you're obviously the greenest city period.'"

Meanwhile! The first draft of results from Mayor Tom Potter's visionPDX project seems to have landed with a thud. On Monday, May 21, the visionPDX office released a report that summarizes the 13,000 responses it got from more than a year of surveys (Potter's original goal was 100,000 responses). Without getting into specifics, it seems safe to say that the squishy answers (We love sustainability! We love transparency!) will be hard for bureau heads to turn into action.

The draft report is being circulated through neighborhood associations, where enthusiasm is tepid at best—there's a general feeling that neighborhoods weren't originally included, and that they're being brought in now just for appearances.

"I'm sure this is not an evil plot to eliminate public comment... but c'mon," wrote one neighbor on the Neighbors West-Northwest email list. "[I]t kind of feels like an item on a checklist... 'oh shoot, we almost forgot to do public meetings.'"

smoore@portlandmercury.com

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