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Hall Monitor

Back to School

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"Where's my coffee?" Mayor Tom Potter asks his Chief of Staff Austin Raglione on Tuesday morning, January 15. It's been ages since a staffer left to fetch him a double short latte.

Usually, Potter can get his caffeine fix in the mayor's office break room, or hop over to one of several coffee shops within blocks of city hall. But this week, Team Potter is on location at Jefferson High School, where it's quite a trek to the nearest Starbucks. As Potter prepares to tour classrooms with Principal Cynthia Harris, student "pages" pop in and out of Room B-27, the city staff's temporary office, and encounter mild chaos. (Raglione isn't quite sure of the temporary location's direct phone number, and another staffer is searching for a stapler.) "Sorry, kids. This is how it is at city hall!" one staffer quips.

Potter is at the school so students can see how city government works, and "to showcase the opportunities, successes, and challenges" at Portland's schools. Wednesday's regular city council meetings are slated for Jefferson's auditorium, and on Friday Potter will give his last State of the City speech. The high school choir is going to open that program, Potter told me from his executive office—which appeared to be a modified broom closet. (Meanwhile, Potter's staff told a consultant, Eileen Luna-Firebaugh, to take an extra week with her report on the Independent Police Review, since he'd be out of the office—and apparently not attending to the city's regular business. "Tom did not see what advantage there was to anyone in having the document sit on his desk unread," the mayor's spokesperson explained.)

One mayoral wannabe has a similar soft spot for high school: Sho Dozono taught social studies and Japanese and coached wrestling at Grant High School in NE Portland during the '70s, and he'll return to the school on Saturday morning, January 19, for a signature-gathering rally. Dozono jumped into the mayor's race on January 7, and has until the 31st to gather 1,500 $5 contributions and signatures to qualify for public financing. It seems like a long-shot move—it took Commissioner Erik Sten two months to collect 1,000 contributions in 2006—but Dozono says he passed the halfway mark as of Monday, January 14, just a week after he collected his first contribution.

In other election news, Sten's Chief of Staff Jim Middaugh filed for his boss' seat on January 14, and also hopes to beat the January 31 public financing deadline. Following in Sten's footsteps, Middaugh—formerly Portland's Science, Fish, and Wildlife Program Manager and a congressional staffer—says he'd focus on affordable housing and climate change issues.

amy@portlandmercury.com

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