“Nice sign ya got there…

… be a real shame if something was ta happen to it.” That, in essence, is what City Commissioner Randy Leonard is saying to the University of Oregon, which wants to change the text on the White Stag sign it currently leases and pays to operate:

Mayor Sam Adams and Commissioner Nick Fish have co-sponsored an ordinance Leonard introduced late Thursday for City Council discussion next week that would, in essence, take the sign. The city would pay fair market value for the sign, estimated at $500,000. Other costs include maintenance and a lease on the rooftop space.

City ownership would ensure control over what has become a “national signature” for the city and state and part of the cultural fabric of Portland, Leonard said. It’s visible to Interstate 5 travelers and to millions who watch nationally televised Blazer games and other events.

It’s an admittedly aggressive move, but is a last resort, Leonard said. City Attorney Linda Meng said the use of eminent domain is warranted if the taking serves a public purpose.

“It’s not your ordinary condemnation, but the ordinance does a good job explaining what the public purpose is,” she said.

It’s amazing how such thuggish behavior becomes praiseworthy when it’s done by politicians, isn’t it?

My case for allowing the sign to change is here.

Comments

  1. Melinda B. says:

    I have to admit, I’m more than a little surprised at Leonard’s aggression on this matter, but I think it’s one of those “What did you expect?” incidents.

    University of Oregon is not so much touching a nerve on Portland’s civic pride, as it is poking it with a cattle prod. While the words “Made in Oregon” might be recent, the sign itself is pretty old, and it’s one of those Portland landmarks that always gets artistically photographed by tourists and locals alike.

    In a way, this is similar to public figures vs. the average person. It is widely recognized that public figures are not held in the same light as your average person. They willingly put themselves into the limelight and as such naturally come under public scrutiny. They can’t expect to be left alone or to not have people asking questions about their lives. And while yes, U of O might be leasing the building with intent to purchase, again, this isn’t an average storefront/buildingfront sign. It’s a giant neon representation of our state.

    I think the reason why “Made in Oregon” stuck around as acceptable wording on the sign is because it’s politically acceptable to the people of Portland.

    It’s a company name, yes, but it’s also a statement. Portland is a city in Oregon. We are Oregonians. Our lives are “made in Oregon.” To put “University of Oregon” over one of the most traffic-heavy bridges in town is akin to Frohnmayer pissing all over the doors of City Hall.

    I’m not sure I agree with the heavy-handed (and apparently questionably legal) measures the city is taking at the moment to wrest the sign from U of O’s hands, but I can definitely agree with the sentiment that it should not be changed.

    This comment has gone on way longer than I intended, so uh, I’ll just end here.

  2. Doug Winship says:

    Really?
    My case for allowing the change is here.
    But who the hell cares about THAT anymore in this country?

  3. Jacob Grier says:

    Sad but true, Doug. We’re very selective about which parts of the Constitution we take seriously.

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