Eric Sten (see previous blog entry) is the loudest person to complain about Portland Business Alliance CEO Kim Kimbrough since the city’s business outbid St. Louis’ for his services, but not the only one. From The Oregonian (6/25/02):
Former employee Bo Larsen, a supervisor in the street-cleaning program that hired the city’s homeless, said Kimbrough seemed intent on bringing in ideas from St. Louis that did not fit Portland’s needs.
“I just think he’s got a five-year mentality,” Larsen said. “What (the association) needs is someone who loves downtown Portland.”
Larson has a point – Kimbrough’s first action on arriving in Portland was to fire half his local staff (he brought in cronies from St. Louis shortly afterward). And many of his big ideas for Portland’s downtown appear to have been dug out of St. Louis’ recycling bins.
For example: At the heart of Portland’s downtown is Pioneer Square, a much-needed open, public space. Naturally, the Portland Business Alliance hates the Square (an inch of space dedicated to the public good, rather than profit? The horror!) and has quietly been pushing a new plan to erect a $10.3 million dollar ice skating rink on the site five months of the year. I did a search of St Louis papers, and what a surprise – a skating rink was Kimbrough’s big idea for helping downtown St. Louis, too. (AP wire story, 11/29/2000).
Portland residents shouldn’t trust developers who say the ice rink will only be up part of the year, either. In St. Louis, Kimbrough used the success of a “temporary” rink to justify plans to leave the rink in place year-round.