July 8, 2009
I would like to first acknowledge all the parties involved in this debate for what has been, for the most part, a process marked by respect rather than by confrontation. I have received hundreds of emails and letters from Portlanders. I have read many of them, and listened to all the testimony.
It is clear to me that most people agree that Cesar E. Chávez is a national hero worthy of an appropriate public honor. His legacy extends to workers rights, civil rights, environmental justice, equality, peace, and nonviolence.
Locally, people have proposed naming bridges, parks, schools, and buildings in his honor. But that is not the issue before us today. Currently, Portland has no formal process in place to name or rename parks, bridges, or buildings.
The issue before us today is a street naming proposal, and I disagree with those who suggest we should change the ground rules in the middle of the process. No matter how you feel about the issue, street naming is one way Portland has honored those who have made a difference in our lives – at the local and national level. The honor roll includes Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, and Bill Naito.